By Tova Green
Seth Corr joined the staff at Greens Restaurant as Beverage Director two years ago, after nearly twenty years of working in the beverage industry. He brought with him a wide range of experience in different roles and a varied network of colleagues.
When Seth learned of the job opening at Greens, he jumped at the opportunity. He knew that Greens was connected with San Francisco Zen Center. “It was a perfect fit.”
Over twenty-five years ago, when Seth was in high school, he accompanied his father to Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. He noticed that every guest room had a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Seth read the book in one sitting and has carried it with him everywhere he goes since then.
Seth appreciates that “in Zen practice, you are never an expert. You experience things freshly, as if you were a beginner.” In applying that teaching to his work at Greens, he said, “I wish people could think that way about wine. You really can’t be wrong in wine.” He would like people to trust their palate. “It’s about the live moment, what you’re in the mood for. If you’re celebrating, perhaps champagne. You may want a drink that will wake up your palate before a meal or help you wind down afterwards. You don’t have to know what you like in order to enjoy it.”
Seth orders “everything liquid” for Greens—wine, non-alcoholic beverages, tea, and coffee. He has a deep background in cocktails and wine and has also worked as a barista. Greens is a good fit for him because its standards are high and there are special offerings in every category on the menu. “I buy what is delicious and respectful of the land and of farmers.” He seeks out growers who farm in a careful way, and works with his sales representative so that they know what he is looking for. “The wine industry is about building relationships, about collaboration.”
Serving alcohol-free beverages is a growing trend in gastronomy, and Seth takes pride in the new line of alcohol-free drinks he has been introducing to the beverage menu. He enjoys building flavor in these drinks, so that “you’re not missing anything.” He describes them in the same ways he describes wines. Greens is particularly well suited for this development as “the clientele is very conscious of what they are putting in their bodies.” On the beverage menu there is an entire section devoted to alcohol-free drinks. On some nights they are ordered as often as wine, beer, and cocktails.
One of Seth’s favorites is a “Red Wine Alternative” from Copenhagen, that uses low alcohol micro-ferments similar to Kombucha, and then is steeped with teas and other ingredients such as fig leaves and sloe berries. “These flavor combinations can create food pairings that are every bit as interesting as wine and sometimes even more exciting. It’s such a fun new world.”
Seth enjoys developing new projects at Greens. He comes from a family of builders and contractors, and has studied architecture. Currently he and others are working on converting the Greens to Go alcove into a mini-bar with five stools.