This morning, via email, Chris Stewart and Sarah O’Kelley, co-founders of the Glass Onion, announced O’Kelley’s departure. Six years after opening the nationally recognized restaurant, the talented pastry chef tells us she’s off to take some needed vacation and pursue the Court of Master Sommelier’s advanced level exam.
The move from pastry to wine may come as a surprise to some, but O’Kelley says her interest goes all the way back to when she worked with Sue Mohle at Ted’s Butcherblock. “Sue was running the wine program. She was the one who first started teaching me and nurtured my interest in it,” says O’Kelley. (Mohle now runs Kiawah Spirits and Wines at Freshfields Village.) Beyond Mohle, O’Kelley credits Charleston Grill sommelier Rick Rubel with further advancing her interest in wine. “Whenever I would go to Charleston Grill, Rick would encourage me to step things up,” O’Kelley adds. In fact, in 2007 O’Kelley wrote one of CP
’s first stories
on sommelier certification. She cites that experience as part of the reason she decided to start taking the exams. Having passed the intro and certified levels, she’s now prepping for the advanced test.
“The advanced would give me another level of knowledge that I need to move forward,” she says. It will be a lot of work. In fact Rubel has already told her that following a short break she should begin training — tasting and studying. She also has a trip planned this fall to work the harvest in Beaune, France, which she calls the heart of Burgundy country.
As to what she’ll do after that — open a restaurant, a wine shop, or begin educating people on wine — O’Kelley isn’t certain.
As for her days as a baker, she says she will miss it. “I bought myself some new pans and equipment if I get homesick for baking,” she says. And though she doesn’t know where her oenophile passions will lead, they’re not taking her out of the city. “I love it here. I’m attached to so many people. The restaurant has been like a family to me, with our staff and regular customers. I’ve watched people’s kids grow up,” O’Kelley says. “I haven’t been all dry eyes about this, but it’s the right decision for me and for the restaurant. I know Chris has a great vision for moving forward and I’m fully confident in the continued success for Glass Onion.”