Who is the sommelier of Sixteen?

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Born and raised in Delhi, India until age 15, Parag Lalit retains duel citizenship in both France and Canada. Lalit joined Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago (TIHT) as assistant sommelier and in May 2015 advanced to sommelier. Prior to TIHT, he consulted on a wine retail project for Bacchus Corner Fine Wines & Spirits in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. There, he enjoyed expanding the company’s wine portfolio to meet the needs of a variety of palates. Previously, he was the assistant sommelier at Skin and Bones, a wine bar in Toronto and where he managed a diverse wine list that featured small artisanal producers and rare wines that were unique in style. Prior to that role, Lalit held a position as assistant sommelier at Restaurant Le Local in Montreal, which had 500 wine selections from France, Italy, Spain and the United States. He has had valuable international experience, which he finds to be significant in meeting the needs of a very diverse clientele in a hotel and restaurant environment. Lalit also has experience working as chef de rang, maître d’hotel and food and beverage manager at luxury outlets worldwide.

With a good understanding of the culinary cultures from both the east and west and knowledge about how they affect contemporary cooking styles, he takes that into mind when selecting wines for his guests. Lalit appreciates classical cuisine and is passionate about creating a harmony of flavors with his wine pairings. For him, wine is unique because it produces a sense of place more than any other beverage. “Wine is bottled geography and history,” he says. When is comes to his philosophy on serving wine, Lalit pays close attention to the environment and mood of the guests – whether enjoying a business meeting, a date or a group meal – and believes that to share in those moments is a privilege for him and in his mind, one that must be carried out with sincerity. 

Choosing the hospitality industry as a career path was no coincidence for Lalit. From a young age, he was always curious to meet new people and learn new languages. For him, the industry facilitates the possibility to visit new and different countries and wine regions. He began his culinary journey in France, and has travelled to more than one dozen countries and lived in five.   He has fond memories of navigating through some of the finest food establishments such as Can Roca in Spain and the Lung King Heen in Hong Kong.

When it comes to career inspiration, Lalit looks to Rajat Parr, who came from very humble beginnings in Calcutta, India and has produced fine wine in California and Burgundy and has won a James Beard Foundation Award in the Outstanding Wine Professional category. He also admires wine personality Gary Vaynerchuck who has democratized wine knowledge through his online channel Wine Library TV. 

Currently, Lalit is pursuing a Master Sommelier certification. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, taking long bike rides and exploring different areas of the world.

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