A star sommelier was arrested in New York City this week and accused of setting fires to outdoor dining structures at rival businesses, authorities said Thursday. Caleb Ganzer, 35, has been charged with two counts of third-degree arson, two counts of third-degree criminal mischief and three counts of second-degree criminal mischief, officials said.
“Every act of arson has the potential to spread rapidly, endangering the lives of New Yorkers and FDNY members,” Daniel Nigro, the FDNY fire commissioner, said in a statement. “Thankfully in these incidents, there were no injuries and the suspect has been apprehended before another fire could be set.”
Ganzer is the wine director and co-owner of La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, a French wine bar located in the Nolita neighborhood of New York. “We as the company are aware of the incident, and Mr. Ganzer is on a leave of absence,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Ganzer is accused of setting three separate fires. On January 8, he allegedly started a fire on the outdoor dining structure owned by Forsythia Restaurant. On the morning of June 26, he allegedly set fire to a pile of rubbish on Broome and Centre Street, and on July 13, he’s accused of lighting another outdoor dining structure on fire, this one belonging to Prince Street Pizza. Fire officials said no one was injured by the fires.
Fire officials released surveillance footage of the Prince Street blaze, where a man is shown lighting both sides of a structure with a lighter.
Ganzer is known for his quick rise in the wine industry. In 2012, he was included in the Zagat “30 Under 30” list for up-and-coming restaurant masters. A year later, he took the role of sommelier at Eleven Madison Park before moving to La Compagnie. He has received multiple accolades, including a 2016 Wine and Spirits magazine Best New Sommeliers and a 2017 Food and Wine magazine’s sommelier of the year.
“New York is one of those places where the longer you’re here, the more you carve out your own niche, and the more you want to make that niche bigger,” Ganzer said in a 2017 interview. “New York’s become home.”