Alexander LaPratt, MS
"It’s not always the most expensive or rare wine that creates the greatest experience. Often what matters most is whom you share the bottle with."
Born and raised in the Detroit area, Alexander LaPratt, M.S., took his first restaurant job nearby at Morels a Michigan Bistro in Bingham Farms. He was inspired by working alongside Morels Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon, and then met Wine Director Rajat Parr while working as the dining room captain at Michael Mina’s Saltwater and Bourbon Steak in Detroit. Rajat's influence prompted Alexander to take the next step in his career and move to the San Francisco Bay area.
Early on in his career, Alexander temporarily switched from the front of house to the kitchen to gain entry into Tribute, a restaurant he believed he had a lot to learn from. His instincts were good, and Tribute Chef Don Yamauchi went on to become one of many valued mentors. Since that time, Alexander has been no stranger to working with renowned chefs dedicated to the quality of their restaurants’ wine cellar and service.
Alexander was a sommelier for Eric Ripert at the newly remodeled Le Bernardin, he joined Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group as head sommelier at DB Bistro Moderne in 2009, and he spent two years as the first cellar sommelier at Thomas Keller’s renowned French Laundry. The incredible attention to detail he learned there became second nature, particularly thanks to another great mentor, Head Sommelier Dennis Kelly, M.S. Before venturing out to open his own restaurants, Alexander was the chef sommelier for renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his eponymous and three-Michelin-starred flagship restaurant, where he focused on the perfect harmony of food and wine, which manifested in the restaurant’s many wine pairing options for the ever-changing tasting menus.
In 2010, Alexander took ﬁrst place in the New York Ruinart Chardonnay Challenge, a blind tasting event bringing together many of the city’s top sommeliers. In April 2011, he earned the title of Best Sommelier in America at the American Sommelier Association competition and just one month later went on to ﬁnish secnd overall in the Chaine des Rôtisseurs Best Young Sommelier National Finals. At the second annual StarChefs Somm Slam, Alexander emerged victorious after enduring a three-day, real-time pairing competition against 10 of the nation's most renowned sommeliers. In addition, Wine & Spirits Magazine named Alexander “Best New Sommelier” in its October 2011 issue, and he represented the United States of America in the Best Sommelier of the World Competition in Tokyo in 2013. Alexander then went on to become the 217th person to pass the coveted Master Sommelier exam in 2014.
He has received many accolades for his contribution to the gastronomic and hospitality industry, such as being inducted into the L’Order des Coteaux de Champagne as well as receiving the Diplome d’honneur from the Acacdemie Culinaire de France. However, his love for the industry, dedication to hospitality and the quest for knowledge clearly trump the status of the many accolades and competitions this sommelier has under his belt. He is a founding board member and the current treasurer for The Best Sommelier in the United States Organization. Alexander also starred in the first season of Esquire’s sommelier-focused show “Uncorked.”
Alexander and his partner Leslie Affre own and operate the restaurant Atrium DUMBO, which is Michelin recommended and focused on market ingredients in Brooklyn. His restaurant obtained the Best Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2017, 2018 and 2019. When it comes to wine and food enjoyed together, Alexander believes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He favors an approach to wine that minimizes complexity, emphasizes pleasure and makes people comfortable with their own taste, knowledge and budget.
Alexander strongly believes in passing on his broad knowledge of the industry gained through his many roles and joined the Institute of Culinary Education in 2020 after years as an adjunct instructor at ICC. His other projects include a sommelier as a service voice application for the Alexa platform, an equal opportunity technical fabric suiting project for sommeliers and a retail wine store.