Born into a family of winemakers, from his earliest years Philippe Marchal knew he was destined to become a sommelier. He came to the United States to join DANIEL as an assistant sommelier in December 2001 and became the restaurant’s Chef Sommelier in January 2005. As a Strasbourg native, Philippe admits to a penchant for Alsatian wines, particularly Rieslings, but is delighted that the guests he serves are adventurous when it comes to trying the wines from all over the world that make DANIEL’s list unique. “There had been wine makers in my family as far back as anyone can remember”, explains Philippe, “they were still making Riesling and Gewurtztraminer in manual basket presses when I was a little boy”. Philippe cherishes these memories along with the taste of the Mirabelle Eau de Vie his family made each summer with plums from their orchard. By the age of ten, Philippe himself was taking part in Alsatian grape harvests.
This young sommelier’s career has been decidedly international, taking him from Alsace to the Côte d’Azur, the English countryside, New York City and even Japan, where he participated in a wine festival along side Serge Dubs, then Meilleur Sommelier du Monde. It all began in 1989 with an apprenticeship to “Meilleur Jeune Sommelier de France”, David Kaminsky. “By the time I met David, I knew I wanted to be a sommelier”, says Philippe, “but he really set me on the right path and inspired me with his depth of knowledge, his desire to know everything.”
Philippe’s home town of Strasbourg is capital of the Alsace region and an important culinary and wine making center. His first professional steps were taken there with a two year apprenticeship at the two-star restaurant, Le Cerf, followed by three years at another famed local restaurant, Julien. His passion for film next led him to Cannes, site of the renowned international film festival. It would be Philippe’s home for the next several years as he worked in the world class Hotel Martinez and its two star restaurant, La Palme d’Or, where he arrived in 1993 as a commis and left in 2000 as assistant sommelier.
Philippe’s grandfather had always told him that the family would have at least one world traveler in each generation. Fulfilling this prophecy, Philippe’s career took him to England. At Chef Michel Roux’s acclaimed Waterside Inn at Bray. Philippe came in to contact with an ever more sophisticated clientele and an exquisite collection of rare Mission Haut Brion and Château d’Yquem.
With no family or friends in the United States, Philippe took a bold leap, sending his resume to New York’s DANIEL, where his professional pedigree and passion were all too apparent to Chef-Owner, Daniel Boulud. While the wine list Philippe nurtured at DANIEL may be primarily French, it also embraces selections from around the globe, including Philippe’s new world favorites such as Australian Syrahs, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and Oregon Pinot Noirs.
In 2008, Philippe joined Kobrand Corporation as French Portfolio Manager.