By Joy Neighbors
July is National Culinary Arts Month and French Lick Resort has two fine dining restaurants that continue to impress and garner awards year after year.
At West Baden Springs Hotel, Sinclair’s Restaurant offers European excellence with a sophisticated menu and wine list. Locally grown foods are trendy right now and according to Sinclair’s executive chef Ethan Smith, “Sinclair’s offers a flexible menu to take advantage of seasonal offerings.”
French Lick Springs Hotel has 1875: The Steakhouse – one of the best fine dining establishments in the state. Restaurant manager Tom O’Connor said that "guests are always looking for an exciting culinary experience.” And 1875: The Steakhouse does not disappoint. In fact, it will have its own in-house certified sommelier later this year.
|1875 Manager Christen Angermeier|
The restaurant’s Food and Beverage Manager Christen Angermeier has already passed her first certification and is on her way to becoming a professional certified sommelier (wine steward), a position on par with an executive chef. A sommelier has extensive knowledge about wines and wine service, wine regions and understands how to pair wines with food.
Angermeier began in the culinary world as a student at Indiana University when she worked as a server at a local restaurant. She enjoyed the industry and decided to go to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. She then set her sights on management and started working in fine dining in Indianapolis. That’s where she discovered the world of wine. Angermeier said, “I began taking wine classes at I.U.P.U.I. (Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis) and fell in love with the wine world.”
Having just passed the first level of exams, Angermeier's goal is to become a certified sommelier by autumn. This status will greatly enhance her credentials in the wine and food industry. She hopes to bring a larger variety of wines to the 1875 wine list and lay some building blocks for the staff to learn more about wine. “I’d love to do some staff training; to help them understand more about the wines we serve and how to talk about those wines to our guests,” Angermeier said. “It means more when you can enhance someone’s dining experience by suggesting a wine that will pair well with their food.”
Asked what her favorite wine is, Angermeier replied, “I always love a good Riesling.” Does she have a “most memorable” Riesling? Indeed, she does. “The one that started it all for me was Joh. Jos Prüm Riesling Auslese – that’s the one that began my love affair with wine. I still remember it!”
Another part of a sommelier’s job is to recommend wine options to guests that fit their taste preferences and budget. When asked for a good red wine under $20, Angermeier suggested a Vietti Barbera. As for an approachable white wine that pairs well with summer foods, Angermeier smiled and nodded, “A Riesling, of course.”