Sommelier Victoria James on Time Well Spent in a Small Kitchen

victoria james kitchen

Sommelier and author Victoria James can often be found preparing foods in the kitchen while she says her husband is the real chef of the family. “We work best together,” she says. Lenox Signature Series by Sommelier Victoria James. Photo by Seth Caplan


November 16, 2021

Kitchen Tours with Creatives goes behind the scenes to photograph some of the top creatives in their home kitchens, exploring their design philosophy and what they most love about their own spaces. 

Victoria James stays busy. These days she’s juggling a new baby and splitting time between her charming farmhouse in Connecticut and a packed schedule in NYC, where she works as beverage director and partner at Cote. Plus she is launching a new wine glass line with Lenox called Lenox Signature Series by Sommelier Victoria James. Victoria is a sommelier, entrepreneur, author, and cofounder of Wine Empowered—a nonprofit working to diversify the hospitality industry by empowering women and BIPOC with tuition-free education.

But you might never guess how busy Victoria is by her open and friendly demeanor. She even made time in her hectic days recently to share a few things she loves about work and home with our team at Sixtysix. We toured her Connecticut home, where she says her style is “Parisian flea market meets provincial countryside.” We couldn’t envy her space more.

Victoria’s kitchen is an old scullery. The farmhouse was built in the 1930s—a time when kitchens were very small. “Some people find it crazy that we bought a place with such a small kitchen since we are always entertaining and cooking, but we love it!” Victoria says. “There is something about the intimacy that makes putting together dishes here with my husband all the more special. Plus, I’m used to restaurants and, as a sommelier I’ve worked in NYC kitchens that are half this size. We’ve cooked dinners for 20 from here!”

Victoria shares a bit more insight into her world here.

I spend most of my time in the kitchen… right now preparing both baby and wine bottles.

When it comes to kitchen design, I really wish people would… keep wine storage in mind.

A beautiful addition to the kitchen is… our collection of copper pots and pans! We always scour Dehillerin when we are in Paris for more copper, and you can sometimes find used ones in the Parisian flea markets, Cookin’ in San Francisco, or online if you’re lucky. Lyle, my husband, loves keeping them polished so they always catch the light and brighten the kitchen. Of course, they’re not just decorative—they’re excellent for cooking!

We use a wood-burning fireplace… and cook over the coals in under an hour. We like to start the fire, have an apéro and snacks, then start grilling—fish, steaks, vegetables from our garden or Happy Acres farm nearby—limitless options! The fireplace is in our dining room so it’s perfect for entertaining since you can grill and still be with guests. It’s funny, at Cote, where I am the director of beverage and partner, we grill everything table side as well, so I suppose it’s me taking a bit of work home.

Proper stemware in the kitchen is… crucial. It’s funny—some of the best chefs and foodies, when I go to their houses they have lovely cookware, but then they have these stubby little glasses for wine or Clydesdale-like goblets that look more like weapons than stemware. Wine is an important ingredient to a good meal, and it deserves the proper vehicle to enhance the aromas and, well, make the wine taste better.

Produced by Studio Sixtysix
Art Direction by Kristina Walton Zapata
Photos by Seth Caplan
Edited by Laura Rote


Studio Sixtysix is the in-house creative agency to Sixtysix magazine. Studio Sixtysix stories are conceived, produced, and edited by Studio Sixtysix.