In this gritty, eloquent memoir, James, who became the country’s youngest sommelier at 21, talks about overcoming sexual assault and sexism as she built a career in the restaurant business. The book, which spans James’s life from age seven to 28, opens with an overview of her unstable childhood, which included an absent mother and alcoholic father. James worked in greasy diners as a teenager and painfully describes being raped by a customer after a shift. She briefly turned to drugs after the attack, then got clean and moved to New York, where she landed a bartending job at an Italian restaurant. Her first sommelier job was at Michelin-starred Aureole, where she learned how to make wine recommendations and how to scan a customer’s appearance to determine how much money they might spend. Often dismissed by customers who disliked taking advice from a woman, she relentlessly studied wine and won awards, among them the prestigious Sud de France Sommelier Challenge. James grippingly discusses working at several high-end restaurants and wading through ugly swamps of unwanted advances and crude comments before finding a happy home at Michelin-starred Cote, where she is the beverage director. This is a captivating story of resilience from a sommelier who hustled hard to conquer her profession. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 09/26/2019 Release date: 03/24/2020 Genre: Nonfiction
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