Executive Wine Director, Savio Volpe Group, Vancouver
See it, like it, want it, work it—that’s the Shiva Reddy way. The executive wine director of Osteria Savio Volpe actually grew up in an traditional Indian alcohol-free home, but she enrolled herself in the Wine and Spirit Education Trust immediately after meeting her first sommelier. “He was charming, impeccably dressed and could romance any wine,” remembers Reddy. He was also a man, which seemed to be the norm as Reddy entered the world of wine pros at top kitchens around the city (first helping out with wine classes at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, then working at Hawksworth, Juniper, Royal Dinette, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, and Como Taperia). Despite her speedy climb through the ranks, the hospitality industry’s lack of diversity was a constant challenge. “I felt like I wasn’t good enough because everybody else looked so different from me, especially in wine,” says Reddy.
Even after taking over the wine programs at the Savio Volpe Group (which includes Osteria Savio Volpe, Pepino’s Spaghetti House, Caffe La Tana), Reddy still felt out of place at industry events—and, for a while, stopped attending them altogether. “But last year, I realized I was the only one getting hurt by not participating,” says Reddy. She made the decision to not only claim her own space, but also to create space for other women of colour in hospitality. Outside of her restaurants, Reddy works as a panellist and mentor for Empower Her (an organization aimed at connecting female-identifying hospitality leaders). Through this group, she comes face-to-face with young women of colour who are just starting in the industry, sharing with them both her knowledge and her own story. Inside of her restaurants, she makes the often-intimidating world of fine dining more accessible by providing honest, down-to-earth service—serving up sauvignon while wearing sneakers. “When people come into my restaurants, I want them to feel as if I’m welcoming them into my home,” says Reddy.
Photo by Makito Inomata
Q&A with Shiva Reddy
Most underrated varieties of wine?
Chenin blanc and primitivo.
What’s your favourite unusual food and wine pairing?
Xiao long baos and amontillado sherry.
What’s the best part of being a somm?
Getting people excited, and showing them that somms can also be women of colour wearing rad sneakers.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Trying not to drink wine every day.
Bed, tea, Netflix... Please send noodles.