It’s about high time we showed a little love to the Lone Star State! I can think of no other lady somm worthy of the spotlight than Miss June Rodil, General Manager and Wine Director of the very soon-to-be opened Qui in Austin, Texas. Giddy up!
How did you become a sommelier?
My story is pretty similar to most, I think. I was a cocktail waitress at the Driskill Hotel in college and then slowly began climbing the ranks into the fine dining room, then I became a Captain, and then got a knack for pairing wines for guests. I loved remembering what a guest had to drink previous time they came in to dine and then would coax them into something new every time they came in. It was a great way to get to know our regular patrons without delving into personal lives (does that sound weird?).
After graduation, I applied to law school and go accepted. I had a minor breakdown while I was getting ready to relocate: why leave a city I love (Austin, TX), and why leave a career path I’m truly passionate about? So, yeah. I stayed. I walked my ass to Uchi and told them they needed a Beverage Director and that it was me. They didn’t have a “position of that nature” at the beginning, but were open to it so I started off as a waitress. A few months after starting at Uchi, I entered a competition for Texas Best Sommelier…and won. So, when I went back to work, I asked them to make a business card for me with the title. After that, I grew to become the Beverage Director of the company. I left three years later to open Congress Austin, and am now in the process of opening Qui with my homie, Paul Qui.
What’s your go-to look/daily uniform for work?
Totally depends on the day, but…
Clothes: POCKETS! I have to have them. Not only is it handy for your wine key, I have a bad habit of gesticulating with my hands like a fool, so it’s nice to have a place for my hands. I love bright colors and comfort. It’s hella hot in Texas, so if there’s a flowy neon dress with pockets, I will probably buy it. I despise suits, but will wear them for professional conferences and competitions. I feel trapped and man-ish in them. Also–the scarf is the way. It’s my “flare.” If I find myself in a clothing rut (and sometimes I do) I usually get a new, colorful, patterned scarf to cheer me up. It’s also quite practical. It’s hot outside, so people blast their a/c indoors. A scarf is perfect for that.Hair: I got lots! It’s either in a messy bun on the top of my head with a headband to accessorize and hide the stress bands, or, I’ll wear it down if I’m at an event and/or find time to fix it.
Jewelry: Minimal. I wear a ring from my boyfriend that he had one of our friends make for me. It’s silver and very delicate and unobtrusive, and small earrings–I’ve got some bumblebees and wishbone earrings that I love wearing. I fear dangly earrings at work. I can just see myself getting caught in something and ripping earhole. Gnarly. If I’m feeling sassy, I also have a blinged out Swarovski crystal Hello Kitty ring for some whimsy.
Shoes: I start with ballet flats and move to heels during service…and then back to ballet flats. The heels feel heinous, but I have a penchant for expensive shoes. I’m Filipino, and thus have an inherent dream of being Imelda Marcos.
Do you transition your outfit from daytime duties to nighttime floor action?
God yes. If it’s inventory and I know I’ll be hauling around boxes of booze for long hours, I’ll straight up show up to work in yoga pants, a hoodie, and sneakers. Being comfortable makes things go faster. Plus, I don’t want to appear disheveled and wrinkled by the time service comes around. There’s a great many things that happen to make service go seamlessly, but a guest shouldn’t have to know that–they should just see the end result. I believe in looking as well kept as possible makes you feel good and helps you put guests at ease and, ultimately, provide them with a great experience.
What are the three things you can’t leave home without when heading to the restaurant?
Pockets, wine key, phone.
Three things a somm should never do or wear?
1. Frown–we work with wine for godsakes! What have we got to frown about???
2. Crappy, chipped, loud nail polish.
3. Take yourself too seriously.
What do you usually drink and/or eat at the end of a shift?
Right now, Riesling. It’s about to be the Summer of, ya know. It reenergizes me at the end of the night. After working 12 hours, a little acid and sugar gets me going. We serve Robert Weil Riesling Tradition btg, so you may find me pouring a glass of that at the end of the night.
Photos by Jennifer Day