An American Sommelier in Paris

Have you ever dreamed of living in France? Well some of us go beyond the dream and make it a reality. So it was for our French history major come Sommelier Preston Mohr. Meet the man who has been pairing exquisite wines with our chef’s creations.

I’ve known Preston for many years now – too many to even count at this point. But it’s funny how you can know someone, hang out with them often and still not have asked some of the questions that likely brought them into your life and your circle.

When we started the cheese & wine classes at Cook’n with Class Paris, Preston seemed to me to be the perfect instructor to pair up with Chef Eric, who in those early days, presented the French cheeses, for which Preston made the perfect wine suggestions. Anyone who has taken a class or a tour with him can tell you he is an enthusiastic instructor. He took his interest beyond the steps that even many French people have taken who equally call themselves sommeliers, by going to school and earning a certificate further legitimizing his knowledge base and making him a valuable member of our team.

Preston leads our Cheese & Wine Class, Works alongside our chefs in the selection of the wines we serve at the school, teaches in our Chef’s Table – Food & Wine Pairing class with one of our chefs & leads our Paris Gourmet Food Tour.

I invite you to get to know our Sommelier, good friend and French food expert – and yes, I feel that I can justly call him an expert. He may not have gone to culinary school but he certainly knows his way around the kitchen and is a great source for advice on some of the best places to eat in Paris. Without further ado, I present you, Preston Mohr:

Why Paris? What made you to move here from the US?

I had always dreamt of living in a foreign country and I had studied French from age 15, so it made perfect sense to come here! After graduating high school, I took a several week European trip and Paris was my first and last city on that trip. I was completely amazed by Paris and the Parisians! The food, the culture and the history made me want to try it! In college, I was a French & Art History major, so coming to Paris for a year of my studies fit in perfectly.

Was it hard to make the dream of living here come true?

Yes! Getting the right visas, battling the French bureaucracy, finding lodging and work was definitely very difficult! But I persevered as I wanted this so much and everything just naturally fell into place. If I were to give anyone advice on moving here, I’d say, be patient, learn to speak proper French and meet as many people as possible.

What you were doing in the US before moving?

Certainly not drinking any good wine! Since I was only 22 when I moved here for the first time, my palate was not necessarily very advanced or discerning. I was working in various dead-end and non-soul-satisfying jobs so I figured it was time to make a move and try out Paris.

What kind of classes or tours do you offer to people visiting France?

I offer wine tastings, gourmet tours and vineyard day trips to Champagne and the Loire Valley. I try to emphasize the history and cultural importance of gastronomy and wine in the French lifestyle. In addition to the historical aspect, we taste a lot of wonderful foods and wines along the way!

What’s the most popular class you receive requests about?

My most popular class request would definitely be the Cheese & Wine Class at Cook’n With Class on Wednesday evenings. This is like a French Wine 101, a great introduction to understanding French wines, the terminology and the labelling. Many of my clients are fine wine lovers and have drink great wines from around the world, but often feel intimidated by French wine, which is why I love teaching this class so much.

Could you tell us something more about the Paris Gourmet Food Tour you are organizing? What makes them so unique?

My gourmet walking tours open doors to visitors to Paris. As a tourist, we often feel intimidated to go in and ask shopkeepers questions or even just have a look in a specialty food boutique. I like making my clients’ feel welcome to sample unique and typical foods while they are here, rather than just visiting the most famous food shops in Paris. I like to feature the small, family-run independant food purveyors. I realized that most visitors to Paris leave here with a not so great view of French food and French people (because they often eat in tourist traps and only stay on the main tourist circuits). I wanted to change that and allow people to leave with a real taste of Paris!

Do you have one favorite place on a culinary map of Paris which you visit really often?

I love the Marché d’Aligre (Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris) for its authentic charm. The market is full of gorgeous fruits and vegetables and the nearby streets are lined with fabulous specialty shops. There is a real old-world feel to the market.

What three words would you use to describe Paris?

Chic, exhilarating and delicious!

Preston earned the Champagne Master-level certificate from the French Wine Society and completed his degree from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

For more of Preston’s expert wine tips and local food advice, catch him during our Chef’s Table– Food & Wine Pairing, Cheese & Wine Class or our Paris Gourmet Food Tour at Cook’n With Class Paris. You can also visit his site to book his serves for wine tours outside Paris or for private bookings.

Interested in French cooking classes in Paris? Book a class with Cook’n With Class Paris – small group sizes, classes all in English.

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