Interview with Chef John Ragan of Campton Place - San Francisco

October, 2005

Antoinette Bruno: How did you develop an interest in wine?
John Ragan: I worked in the restaurant business through high school and college. I came to California for vacation and never went back.

AB: What courses have you taken?
JR: I am auditing the advanced Quarter Master Sommelier course and taking the test in October.

AB: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
JR: The first thing to remember is that you are working in a restaurant. I will find the best pairings for the customer based on their wants. 75% of the guests ask for assistance and recommendations.

AB: Do you favor Old World or New World wines?
JR: I definitely favor Old World Wines. I need a balance between acidity and elegance. I am also a big fan of German wines – I’m on their advisory board.

AB: Tell me about a perfect wine and food match that you’ve discovered.
JR: Vin Santo paired with vanilla gelato and coffee espresso. Champagne with cheese. Also young goat cheese from Andante Dairy with a dry Spanish sherry.

AB: Why do you think you stand out as a sommelier?
JR: Because I really love my job. I love the instant gratification of when someone loves the pairing.

AB: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
JR: For whites, I like German and Austrian wines, and Champagne. For red wines I prefer Piedmont, Burgundy, and Rhone.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
JR: In 5 years I will still be here. In 10 years I want to have my own place but doing exactly what I am doing now.