Hi. My name is Timothy Nishimoto, a vocalist, percussionist, and the tour photographer for a world-traveling band, Pink Martini (www.PinkMartini.com), a restaurateur (www.CoppiaPortland.com), and a Certified Sommelier (CMS), dubbed by Wine Spectator magazine “The Singing Sommelier” (read interview here).
I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, but, after finishing at California State University at Long Beach (Business Administration) over twenty years ago, I made a new home in Portland, Oregon, where I still live with my partner and two Bernese Mountain Dogs.
My passion for music took flight early in life; beginning at age two, I often sang with my family in front of the church congregation! I took guitar lessons, sang in the vocal jazz ensemble and barbershop quartet in high school, and was in musicals in college.
The restaurant industry got under my skin at a young age, too; when I was 15 years old, I had two restaurant jobs! Since then, I have held every front-of-the-house position, but most of my years in the industry have been as a manager.
In 2005, I opened a wine bar and bistro, Vino Paradiso, then, in 2011, we re-branded as Coppia, with more of an emphasis on pairing the food and wine of Piedmont, Italy.
My wine epiphany moment was in 1985, when I tasted Grgich Hills Chardonnay for the first time. I’ll never forget how it was less like what I knew as wine, and more like an elixir, full and round, with balanced flavors of ripe green apple, light butterscotch, and…oh my, what’s that…is that oak?” I haven’t been able to put the glass down for decades now.
Pairing wine and food is my biggest passion in life (probably even more so than music), and it is what motivates me in this business the most. Becoming certified as a Sommelier—a beverage professional, with the main focus being on wine, and pairing it with food—by the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2007 was part of a natural progression for me.
By 1994, I had all but given up the dream of a career in music, but after a failed attempt at a restaurant start-up, I was at a crossroads. Randomly, I found myself at a party at the home of Thomas Lauderdale, who had just started a fun little lounge band, called Pink Martini, and the next day I was in his studio, picking out songs I could sing with the band. For two years, I sang as a guest vocalist, trying desperately to win the battle over stage fright, but it always reared its ugly head, and I lost. Five years would pass before I sang with the band again.
In 2002, Thomas rang, as they needed someone to sing the lead vocals on a Japanese song, “Kikuchiyo to Moshimasu” for the band’s second album, and soon I was asked to join the band as a full-time member. I immediately started taking percussion lessons, and I have been a professional vocalist and percussionist ever since, traveling and playing to packed houses around the world. (My stage fright? “Karaoke Saved My Life” could be the title of my memoirs. I kid you not.)
Why The Blog?
This blog is here for several reasons: 1) to serve as a log of places I’ve been to, special restaurants I’ve dined in, great bars I’ve drank in, to reference later, and recommend, 2) to serve as an outlet for me as a budding photographer and writer, 3) to share tips on travel, wine and food pairing, 4) to give a glimpse of what life is really like as a member of a world-touring band, and, 5) to let my family know what I’m up to.
The two amazing professions I am in, food/wine, and music, are vastly different, but when I’m on the road, my two worlds collide on a daily basis. Because of this, it’s simply impossible for me to pen a blog that separates the two, to have just one focus. Hence, the wide range of subjects covered in this blog. I’m a Libra, what can I say?