The Art of Fine Wine and The Fine Art of Service


HAROLD TOUSSAINT, sommelier-lecturer-consultant, and founder of The Wine School in 1998, began his culinary career in the finest restaurants French Quarter restaurants in his native New Orleans, La. Since, he has held diverse positions in the food service industry.

In Boston, Massachusetts, he was an asst. maitre d’hôtel at Maitre Jacques and banquet maitre d’hôtel at Maison Robert (both owned by the renowned restaurant couple Lucien and Anne Robert); working under his mentor, Hugo Biasizzo.  Later, Toussaint worked as maitre d’ at La Coquille in Dennis, Cape Cod, and as sous-chef under Leon Marti at Le Languedoc, on Nantucket. In 1977, Toussaint opened Lulu's Supper Club, New England's first Creole-Cajun restaurant, as a consultant (getting most of the recipes over the telephone from his mother and importing much of the product from southeastern Louisiana).

Moving on to San Francisco, during the eighties, he worked as a sommelier at The Carnelian Room; and sommelier/assistant maitre d’hotel for longtime friend, Jacky Robert at Amelio’s. Both restaurants have The Wine Spectator “Grand Award."

He was Instructor in Dining Room Crafts and Related Areas for The California Culinary Academy before joining the San Francisco Hotel-Restaurant Labor-Management Education Fund as Master Instructor /Consultant (1980 - 1984) where he had written the curriculum for their Banquet Food Server’s Refresher Course and a 24 session A La Carte Food Servers Course. In 1985 he began Harold Toussaint’s Seminars in Wines and Cheeses of France for a panel of chefs, sommeliers, writers, collectors, and novices.

Toussaint is the first American to earn the internationally recognized title, Maitre Sommelier, “Gold Medallion,” from the French trade organization SOPEXA (Société Pour la Promotion de Produits Argo-alimentaires). He also holds the internationally recognized titles: Best Sommelier of San Francisco Region, 1980 - 1985 and Finalist, Best Sommelier in America Competition, 1984 and again in 1985.

In, 1986, he was classified “beyond competition,” for having won his region for an unprecedented three times, successively.  1988, Toussaint relocated to Boston and worked at The Ritz-Carlton (Arlington Street) in the capacity as Chef-Sommelier (head of the sommelier brigade) before restarting Harold Toussaint's Seminars in Wine and Foods of France; lecturing, consulting, and organizing and conducting wine seminars and wine dinners at hotels, restaurants, and culinary schools throughout New England.

The Improper Bostonian “Best of Boston” 1997 issue heartily declared Toussaint “One of the friendliest and most knowledgeable wine guys you’ll ever meet.”

Most recently, The Boston Globe described him as “Boston’s Sommelier-At-Large,” for his work in establishing wine programs and service and management programs for several prestigious restaurants, such as PLAZA III Steakhouse in Quincy Market, Ambrosia-On Huntington, Mills Falls, Caveau at Marché Boston (starting up and maintaining a wine bar, oyster bar and retail wine shop for their 36,000 sq. ft. food emporium) also the wine list at Lumière in West Newton; as well as lecturing at culinary schools throughout New England, including Boston University’s Seminars In The Culinary Arts and New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier and Essex/Colchester Vermont.

Toussaint is also a playwright and poet. His work has been featured at Louisiana Jazz and Heritage Festival, Brainwash Laundro-Café in San Francisco, and the renowned Café Brasil in New Orleans.