The fellow pictured above is named Robert Smith. Boring name that. So boring in fact, ELV thinks his name been working against him when it comes to his (not yet) winning a James Beard Award for having the best wine program in the nation. ELV thinks if his name was Shirley Yamamoto or Rampun Anamanawannamoana he would’ve garnered one by now.
You see, there are two ways to win a James Beard Award for anything. One is to be located in New York City. The other is have something so distinctive about yourself (a unique backstory, a crazy name, or something that appeals to the in-crowd mentality of the JBF voters*) that your award transcends mere excellence into something that will make the foundation feel good about itself. Simply having a wine list that spans the globe, at all price ranges, with waitrons and somms who can discuss it with you — whether you’re a veteran oenophile with an unlimited budget or a novice who is (somewhat) pinching pennies) — is not enough.
No less an authority than Wine Geek Steve Olson agrees with us on the transcendent excellence of Smith’s program at the Bellagio, and like ELV, he nominates and votes for Smith and Picasso every year hoping that quality will be enough to make Robert more than the Susan Lucci of sommeliers. But so far, after five nominations, it hasn’t been.
So Robert, as much as it pains us to say so, perhaps a new name is in order.
May we suggest one?
How about Brix Pickins**?
* Of which ELV is proudly one, albeit somewhat of a gadfly in the organization.
** With an outfit to match.