Oakland County restaurant veteran Lindsay Martinik to take over beverage and service duties for the outgoing Rachel Van Til

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Bringing a concentrated dozen-plus years of fine dining experience to the table, Lindsay Martinik has been named new sommelier and service manager at popular Mabel Gray in Hazel Park.

After attending the Oakland Community College culinary studies program for restaurant management, the Farmington Hills native began her service journey under the same roof as Mabel Gray chef James Rigato. Martinik worked at Morels, while Rigato was in the kitchen at the adjacent Shiraz, both Matt Prentice Restaurants that have since closed.

“Back then I remember thinking James is going to do big things with his life,” she said

At Morels, Martinik worked under wine expert Madeline Triffon, the first American woman to pass the Master Sommelier test. Martinik said Triffon gave her “the initial drive to do what I do.”

Later, she worked with another Detroit area Master Sommelier, Claudia Tyagi, at Forest. Martinik spent several years serving at the Birmingham restaurant and at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak. About three years ago Cafe Muse offered her the position of full-time beverage manager, which is where she worked until taking a position as a server at Mabel Gray, citing a need for new scenery.

By bouncing around so much and working different scenes simultaneously, Martinik has developed a relationship with local diners as being an approachable beverage expert who appreciates a cider or cocktail as much as fine wine.

At Mabel Gray, she’s stepping in for Rachel Van Til, who moved from Traverse City to Metro Detroit to help open the Hazel Park hot spot in 2015. Van Til, who is headed to Dallas to work under Master Sommelier Barbara Werley, was named one of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s four Best New Sommeliers in 2016.

Rigato says he’s had Martinik on his mind for Mabel Gray from the beginning.

“We worked together under Madeline Triffon ... we’ve stayed in touch and dined at each others’ restaurants frequently,” said Rigato, adding that they both have a love of a variety of beverages from sour beer to vermouth. “Lindsay’s wine knowledge and experience is fantastic and our wine program will remain exciting and satisfying to our wine enthusiasts.

Martinik, who is personally partial to negroni cocktails, said she’ll continue with some of the beverage programs that Van Til put in place, like the restaurant’s “bomb champagne program.”

“I love champagne, it’s so versatile,” she said. “We sell Drappier Champagne, we’re selling it by the glass, and no one around town is really selling that level of champagne by the glass.”

Martinik is looking to expand the cocktail program to be more guest-focused to go with the chef-driven menu. She says she has “big shoes to fill” when it comes to the wine side of the job, but she’s confident her knowledge and expertise is a fit for the farm-to-table restaurant.

“I think people want to try the new cool beers and they want to try cocktails and we can incorporate that into the tasting menus a little bit more,” said Martinik, 34, who joined the young staff at Mabel Gray — no employees are older than 37 — in late 2016.

Mabel Gray, 23825 John R in Hazel Park, is open for dinner Tues.-Sat. Call (248) 398-4300 for reservations. The restaurant will be closed July 2-10 while chef Rigato is cooking out of town.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2402

Twitter: @melodybaetens

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