Fil-Am celebrity sommelier resigns after being accused of sexual assault

Julia Moskin, The New York Times

Posted at Nov 08 2019 09:20 AM | Updated as of Nov 08 2019 09:51 AM

Celebrity sommelier Anthony Cailan at the Usual in July 2019, the Manhattan restaurant where he has served as beverage director. He has denied the allegations against him. Ricky Rhodes via The New York Times

NEW YORK — Sommelier Anthony Cailan, who was a rising star in the wine world, has resigned from the downtown Manhattan hotel where he worked, after a New York Times report last week in which several women said he had sexually assaulted them.

Bogdan Docu, general manager of the Nolitan hotel, on Kenmare Street, where Cailan was beverage director since June 2018, confirmed that the sommelier no longer worked there in an email Thursday. Cailan is also no longer employed at the hotel’s restaurant, the Usual, where his brother, Alvin, remains the chef.

Anthony Cailan, 29, is alleged to have sexually assaulted, or attempted to assault, at least four women, two of whom described the incidents in detail in The Times and were named in the article.

Cailan responded last week: “The truth is, these allegations against me are false. I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name.” He could not be reached for comment this week by email or phone.

After the article was published, Wine & Spirits magazine, which last month named him one of America’s Best New Sommeliers of 2019 and ran his photograph on the cover, posted on Instagram: “We are deeply troubled by the allegations reported in The New York Times against Anthony Cailan. He was selected by his industry peers in our annual Best New Sommelier poll, and we were unaware of the allegations against him until today. Wine & Spirits does not condone sexually inappropriate behavior, and we hope this will be a catalyst for change in our industry.”

On the magazine’s website, Cailan’s name remains on its list of the Best New Sommeliers.

In another accolade, in 2017 Cailan was appointed by the Bordeaux Wine Council, a marketing arm of the vast Bordeaux wine business, as an “ambassador” in the United States. The appointment expired at the end of 2018, but Cailan continued to use the title on his email signature and public social media profiles. (Those accounts were taken down after the Times article was published.)

In response to a request for comment, a spokeswoman, Cécile Ha, wrote in an email: “The Bordeaux Wine Council does not condone misconduct in any form and, as an organization committed to accountability, we hope this brings about change in the wine industry.”

Docu, of the Nolitan hotel, added that none of Cailan’s accusers worked at the Usual and that its management was not aware of any allegations against Cailan by any past or present employees. “The Usual does not tolerate any form of harassment in the workplace,” he said.

Online, hundreds of people in the wine business posted their support for Raquel Makler and Sarah Fernandez, the women who told The Times, on the record, their accounts of being assaulted. Many women expressed relief that the systemic misogyny and sexual harassment they have experienced in their workplaces have become public knowledge. Some said there are many more offenders, more powerful than Cailan, who remain protected by silence and fear.

“I hope people don’t think that just because Anthony isn’t working at the Usual any more, we don’t still have an immense amount of work to do,” said Talitha Whidbee, owner of Vine Wine in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “This is just the start of a much larger conversation.”