The Daily Beast reports that a high-profile sommelier in New York City, Caleb Ganzer, was arrested and charged with multiple arson-related crimes. As a sommelier, wouldn’t you want to avoid doing this, since fires make wine taste like ashtrays?
Ganzer is accused of setting off a string of fires in January, June, and July of this year, all within a 10-block radius of lower Manhattan. Thankfully, no injuries were reported. All of the torched locations were near Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, the restaurant where Ganzer served as the wine director and managing director.
He was initially nabbed for a fire set on July 13 at around 3 a.m., burning a wooden outdoor dining structure owned by Prince Street Pizza. Surveillance video from that night shows a man walking up to the wooden structure and setting one post on fire with a lighter before repeating the deed on the other side. He then simply walks away. Per The Daily Beast, the ensuing fire caused a significant amount of damage to the patio, charring the wood and melting plexiglass that was part of the structure. After widening the investigation, FDNY marshals concluded that Ganzer was also responsible for a similar structural blaze outside another restaurant on January 8, as well as a trash fire on June 26.
According to Starchefs.com, Ganzer has multiple accolades, including being named one of Food and Wine’s 2017 Sommeliers of the Year and Best New Sommelier of 2016 by Wine & Spirits Magazine. His resume also includes high-end restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Boulud as well as Compagnie de Vins Surnaturels.
But this isn’t his first time appearing in the media for non-wine-related reasons. Oddly enough, Ganzer registered himself as a candidate for the most recent presidential election, which turned some heads. WBCS quotes him as saying, “It’s actually surprisingly easy, you just have to fill something out online. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I was in third grade.” Hey, I’m of legal age, maybe I should do that for the next election. Minus the arson.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Ganzer’s employer said, “We as the company are aware of the incident, and Mr. Ganzer is on a leave of absence. If there are any other follow-up questions at this point, we have no further comment.”