What would it take for a sommelier to pull a JetBlue jumper exit?

This week’s big story is the dramatic, emergency-slide resignation of JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater. Following verbal abuse from a passenger, he took to the PA system to let everyone on board know that he’d had enough, popped the inflatable emergency slide, threw down his carry-ons, grabbed a couple of beers from the drinks cart, and then slid down to the tarmac and walked to the employee parking lot at JFK.

Working in a restaurant is also a high-pressure situation (though fortunately, there’s not TSA screening for diners). So, turning this incident to the wine world: What would it take for a sommelier to shout expletives at diners, hit the fire alarm, grab two fave bottles, and run out the back door?

I put the question to Jean-Luc Le Dû, who was in the restaurant business for 20 years, the last ten as chef sommelier at the acclaimed Restaurant Daniel. (He now runs his own wine shop, Le Dû’s Wines, in the West Village.) It turns out that he actually did walk out of a job once! And I also asked him which two bottles he would have grabbed from the famed cellar at Daniel if he had made a dramatic exit.

I also asked the Twitterati (follow along). See all the replies after the jump! And add your own thoughts in the comments.

First, the Twitterati:

Pinotblogger: 1. Ask his opinion on pairings. 2. Choose none of the above. 3. Proclaim the wine tainted. 4. Spit on his shoes. The order is important in bringing about the requisite mania.

Greghirson: I’d add [to pinotblogger] – ask for the bottle price to be prorated for the sip the somm. took.

vinomarket: @drvino Taking an order from my mother would do it.

LCFwino: @drvino Larry David?

rmacomb: @drvino seemingly hourly requests for white zin or wine snobs who think every 3rd bottle is corked

jimwinebeer: @drvino one too many of the “return-a-wine-to-demonstrate-the-heft-of-my-private-parts” types; it’s wine, not manliness in a bottle

ebwinenews: @drvino lack of tips / half a gram / unresolved childhood trauma

nyplayful1: Customer sez “Cakebreadsthebomb!”

And now to the actual experiences of Jean-Luc Le Dû:

Pretty funny.

I quit the restaurant business when I sensed this could eventually happen to me.

This being said, I mostly had a lot of fun working as a sommelier in a top restaurant. While I’ve encountered a few really difficult customers during my 10 years at Daniel, I mostly tremendously enjoyed my interactions with most of them.

It’s not like I was working on an overcrowded plane with customers pissed off from the start because airlines take advantage of them in every possible way (I’m not taking the side of the passenger in this week’s incident as she had no business not confirming to FAA rules and regulations)

Now, If I’d blown a gasket and left, I would have grabbed a couple of Chartreuse Tarragone vintage from Daniel’s private stash! Voila!

I did once walked out in the middle of service at Bouley in the early 90’s because the Maitre d’ was such a prick (The one whom the play “Fully Committed” was written about). I gave him my jacket in the middle of the dining room and went home. Like nothing happened, he called me the following morning to ask if I was coming for the lunch service. That place was zoo!

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10 Responses to “What would it take for a sommelier to pull a JetBlue jumper exit?”

  1. A restaurant full of young bankers attempting one-up you by reciting spectator’s top 100 issue and waxing poetic about super tuscans, all while alternating between del dotto cabernet and vodka soda? …Or working at del frisco’s.

  2. Twitter Comment

    This is hilarious! (via @drvino) What would it take for a sommelier to pull a JetBlue jumper exit?

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  3. […] should be poured ‘like beer’ – BBC Wine Challenge: Korean Cuisine – WSJ What would it take for sommelier to pull JetBlue exit? – Dr.Vino Grape growers cool with mercury-shy summer – Napa Register Changing the Wine World One […]

  4. I was hosting one of the vintage wine dinners that I set up at Stonehedge Inn. The theme was “Vintage Spain” and the wines all were very expressive and well made.

    There was one guest who raised a stink about the 1997 Álvaro Palacios Finca Dofi. He is one of those guys who knew that ’97 in Priorat was not supposed to be good and had that in his mind from the get go.

    Thus, when I asked, as I did after every wine, “what are your impressions”, his reply was a visible thumbs down and “it sucks”. What a goon. That wine was not just good but exceptional, but he was old and I am young so what do I know. It did piss me off to no end that someone who loves wine could be so disrespectful towards it

    If I would have walked out, the two bottles I would have taken would be a 1996 Abadia Retuerta Valdebellon (tied for the best wine I have had) and a bottle of 1979 Cheval Blanc (my birth year).

  5. I met a restaurant-business guy in Napa recently who told me a story.

    He knew someone who worked under notorious hothead Gordon Ramsay for years. Guy came to CA and lasted something like 10 days at French Laundry.

    The business is brutal at times. I’d stack high-end restaurant service right up with flight attendant in the stress-bordering-on-madness category.

  6. OMG, all the stories that come to mind!!
    I’ve been in restaurant service for 10 years off and on, and there have always been a-holes, but lately I’ve been feeling perilously close to blowing a gasket with people, God help me.

    Right now I’m a server, working in a small cafe/restaurant, where we also have 300+ bottle selection, sold at retail, not restaurant mark-up, b/c we are also a retail store. This is very good for diners, obviously, as they can order a fabulous bottle of wine to go with their fabulous dinner (our chef is very talented and presents really, really awesome plates) and pay retail for it. All good.

    So we have this one couple who come in — regulars, mind you — and they refuse to tip on wine. They tip 20% on dinner, but n-o-t-h-i-n-g, and I mean nothing at all, on their wine. Because they feel it isn’t necessary. They feel it’s excessive to tip someone to simply open a bottle of wine.

    So not only are they already getting a waaaaaay better deal on the wine than they would at a typical restaurant, along with a fabulous meal, but they scrimp on the tip as well.
    It’s been a while since I waited on these folks, but every time they come in, steam comes out of my ears!! I am dying to say something to them, but in my elaborate fantasies of doing so, it’s always mean and demeaning to them, and that would not be constructive, as satisfying as it might be at the time.
    Lately I’ve been fantasizing muchly about walking out in the middle of service, but I’ve yet to decide which two bottles of wine I’d take — must get on that, pronto!!

    Aaah, the joys of restaurant work!

  7. Twitter Comment

    funny RT @drvino: What would it take for a sommelier to pull a JetBlue jumper exit?

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  8. Asking for ice to be placed in a glass of Valbuena

  9. I think I agree with you.. I will follow my passion by drinking the wine.. Thought about starting a vineyard..Maybe in my next life when I have so much disposable income it won’t matter. Cheers!

  10. […] What would it take for a sommelier to pull a JetBlue jumper exit? […]


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