Rachel DelRocco

Rachel DelRocco

Freelance Writer

My first job had a dynamic wine list and beverage program. I was surrounded by people, who for lack of a better word, geeked out on food and spirits. I couldn’t help but be sucked in and whatever it is I was working on at the time, whether it was writing or music, was getting put on the back burner to learn more about the history of spirits and the ingredients in dishes. Then, I accepted that this might be a love and passion and maybe something I should start to pursue.

Working as a beverage director at Qui I think made the most impact on my career in opening my eyes to what restaurants, chefs, and sommeliers were doing all over the country and not just in my own little bubble. The people that I was surrounded by at the time weren’t afraid of experimentation and took a lot of influence from restaurants and bars all over the country and the world. It completely opened my world with the books that were available to the everyday conversations I had with some extraordinarily talented people. It allowed me to feel comfortable pushing my own limitations and being comfortable in my own palate.
You can teach technique and you can teach with a map of Burgundy but you can’t teach an innate desire to serve and a passion for always wanting to learn more. This is what hospitality is.
I recommend any and everything written by Jancis Robinson when it comes to wine.
I think the best way to keep your team inspired is by taking an interest in the individual’s aspirations and passions and feeding into that.
It's important to be humble yet confident at the same time. It’s a fine balance to achieve but in this industry, pardon the cliché, there are people who will always know less and people who will always know way more than you and that will always be the case. Don’t be afraid to try new things, be dynamic, and put yourself out there, but also allow yourself to be educated by everyone and anyone. You’ll be a better professional for it.
From multiple mentors and those I’ve been able to work with regarding wine through the Court of Master Sommeliers, I think the best advice has been to keep with the basics. You can get completely overwhelmed by the minutiae in wine, spirits, technique, and food. There’s a lot out there but know where you are and build on what you have and the rest will come with a combination of time with dedication and work. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be humble. Know what you don’t know and ask a lot of questions.
This has been a more recent understanding for me but being open to any and all opportunity and listening. I am in a current situation where I’m not quite surrounded by wine or wine professionals but there’s still a plethora of opportunity out there. The internet is everywhere and it’s about discipline and taking the time to read what’s out there, share with the community, and take advantage of what’s out there.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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