The Black Wine Guy Experience
Wheeling Forward. Yannick Benjamin’s Unstoppable Drive to Bring Innovation and Inclusion to the Wine Industry.
MJ’s guest today is esteemed Somm, wine educator, restaurateur and disabilities advocate - Yannick Benjamin. Yannick is a proud New Yorker from Hell’s Kitchen. Born into a family of French restaurateurs, he has worked for many highly regarded restaurants throughout NYC: Le Cirque, Oceana, Jean-Georges, Atlas, Felidia, and Atelier at the Ritz-Carlton. In 2003, a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. However, his passion for wine drove him to quickly adapt, outfitting his wheelchair with a table that allowed him to continue working as a sommelier to educate on wine. Yannick went on to create “Wine on Wheels,” one of New York City’s largest and most exciting wine events. Yannick’s tireless work and innovative vision is bringing awareness and visibility to seldom-heard voices in the wine industry and championing inclusivity. He has recently added restaurateur to the list of his many accomplishments, opening up Contento in East Harlem, NYC. In this episode MJ and Yannick discuss everything from his colorful childhood in Hell’s Kitchen to the big influence of pop culture on Yannick’s dreams - specifically the tv show Cheers and the Tom Cruise flick, Cocktail. Yannick shares the story of his car accident - discussing what it looked like both physically and emotionally to get to where he is today. MJ gets the inside scoop on what it took to open his first restaurant Contento, which features intentional, accessible design for people with disabilities as well as delicious wines of impact, made by people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The energy is high, the conversation deep and the inspiration infinite in this one folks.
A huge thank you to Yannick Benjamin!
Follow him on IG @yannickbenjamin
Check out his restaurant Contento: https://www.contentonyc.com/
Follow them on IG @contentonyc
Learn more about Wine on Wheels and their events: https://wineonwheels.org/
This episode’s in studio wines:
Ellison Estate Vineyard
La Coccinelle Et La Guêpe
Until next time, cheers to the mavericks, philosophers, deep thinkers and wine drinkers!
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