Think “sommelier” sounds snooty? Haughty? So do we!

Cadillac Jack’s – that casual place that relocated to 24 Monroe Street in downtown Ellicottville – who do we think we are, having a sommelier? And what exactly is a sommelier, anyway?

The dictionary defines a sommelier as a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service, as well as wine and food pairing.

But wait, isn’t Caddy’s that fun place where you can get a pitcher of beer and a huge bowl of hot lips mussels?  Yup. Still is.  After all, Tom Zerbian, owner of Cadillac Jack’s since 1993, cut his culinary chops since 1979 at places like Shooters in Cleveland, Italian Fisherman in Bemus Point, and the Gin Mill here in town.

Only now, you also get J.P. Edwards.

He’s all about creating memories through food and wine, and has now become Cadillac Jack’s new “Food and Wine Therapist.”

With the addition of Edwards to the family, the Zerbians and Edwards will begin a new era of concept principles that will coincide with the 24 Monroe Bar and Bistro.

Intimidated by wine? Can’t pronounce the names? Worried about choosing the wrong wine with your dinner?

At 24 Monroe Street Bar and Bistro, Jason’s wine list is unique, lush and delicious, and yeah, you’ll find some labels that you can’t pronounce. But no worries – let Jason offer you a taste. It doesn’t matter to us if you don’t know a Burgundy from a Bordeaux. We just want you to have fun.  Wear jeans and sneakers with your 2001 bottle of Cabernet. Relax and open up to possibilities.

Sommelier? “They pair and suggest wines that will best complement each particular food menu item. This entails the need for a deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits and other beverages work in harmony.”

But you won’t find Jason with that funny little silver ashtray called a tastevin around his neck.

You’ll find him, like we do, in casual clothes laughing with guests. But keep an eye on him. Watch him as he talks to you about wine and beer and cocktails and food. He replaces the little silver tasting cup with genuine passion and an infatuation for his craft. You can see it in his face.

Watch your fellow guests when they take a sip without food, when they take a taste of the food without wine and when they finally put them together. A must try – the vanilla ice cream rolled with goat cheese, topped with salted caramel, walnuts and bacon, atop a berry compote. With a sip of the perfect wine, watch them when they have that Aha moment. It’s like love at first sight, that magical feeling that you’ll never forget.

Edwards has come back to the area via Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City, having fine-tuned his food and wine knowledge at Michelin rated restaurants like Rouge Tomate, and with the likes of Terrance Brennan (Chef-Proprietor of the restaurants in The Artisanal Group) at Picholine in Manhattan.

Our Food and Wine Therapist joined Cadillac Jack’s in October and has been working with the 24 Monroe family to create a crafty new menu and tasty cocktail and wine list.

It’s food and wine harmony, a coupling of tastes and aromas, therapy for the eyes, lips, and tongue. It’s food and wine therapy for the soul.

Come on in, get your old favorite hot lips mussels, but instead of getting a pitcher of beer, you may want to try something new like the Von Kesselstatt Riesling from the Mosel region in Germany. Taste them together. Then wait for it … that warm feeling, that moment that words cannot describe…ecstasy! That’s our definition of “sommelier.”