In honor of the fabulous Cat who won a James Beard this week, I am reposting this story from 2009. Well deserved, not if we can get Juliette Pope up there next year, all will be good.
One of the sad truths of writing is the big cut. In this case, my words outran space and as a result some praises I set out to sing in my current piece on sommelier's I love in Saveur, never were heard. In the prologue I originally genuflected to Gramercy Tavern's Juliette Pope. Likewise, Cat Silirie of the Barbara Lynch group ended up on the cutting floor. It's not because Saveur isn't as enthusiastic about either women's talent as I am, it is just because that's the way publishing rolls. Here's the Cat snippet that never saw the light of ink.
Cat Silirie Wine Director BL Gruppa With dad out of surgery, my brother and I were in need of some taking care as well. So, we headed to #9 Park, hungry for Barbara Lynch's simple, spectacular food. While I rarely opt for the sommelier to surprise me, (I am always disappointed!) there was just something about Cat Silirie that when she suggested she pair with our courses, I easily surrendered, Go for it, I said. This was back in 1999 and, off duty, I took no notes I remember something shocking and delicious such as riesling and a raviolo. This mastery of vinous synergy alone, would be reason enough to sing Cat's praises but, let me play the woman card. Cat Silirie was one of the first femmes to crash the wine glass ceiling of sommeliers in Boston. Emigrating from S. Florida (What a wine wasteland in the 80’s, she said.) to Beantown, she begged herself into job at the fancy steak house, Grill 23. There she became educated in Bordeaux and cult cabs (not her favorites). She found her true wine voice when she forged a Thelma and Louise team with chef Lynch. 15 + year later, she spins her magic at all of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo restaurants, also winning a reputation for her terrific staff training, called Wine Words, held every day at staff meeting. So much so that when the other day she got a call from a kid in San Francisco wanting to enroll in her wine school she had to break the news to him that she's a restaurant.