Less than six months after he earned the prestigious title of Master Sommelier, David Keck announced Thursday that he's departed from Camerata, the Montrose-area wine bar he opened with Paulie's owner Paul Petronella in 2013.
"I’m not leaving Houston, which seems to be everyone’s biggest concern," Keck tells CultureMap. "I’m here. This is where things are awesome. The wine business is cranking. I’m not going anywhere."
Certainly, Keck, who Food & Wine magazine dubbed one of this year's top sommeliers, deserves much of the credit for making Camerata one of Houston's best places to drink wine. His eclectic list reflects the accumulated knowledge that allowed him to pass the famously difficult Master exam, and the talented, passionate staff displays the service standards that Keck honed at Uchi.
"Camerata has been brilliant . . . I’m so grateful to the staff I worked with," Keck says. "This has been my baby, and I’ve done everything to try and make it successful. It has accomplished all of those things I hoped it would. It’s been a blast."
Thankfully, the bar is in good hands. New general manger Lindsay Thomas recently passed her Advanced Sommelier certification, and bartenders like TexSom best sommelier winner Rachel DelRocco will help ensure patrons are well taken care of.
"Lindsey is the general manager. I think Paul’s pretty sure he knows how to run the wine program, so I’m going to let them do that," Keck says diplomatically. Petronella has yet to respond to CultureMap's request for comment on Keck's departure.
As for the future, Keck is vague about his plans. Pushed about whether he and chef Peter Jahnke have plans to turn their well-received LÜNCH pop-up into a restaurant, the sommelier acknowledges he has "a couple irons in the fire" but demurs on the specifics.
"You know how things work in this town," Keck says. "It’s not news until it’s news. And it’s a ways off."