Matt Sussman | Table Donkey & Stick

5 Questions With Sommelier Matt Sussman

I’m Matt Sussman and I’m the owner of Table, Donkey and Stick. We’re a small neighborhood restaurant in Logan Square and our inspiration is taken from the regions around the Alps, both for the wine and beverages that we focus on, as well as our food.

Q1: What does the words Sommelier mean to you?

So, you know growing up, I’d heard of the word sommelier and I think I probably had the same impression that most people have, which is that it’s someone at a really fancy, French restaurant. I grew up in New York, so somewhere in New York City who sells very expensive, old wines – like a Bordeaux. My family wasn’t really into wine, but we did have some family friends who were collectors so that was something that I’d sort of heard of. Since then my idea has sort of evolved. I don’t know if I’m 100% comfortable calling myself a sommelier, but I think most people’s image of a sommelier has changed a lot since when I was growing up.

Q2: What is a typical day like for you?

My days vary a lot depending on whether we have tastings or I’m meeting with sales reps. But, a typical day usually includes some kind of wine tasting, whether that’s an organized tasting for a portfolio or a producer who is in town or a visit with a sales rep. But I also do a lot of the, sort of, behind the scenes management of the restaurant – so things like payroll and coordinating marketing and all kinds of logistics that are not particularly interesting and not nearly as much fun as the wine part.

Q3: If you could have a glass of wine with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you pour for them?

This was a tough one for me, but one person who came to mind – and I was a history major in college so, that’s one reason why he came to mind – was Napoleon. You occasionally read about some historical wine that was enjoyed by Napoleon; and when he was in exile it was something that he was bringing in so that he could drink it while he was in exile. I think it would be fun to pour him a No Dosage Champagne and see what he thought of it because I think he enjoyed Champagne and the Champagne that he drank was very different, so that might be fun.

Q4: What is your current favorite touristy thing to do in Chicago?

I don’t know how touristy it is, but one thing that I would recommend that people who are visiting the city do is get some DIm Sum for brunch in Chinatown – unless you come from San Francisco or New York, in which case you can do that at home.

Any favorite spots?

I usually go to Cai, although I feel like I need to expand my horizons because I’m sure – I mean, I’ve heard of other places that have great Dim Sum down there too. But probably the last 6 times I’ve gone, it’s been Cai every time.

Q5: What is one food and wine pairing that is not to be missed on your menu right now?

That’s a tough question, but I really love snails and we have a snail dish on the menu currently with some Spring ingredients – roasted radishes and leeks, some creme fraiche and a little pierogi skin and I like that with a German Pinot Noir that we’re pouring by the glass right now from the Becker Family. It’s a lighter style, but it’s still kind of earthy and I think that’s a fun pairing.

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