Sebastian Zutant realized his calling was in the food and beverage industry at an early age. Raised in Rockville, Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Zutant dabbled in the restaurant industry, making pizzas and pastas at a neighborhood Italian eatery, before attending the College of Charleston in South Carolina. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in photography in 2000, Sebastian returned to DC and worked as a server and manager at Chef Geoff’s.
Sebastian continued to hone his hospitality skills at Nectar, a fine-dining restaurant known for its eclectic wine list and progressive American cuisine. It was during his tenure as a waiter at Nectar that Sebastian chose to concentrate his career on wine.
In November 2003, Sebastian joined chef Johnny Monis to open the highly acclaimed Komi. During their second month, Sebastian was put in charge of Komi’s international wine list, selecting bottles to complement the wide array of Mediterranean flavors found on Chef Monis’ menu.
In December 2005, at 28 years of age, Sebastian was tapped to serve as sommelier of Rasika, the modern Indian refuge in DC’s Penn Quarter. At Rasika, Sebastian developed a distinctive wine and beverage program meant to pair with both sweet and spice; the cocktails he developed featured premium ingredients and creative touches, while his wine list focused on eclectic choices and the best of traditional varietals. For his forward thinking and unique wine list selections, Sebastian was nominated for the StarChefs’ Rising Star Sommelier Award.
Prior to joining the team at Proof, Sebastian spent the 2006 vintage at Deloach Vineyards under Greg Laffollet to learn the ins and outs of wine making: working the fields, grape tasting, production and bottle blending. His work in making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley continues to inspire him in his wine selections for Proof’s clean, balanced cuisine.
In 2007 Sebastian was a key partner the Proof restaurant team to develop the most unique and dynamic wine program in Washington, DC. Sebastian’s constant drive to find the unique was truly allowed to blossom with the over 1,000 bottle wine list and 50 wines by the glass. He coordinated wine and beverage education and training for all front-of-the-house staff, including daily staff wine tastings. While the wine list was full of incredibly rare wines, it was the simple and unknown wines that truly gave the list its breadth. Because of this, in 2010, Sebastian was awarded the “Best Wine Program” award from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Prior to Proof’s opening, Sebastian successfully passed the intermediate level exam administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers and became a Certified Sommelier.
In 2013 Sebastian and Mike Freedman left Proof to open the acclaimed Red Hen with partner Mike O’Malley. The restaurant has won manly accolades, Best new Restaurant from Eater and RAMW to name a few. Sebastian has continued his path on unique wine programs at The Red Hen focusing the list on natural wine producers, the first of its kind in Washington. To this day it has yet to be done again. As well, Sebastian has been searching for lesser known regions like those in the Republic of Georgia, as well as Slovenia and other Balkan countries. Sebastian continues to oversee the wine programs for both The Red Hen and All Purpose.