General Manager / Sommelier
In March 2008 when Marc Forgione restaurant, formerly named “Forge,” opened in New York, Matthew Conway created the basis of a beverage program that articulated the restaurant’s approach to fine dining. As the General Manager and Sommelier, Conway’s intuitive, inventive and carefully constructed selection of approachable wines compliments Forgione’s dishes. Marc Forgione was awarded a Michelin star in the 2010 and 2011 guide, along with consecutive cocktail symbols, which recognize Conway’s program and reflect the growing trends in cocktail culture. Of the 715 restaurants in the 2011 guide, only 29 cocktail symbols were given.
Like Forgione, Conway trained professionally in France and their dual commitment to world class service is felt from the moment guests walk into the dining room. From May-July 2010, Conway joined a select list of only three other Americans in history who have been invited to complete the three month intensive Sommelier training program at Taillevent in Paris. For over 65 years, Taillevent has been recognized as having one of the finest wine cellars in the world. Conway’s experience is on display at Marc Forgione, where he captures the restaurants spirit through creative cocktails and artisanal wines that change with the season and a wine list compromised of 80+ bottles.
Conway was introduced to the restaurant industry at the age of 16, when he worked at his family’s restaurant outside of Sacramento, CA. Upon graduating high school in 2000, he relocated to Boston, followed by a brief period in San Diego, where he discovered that his skills in a professional kitchen were better utilized in front-of-the house operations. In 2002, he returned to Sacramento to open a new restaurant concept with his mother, where he independently built the restaurants wine list, trained staff and managed the full-range of hospitality functions before turning the restaurant over to a friend in 2004.
In 2004, Conway moved to New York to attend the American Sommelier Association (ASA), where he completed the 24-week course of Viticulture and Vinification. Although optional, he chose to enter the ASA’s “Blind Tasting” course and went on to become one of the first Sommeliers to pass a blind tasting of six wines in 24 minutes. After completing the full program in 2005, Conway was hired as an opening captain at (the now closed) Pace in Tribeca, under the direction of Jimmy Bradley and Danny Abrams. It was there that he mastered over 350 Italian selections and expanded his repertoire of Italian wines significantly.
In March 2005, Andrew Bell, President and CEO of the ASA recommended Conway to Gray Kunz, owner of Café Gray and he was immediately hired as the restaurant’s Sommelier. Working alongside renowned Wine Director Alexander Adlgasser and General Manager Richard Hollocou, Conway proved to have his own taste and style. In May of the same year, Adlgasser left for Austria and Conway was named Beverage Director. He worked there for two years until he was asked to over see both Café Gray and Gray’s new project in the Rockefeller townhouse, Grayz. At Café Gray, Conway’s energy was directed at re-focusing the predominantly Austrian wine list which resulted in an expanded list of a global selection of varietals. With Conway’s direction, the 75-bottle list grew to over 300 selections, which he continued to develop until December 2007.
Conway is a feature writer for Sommelier Journal, providing noted expertise on food and wine pairings, and has had multiple articles about his creative cocktails and wine selections featured in Sante, New York Magazine, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit.