A water sommelier…
Yes, you read that right…a water sommelier.
Someone shoot me now.
This, from Jenn Harris’s story at the L.A. Times:
On a hot July afternoon, Martin Riese sits in a suit at one of the patio tables at Ray’s and Stark with eight bottles of water and 16 glasses in front of him. He laughs as museum goers pause in front of his table to smirk or make a comment about the odd man with all that water.
There are bottles from France, Norway, Fiji, Germany and the United States, all neatly lined up, from flat to sparkling, ready to be poured for a water tasting.
In case it’s not clear, Riese is crazy about H20. He’s taking the clear liquid most of us take for granted as a simple necessity and attempting to turn it into a serious business.
No, it’s really not.
Reise is the water sommelier — yes, there is such a thing — for the Patina Group of Retaurants. He’s launching a water menu Monday at Ray’s and Stark, the restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he is also the general manager. Some of the bottles will be priced as high as $20.
If you’re rolling your eyes right now at the thought of water sommeliers, water menus, and pricey bottles of water, know this: Glasses of curated cold water are one of the hottest things showing up on menus.
The concept of water menus has been attempted in Europe, with perhaps the most famous being from Le Water Bar Colette in Paris. It has even been tried in L.A. The Bazaar at the SLS offered a water menu a couple years back, but the concept never really took off.
Gee, ya think?
Riese is hoping his menu with 20 waters from around 10 different countries will create a new experience for diners, one that goes beyond “flat or sparkling.”
But on this hot day, one of the glasses in front of Riese is half full with tap water he retrieved from the men’s bathroom.
“Smell this tap water. It smells like chlorine,” said Riese with a look of disgust. “As a restaurant person here in L.A., I can say I would never drink that water. When you have good food, good wine and good spirits, you don’t want to contaminate that with this water.”
Riese was certified as a water sommelier after taking a weeklong course in Germany at Doemen’s, one of a few schools in the world that offers certification for water specialists, but he insists he was largely self-trained by tasting.
So, let me repeat that. He went to a school to get a certification to taste water…doing so in all of a week, but still remains largely “Self-trained”.
I literally don’t know which part of that story makes me feel worse.
He’s worked at Michelin star restaurants all over the world and in 2005, he introduced a 40-label water menu at a German restaurant. He also wrote a book in 2009 about water and his knowledge on the subject earned him a special O-1 visa to live and work in the United States from Germany, awarded to individuals with extraordinary abilities and typically given to scientists and inventors.
“All waters have unique tastes, and a lot of Americans think water is just water, but I completely don’t believe in that,” said Riese. “Water has so many interesting nuances.”
Yeah, sure. THIS GUY can get into the Country on a Visa, but we’re supposed to worry about folks coming up from Mexico???
Please, please, please dear God…let this fail again.
More on this at the Los Angeles Times. Jenn, you did a great job with this story. It’s completely horrifying and @#$%ed up, but you did a great job nonetheless.
LACMA, Patina Restaurant Group, you oughta be ashamed.