First off, congratulations on passing the Master Sommelier exam in April
and becoming the youngest MS in the world.
Fredrickson: Thank you.
Early in your career, you worked for Charlie Trotter for 18 months in
Las Vegas and Chicago. Did you start as a waiter?
KF: Yes, I was a waiter on the floor, then I worked my way into
being assistant sommelier and got to be sommelier on the floor one day
a week. My days off Id spend in the kitchen, learning foodstuffs,
trying not to get in the way but taking notes, and if I had a chance
to prep a little Id prep. The head chef, Guillermo Tellez, was
one of those people who had an open dooras much you wanted, you
could take. Charlie set the tone for that attitude. Hell hire
a person or offer an internship to somebody with virtually no experience;
its all about how badly you want to do it. You can take someone
and bring them on the fastest learning curve, versus trying to break
somebody of the habits they learned in a previous place. Working with
Charlies staff was an invaluable part of my educationSteven
Geddes and Joe Spellman, both Master Sommeliers, were terrific.
What was it like to work for Trotter?
His style is very different from say, Wolfgang Pucks. There is
little bit of a militant style to him, but I think its fabulous
because hes so passionate. Hes first one in the restaurant
every day and the last to leave, and its really hard for you not
to respect that. That constant pursuit of perfection rubs off on you.
I think I bring some of Charlies philosophy into my business.
I like to have people come in and try to learn a different job, or be
willing to hang out in the kitchen and learn more about the food. Ive
had several servers come in and learn how to make coq au vin, and they
can describe it at the table like nobodys business.
You also took the Sterling [School of Hospitality] Course?
Yes, I went out to Napa for a week and thats when I decided I
was going to get serious about my profession. Evan
Goldstein is a tribute to the sommelier professionhes
a fabulous teacher and a great speaker, and after spending a week with
Evan I was totally psyched; I knew it was what I wanted to do. Its
a great way to make a living, and something I love, and I knew it was
going to take a lot of hard work but Id get there.
And now, a few years later, you own two restaurants and a wine shop.
Restaurant Terroir has received some very good critical notices in the
short time it has been open.
Bryan Miller [of The New York Times] did a whole review of Jackson
and we were the only place about which he didnt have anything
negative to say. For me, its bittersweet. I think its great
that we came out in a positive light, but on the other hand, youre
only as good as the people around you. We promote wine education, we
do tastings every Friday, and we encourage staff members from other
restaurants to come in to the Jackson Hole Wine Company and join our
tastings. We want Jackson to be a destination where people are proud
to say they came here and ate great foodlike Aspen, a mountain
community with great food. Ive recommended some of my favorite
wines to be on the lists of my competitor restaurants, because I think
theyre good restaurants and I want them to have strong wine programs.
You mentioned the tastings on Fridays; what else do you do to train
Basically, my philosophy is that you just keep telling them the same
thing. It could be a little redundant, but we try to keep it fresh.
We have a half-hour to 45-minute pre-service meeting every day, on the
floor. The chef will put up a dish, and we do a wine match with that
dish. Sometimes well just pick a staff member and let them pick
something, and either its positive or negative or neutral. I want
my staff to be able to recommend wines with food and be comfortable
and confident with it, and it takes half an hour every single day. We
also have a little program thats probably different from most
restaurants. We have specialistsservers who are specialists in
one regionon the floor, so that if a server has a question he
or she cant answer, he can go to someone else who maybe knows
more about Chassagne-Montrachet or the village of Meursault.
Are you on the floor most of the time?
I am, although obviously with two places Im spread a little thinner.
I like to be at Terroir because its my favorite place to work.
I love the atmosphere. I can afford to spend more time and get more
personal with the guests and take them on a food and wine degustation.
At Koshu, theyre in and out much quicker.
Can you talk a bit about how you choose wines for the list at Terroir?
Were rustic country French. Were not trying to be something
that were not. With that kind of classic influence (although we
put a contemporary twist on things) I dont try to go too far out
of bounds. Red Burgundy has an affinity with the food, lighter white
grapes from France are great, wines from the Loire Valley are great,
Aligoté is a fabulous grape and well-priced. I have great, big,
well-made, firm California Cabs on the list because theres a ton
of people who love to drink those, and Im definitely not going
to break trail with those people either. They also bring depth to the
list. But if you want to look for wines that have an affinity with the
food, theyre all over the place. I taste all the wines, of course.
I was fortunate because when I started Terroir Id just left a
position as Wine Director at Spago in Vegas, where I was tasting 100
wines per week. Everyone wants to be on Spagos list, so I was
lucky enough to be very selective, and I think through tasting and taking
good notes and possessing somewhat of an organoleptic memory, Ive
developed my ability to match stuff up.
How would you describe the clientele at Restaurant Terroir?
Id say its about 60/40 local people to tourists. Its
really hard in a resort town like this to be considered a dining destination,
but youd be surprised; I mean, people are calling up and planning
well in advance to make a stop at Terroir. We have great recommendations
from the high-end resorts and lodges that are in the valley; Amangani
[resort] sends us people every single day.
Where do the second homeowners fit in?
Theyre kind of their own little group. Typically, they come a
couple of times in the winter, for two weeks at a time, maybe, and then
in the summer theyre here for a month and a half or two months,
because its one of the most beautiful places on the planet in
the summertime. The second homeowners are also important to my retail
business, Jackson Hole Wine Company, because a lot of them are high-end
wine buyers, either building cellars or already with cellars, and they
like to collect. Its a hobby that theyre allowed to pursue
when they have free time, and they come to Jackson to have free time,
so it works out well.
Are all of the wines on the list at Terroir also available at the store?
No, most of the wines at Terroir are not available at Jackson Hole Wine
Company, because the list changes so frequently at Terroir, and because
its a little more exclusive. With only 48 seats, we can touch
every person who comes into the restaurant, and recommend particular
wines to match the food, whereas at the store we serve a broader clientele.
But all of the wines in the store are available to be consumed
at Koshu Wine Bar, next door, at retail prices.
We do charge a small corkage fee, on a scale that kind of encourages
people to spend a little more on a bottle of wine. Its a fabulous
deal for wine lovers, because you can drink a $50 bottle for $65 at
the wine bar.
Tell me a little about Koshu. I understand you just opened it about
a week ago.
Its a restaurant, but weve tagged it as a wine bar. The
food is Asian-concept, with several different influences, Pacific Rim
and so forth. Wed love to encourage people in Jackson to broaden
their wine knowledge. We offer 15 wines by the glass, everything from
Austrian whites to German Riesling and odd varieties from Californiathings
people arent easily going to buy a bottle of but will try a glass,
and if they like it they may go out into the shop and pick up three
to four bottles of it on the way home. We have 30 seats and last night
we served about 85 people, and at least ten asked me to come back into
the shop with them and show them where that wine was that they had,
because they wanted to take a bottle with them. So its definitely
working. If someone is grinning from ear to ear over a Grüner Veltliner,
you know theyre willing to give it a try.
Top of page