How does Larry Stone communicate and advise guests?
First of all, I don’t tell them I’m the expert. I know that whatever I do at that moment is what counts, not what I have done in the past. The idea is that you have to understand what service means, what working with people means. Some people will never know the sommelier has great honors or some great award, but they will just go away thinking they’ve had a great experience. Normally I interrogate the customer. You have to know when you come to a table what they are expecting. Is it a wedding? Is it a business dinner? Or is it a very food-oriented group?
I’ve been called everything. Somebody once said, “Hey, that wine guy, get him back to the table.” He had no clue what a sommelier was, but I made such an impression on him and chose such a good wine for the table, he had to call me back to choose another wine for them. I remember that experience almost 20 years ago and I was so excited because my waiters were irate that this guy would refer to me as “the wine guy.” And I go, “No, and that’s great, they just enjoyed what I was doing and that is what it’s really about.”