Off to the Big Apple

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem
01: Megan Shean (wearing a Manhattan skyline-lined coat), Sabato Sagaria and Lea Tucker.

Master sommelier Sabato Sagaria made the move from Aspen to Manhattan this month, leaving his post as food and beverage director at The Little Nell to join restaurateur Danny Meyer as chief restaurant officer for his Union Square Hospitality Group.

Union Square Hospitality Group operates a series of Michelin-star-awarded, James Beard Award-winning restaurants in New York City, including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Maialino, and Untitled at the Whitney Museum, as well as Union Square Events, Hospitality Quotient consultants and all the Shake Shacks around the globe.

A series of send-offs was lined up in Sabato’s honor, starting with an “I Love NY” party hosted by friend and colleague Lea Tucker. Embracing all the emblems of New York, there were apples filled with tea lights and back issues of the New Yorker and The New York Times for table centerpieces; a soundtrack of New York anthems by greats from Frank Sinatra to Jay-Z; and a buffet of pizza, cheesecake, doughnuts and even hot pretzels like the street vendors peddle.

Friend Spencer McKnight, of local TV Channel Aspen 82, where Sab served as a food and beverage correspondent on the air from time to time, remarked that night that what he’ll miss most about Sabato are his sense of humor and being “the go-to guy” for wine picks, pairings and insights.

Bookending his celebrations was a farewell gathering at Ajax Tavern with fellow Skico colleagues and friends. Mike Kaplan, CEO of Aspen Skiing Co., added that Sabato “brought a youthful energy, sophistication and access to the world-renowned wine program at The Little Nell” like none other, which will be missed.

But as they say about New York, if he can make it there, he’ll make it anywhere, and Aspen will always be his home away from home.

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