Thomas Price, MS

Thomas Price, MS

Associate Faculty Member, Auburn University

Thomas Price has been in the Hospitality Industry for his entire adult life. Thomas was born in Pasadena, California in 1965. His family moved to Alaska when he was 7. Thomas’ first restaurant job was as a Dishwasher at a diner in Juneau at the age of 14. By 18, Thomas was the day Lead Cook at an upscale burger house called Harry’s in Anchorage. Thomas moved into the front of the house as a Server and Bartender upon turning 21. His passion for wine was instantaneous, (Graham’s ‘76 Malvedos and Stilton did the trick!), and was fueled by a stint as a Server at Zeppo’s, an Anchorage wine bar, and wait shifts at their parent restaurant, The Marx Brothers Cafe.

Thomas moved to Seattle in 1988, where he met his lovely wife, Jessica. Jessica shares Thomas’ passion for food and wine, and they both worked at some of Seattle’s most notable restaurants of the era, (Dahlia Lounge, El Camino, Etta’s Seafood, The Santa Fe Café and Luau Polynesian Lounge).

In 1997, Thomas and Jessica opened their own restaurant, Luau Polynesian Lounge, in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. In 2004, Thomas and Jessica decided to pursue other challenges, and sold Luau.

Thomas decided to attempt to obtain his Master Sommelier certification, the highest standard for wine and spirit sales and service in the world. Thomas began as a waiter at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill, and obtained his Introductory Sommelier certification in September of 2004.

In 2005, Thomas was promoted to a Sommelier/Captain position and in 2006 he obtained his Certified Sommelier certification. Thomas was approached by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to be the Wine Director for it’s Seattle, Bellevue and Portland Or. stores. He was there until 2007, and returned to The Metropolitan Grill as a Sommelier. In September of 2007, Thomas passed his Advanced Sommelier certification on the first try, and became eligible to sit The Master Sommelier Exam.

In June of 2008 Thomas was named Head Sommelier at The Metropolitan Grill. Thomas obtained his Master Sommelier certification in May 2012, being the first person of African American descent to do so in history. He joined the JFW team in 2014.

He is currently the National Director of Wine Education for Jackson Family Fine Wines, and has held that position for 8 years.
In that time, he has achieved numerous other professional milestones, including being commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel, elected to two terms on the CMSA Board of Directors, being named Director of Scholarships for the Board of Directors of SommFoundation, and appointed to the CMSA Diversity Committee.
Thomas loves working markets all over the country, and specializes in distributor trainings, market work and outreach, and consumer events.

Thomas is dedicated to sharing his passion for wine with his co-workers, guests, students, friends, and loved ones, one bottle at a time.