Our Friend of the Week – Shelley Lindgren
Your City: San Francisco, CA
Shelley’s Whats – For me, it has been Italian wines by flavor and not the name. Being transported to Italy through vino, I was in love with the beautiful history of Southern Italy before venturing there. Having an open mind and heart will allow for the most incredible experiences, no matter what it is.
It’s the holiday season, another reason to indulge in some bubbly. Italians make sparkling wine in lots of regions and price points. A fabulous prosecco from Le Vigne de Alice will still range from retail $18 – $35 (she has lots of styles) and then, Ferrari sparklings from Trento, Franciacorta like Ca’ Del Bosco or the beautiful sparkling rose from Contadi Castaldi, among others, is a great gift to give friends or have to celebrate the holidays. Of course, Champagne is always the perfect choice too.
FRIEND OF THE WEEK: 11 QUESTIONS
WEBSITE: A16 | SPQR
1. Nickname: Shell, Chili Palmer, Shell’s Bells but, please don’t ask my brothers because Shelley rhymes with a lot of words…
2. What’s your short story? For me, hospitality has always been a way of life, a state of mind and attitude. I’ve always loved to entertain, nurture and feed people (or recommend vino). I have always been told I am too nice but I found it as strength and just who I am. Ironically, I have a really thick skin and always am striving to improve every day but, also don’t take too much personally. These personal traits naturally benefited when I found my calling in restaurants almost 30 years ago. I didn’t realize I could be a sommelier as a professional until I was taking full credits at USF and working full-time as a captain at Fleur De Lys, decanting Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa Cabernet wines 5 nights a week for almost 7 years. During this time, I had one of those ah-ha moments that this is just what I love and I found my direction towards wine and the course of studying.
Greg and I went on a honeymoon to Italy after the stories of grapes that were super fascinating and off the beaten path. It was right when the focus of quantity in the South of Italy was just underway when we opened A16 in 2004. Back then, we were hard-pressed to find 3 Etna Rosso wines available in the market and, now we have dozens to choose from and each so different from each other, their own identity. Volcanic wine is a beautiful thing. Attending Tante Marie as a student and, then a weekend teacher of wine there for almost 12 years has been an important additional family to me. We opened SPQR in 2007, A16 Rockridge in 2013 and partners in Japan opened A16 Tokyo in 2009 and A16 Yokohama in 2016. Greg and I have 2 boys who have been growing up restaurant and bar kids for the past 7 (Asher) and 9 (Phineas) years.
3. What’s your jam? Just like a glass of wine, music can be a good unwind and relaxing or similarly, how we are at the restaurant’s, start with something like Morcheeba or Curtis Mayfield and move into David Bowie or the Flaming Lips. I have felt like we’ve been operating on adrenalin lately with lots to accomplish so, Eruption from Eddie Van Halen is more the feeling of late! For some reason, all I want to type is Flashdance and I do not know why… I guess I haven’t bought a soundtrack in a while.
4. What motivates you? Being active and engaged in what is present is part of what keeps me motivated every day. My To-Do list never ends and multi-tasking is part of restaurant life so, I am constantly reprioritizing things that need to happen in any particular order. Being a parent, having an incredible partner in Greg to help with raising our sons has been a big part of finding the work-life balance. I think about how to keep moving forward every day and to put 150% into my responsibilities as much as I can. I have spent a lot of time focused on the business operations and changing from how we looked at things in 2004 to now in 2016. One of my mentors, Ed Levine, who I was employed as part of the Left Bank in Larkspur’s opening crew, has helped all of us at the restaurants be able to manage things daily and operate as a team. Restaurants take a great team committed every day to keep it up.
5. Who do you think you’d have great friend chemistry with? Elizabeth David, Judi Dench, Dolly Parton, Marie Curie & Virginia Woolf.
6. What qualities do your favorite friends have in common? Being kind, down-to-earth, open-minded, loving and fun to be around in any setting.
7. What’s the smartest, most inspiring, awesome thing you’ve read, watched, or listened to? It was incredible to see on Giving Tuesday when Patagonia reached the $10million mark. The podcast WTF has been pretty eye-opening too when I have time to listen in…
8. What whets your appetite? I’m always thinking of pairing wine and food and what’s in season. Bring on the herbs and spices. Put fresh herbs in your salads, dips, proteins, and juices. I believe in the healing and immunity of fresh foods and using herbs and spices for flavor and health boosts.
9. What’s next on your To Do List? Currently working on writing a book on Southern Italian wine with my friend Kate Leahy, who co-authored A16 Food & Wine and SPQR books. Boozy desserts might happen one day too. Never say never.
10. How are you friends with Gina + Amy? We have many crisscrossing of friends since early Romolo and Splendora days to our friend Shari at Pacific Heights Skincare to kids and growing up in Marin. Then, there was always the Gwen Stefani and Michelle Obama kids party! And, I owe my daily Juicero juice to their introduction. I love the can do attitude and admire the business sense, style, fun & love Gina + Amy share with everyone.
11. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received? One of my sage friends and Master Sommelier, Larry Stone, once gave me advice when I was first hiring employees at the restaurant and starting to train a wine team of sommeliers. He humbly stated that as it is great to nurture and educate wine professionals, it’s very okay when it’s time for some to move onto their next adventure. It all benefits our industry’s future and we want them to do the same as they teach others. Now we have been able to extend some sort of sponsorship of education and travel to over 30 professionals and counting. Thank you Larry!