Born in Calcutta, India, Rajat Parr’s first love was food leading him to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Welcome Group Graduate School of Hotel Administration and the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Parr credits his uncle in England for first introducing him to great wines, which inspired him to begin his career as an apprentice to one of the industry’s most acclaimed master sommeliers, Larry Stone at Rubicon in San Francisco. While working closely with Stone, Raj gained extensive knowledge of great wines from around the world, and developed a particular affection for the wines of Burgundy. In 1999, Parr brought his expertise to Fifth Floor in San Francisco, which quickly received rave reviews and the Grand Award from Wine Spectator after only two years.
“Nothing is more pleasing than finding the perfect pairing. In 2003, Parr was named Wine Director for the Mina Group, where he has develops and manages the wine programs at each restaurant: ARCADIA (San Jose); MICHAEL MINA Bellagio (formerly AQUA Bellagio), AMERICAN FISH, NOBHILL TAVERN, SEABLUE and STRIPSTEAK (Las Vegas); SEABLUE (Atlantic City); MICHAEL MINA and CLOCK BAR (San Francisco); STONEHILL TAVERN (Dana Point); BOURBON STEAK (Detroit, Scottsdale, Miami, and Washington, D.C.); WIT AND WISDOM (Baltimore) and SALTWATER(Detroit).
With the opening of RN74 in San Francisco and Seattle, Raj had yet another opportunity to focus his tremendous wine knowledge and passion on creating an unparalleled wine program. The realization of a longtime dream for him, RN74 is a wine bar and restaurant inspired by his extensive travels and experiences throughout the region of Burgundy. Parr was rewarded when RN74 won the 2010 Grand Award of Excellence.
“At RN74, we have the opportunity to create a world-class wine list and beautifully executed cuisine sharing equal billing, drawing inspiration from each other and creating a perfectly balanced gustatory experience,” says Parr. “In building the cellar, we have put an emphasis on wines which have the depth to fully complement the cuisine. Nothing is more pleasing than finding the perfect pairing.”
While building his various wine programs, Raj has had ample opportunity to become familiar with many of California’s greatest wines, vineyards and styles. This education, and in conjunction with his deep passion and knowledge of Burgundy, led him to create Sandhi Wines. Sandhi is born out of his pursuit to produce California wines with acidity, balance and finesse.
Parr is an ardent wine educator who has been invited to host seminars and lead panel discussions at several of the country’s most prestigious food and wine gatherings. He enjoys creating and hosting wine dinners that share his love of wine with others. His new book, Secrets of the Sommeliers, chronicles his experiences as a wine industry luminary.