May 16, 2023

Tom Meek writes:

Post LM led to unfruitful years in college that had me wondering what’s next. I spent a year working in Pittsburgh then my father’s career had them leaving Ardmore for Los Angeles. It was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. 

 

LA was a good place to reinvent myself. It was also a great place to be in my 20’s. Playing lacrosse 10 months of the year (until I was 35), hanging out with friends at Hermosa Beach, hiking in the San Gabriel mountains, enjoying the 80’s LA music scene and working, though not yet hitting my stride career wise.

 

After ten years I moved with a girlfriend to San Francisco, where she was from and starting law school. Living in The City was great fun too. Living life without needing a car was novel. Great markets and restaurants, hiking the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands, cocktails on the Larkspur ferry. 

 

A marriage and divorce had me longing to leave the field of business management which was unfulfilling in every way imaginable. It wasn’t scratching my creative itch. 

 

That’s when I made the bold decision to go back to school - in my 40’s, no less - to enter the California Culinary Academy in SF. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. Finally pursuing a career track that had me jazzed. 

 

After getting my degree, I cooked at a highly regarded Cal-Provenšal bistro for a year to gain “back of the house” experience and to further refine my palate. By this point I had become determined to enter the wine business.

 

Working in SF at one of the nation’s best wine shops gave me the chance to taste through hundreds of wines and expand my palate. It was a great experience.

 

The year 2000 had me moving back to Philly where I had previously set up my widowed Mom on Rittenhouse Square. It was there that I decided to take the challenge of becoming a sommelier. After a short stint at a fine dining restaurant I was hired as sommelier at Brassiere Perrier then promoted as same at Le Bec Fin. 

 

Working with the professionals at Le Bec Fin was an invaluable experience. While there, I had the privilege of being nominated by the James Beard Foundation as one of the top five sommeliers in America in 2002. 

 

However, I wanted to get back to retail where the hours were more normal and the setting more conducive to spending time with customers and product. It also provided more liberty to travel frequently to trade tasting events in New York where I could find the variety of small producers and natural wines I desired. 

 

Because of PA’s archaic laws I finished my wine career working as a wine director at a couple retail markets in NJ. Working in this arena was so much fun, enormously fulfilling, providing numerous travel opportunities to Europe to visit wine producing regions. It never felt like I worked a day in my life. 

 

I loved living in Center City and my old home on Wynnewood Rd is now owned by my childhood friend which gave me the chance to “go back home” repeatedly, but in 2013 I moved to Buffalo, NY. This beautiful, recovering rust belt city has been a blast to retire to as real estate costs then were so advantageous that I found an awesome Arts & Crafts home on a great street and neighborhood. 

 

My passions have moved on from lacrosse to wine to gardening now. Eighty indoor plants and a front and rear garden loaded with thriving spring bulbs and native plants. I also keep busy with occasional restoration projects. 

 

Otherwise, I love to take road-trips which involve visiting cities with interesting art museums and worthy dining destinations. My life is shared with my beautiful and brilliant girlfriend Felicia (an Oklahoma native) and the cutest rescue tabby, Twiggy.

 

Thanks for listening ‘73

My 9th grade ID photo from ArdmoreJr High:
Me today:

My girlfriend Felicia:

Lower Merion HS Class of 1973

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