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In the world of fine dining and exquisite wines, few names carry as much gravitas as Rachael Lowe. Our CGO Ankita O.'s first meeting with Rachel in 2021 was nothing less than inspiring and insightful. As we reflect on her journey, marked by relentless dedication and an impressive array of accolades, it offers invaluable insights into running a successful business, particularly in the competitive sphere of food and beverages.
As part of our series "How Would You Run Your Business?", we had the privilege of interviewing Rachael Lowe, the Director of Beverage for Levy Restaurants, Chicago, IL, diving deep into her strategies, philosophies, and the decisions that make her an industry leader.
She passed the advanced sommelier degree from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas in 2009, securing a top score that earned her the coveted Rudd Scholarship. This achievement was just the beginning, as Lowe went on to be named the 2010 Jean Banchet Top Sommelier, the 2011 Star Chef Rising Star Sommelier, and the 2016 Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year. Further, she clinched the top prize at the 2010 Ruinart Chardonnay competition, a testament to her exceptional palate and understanding of wines.
Image: Rachael Lowe (Courtesy: Instagram)
Her experience spans across several prestigious establishments. Lowe served as a Sommelier at Bouchon in Yountville, CA, under the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. This stint was preceded by her role as Sommelier in various New York City fine-dining venues, including Café Gray, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC Hotel. Moving to Chicago marked a significant turn in her career, where she oversaw wine and beverage management at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. She also served as Wine Director for Naha and Brindille before taking over as Director of Beverage for Spiaggia.
In 2018, Lowe's career reached a new pinnacle when she was promoted to Director of Beverage for Levy Restaurants. In this role, she oversees the group’s portfolio of 13 different restaurant locations nationally, showcasing her unparalleled expertise in managing a diverse and extensive beverage program.
Our conversation with Rachael centered around her strategies for success in the highly competitive world of fine dining and wine curation. She emphasized the importance of continuous learning, staying abreast of industry trends, and fostering relationships with winemakers and distributors.
Lowe believes in a hands-on approach, ensuring that each restaurant in the Levy portfolio reflects a unique character while maintaining the highest standards of quality.
Image: Line and Lure, Chicago
Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and business managers is grounded in passion and perseverance. She underscores the need for a deep understanding of one’s field, an unyielding commitment to excellence, and the ability to adapt to changing market dynamics. Lowe’s journey demonstrates that success is not just about individual talent but also about how one leverages their skills to create a lasting impact in their industry.
Rachael Lowe's story is a beacon for anyone aspiring to carve a niche in the hospitality industry. It serves as a reminder that with the right blend of expertise, dedication, and strategic vision, one can not only excel in their field but also significantly influence the broader industry landscape.
As an esteemed judge at the Sommeliers Choice Awards (SCA), Rachael brings her expert palate and extensive expertise to evaluate the finest wines from around the globe.
Image: SCA 2024 Judges
For brands looking to showcase their wines and gain recognition in a prestigious platform, this is a golden opportunity. The early bird deadline for the SCA is closing in just 24+ hours. We urge interested participants to seize this chance to have their wines judged by top sommeliers like Rachael Lowe.
Enter now and be a part of our acclaimed competition.
Stay tuned for more insights and stories from industry leaders in our series "How Would You Run Your Business?"
Also, as a bonus here’s a great talk Rachael gave at the International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show on Private Label: