For the past three years, certified sommelier and chef Kendra Anderson has penned a weekly "Swirl Girl" wine column for Westword, giving readers -- novices and bona fide oenophiles alike -- crash courses that detail her love for the grape, and now she's taken her passion one step further. Anderson has just been tapped as the wine director and sommelier at PastaVino, an Italian restaurant in Boulder helmed by chef-owner Fabio Flagiello.
"I had been kind of looking into getting back into wine service for the past six months, mostly because I was missing that face-to-face connection with guests," says Anderson, who started her new gig last week. "The Westword wine column," she adds, "was a great way to share my wine knowledge with a broad audience, but it lacked that immediate connection with a guest."
Anderson notes that she'd been spending a lot of time in Boulder, exploring the town's restaurant and wine scene, and when she was introduced to Flagiello by a friend, she began to seriously consider returning to her roots. "Boulder has great restaurants and a burgeoning wine scene -- there's so much wine activity up there -- and after being involved in the Boulder Burgundy Wine Festival in Boulder last year, I also realized how tight-knit is is compared to Denver, so when Fabio and I started talking, it seemed like a great fit," she says.
"His restaurant has a tremendous wine list with hundreds of bottles," acknowledges Anderson, "but I don't think the wine list has been given the attention it deserves." Her position, she adds, is multi-fold: "I'm directing the wine program, overseeing the wine list itself, developing an in-house staff training program that emphasizes wine education and wine-and-food pairings, and I'll also be responsible for hosting wine events with a focus on highlighting organic and bio-dynamic wine producers as much as possible," she reveals, noting that she's particularly excited about that aspect of her job. "People are crazy about organic food, but there are a lot of things that are really special about organic and bio-dynamic wines -- and it's perfect fit for Boulder."
Anderson, who also owns her own boutique wine-consulting and event-management company, says that Flagiello's primary goal when he opened PastaVino last year was to "get the food and restaurant solid." That, she stresses, has been accomplished, and it's now her job to make sure the wine program follows suit. "He and I both want to bring the wine program up the same level as the food, where there's an equal emphasis on both, and because I'm a chef and a somm, this is the perfect marriage for me."
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And Flagiello, she insists, is the ideal partner. "Fabio is a real chef, a real Italian -- he's as authentic as it gets -- and he's all about perfection and making sure that he does things right," she says. "I can't wait to be a part of his growing success. Creating delicious food and wine experiences are my passion above all else -- it's the reason I get out of bed in the morning -- and there's so much potential here. I'm really excited to be a part of it."