At 36 years old, the head sommelier of the restaurant Le Chambard (Alsace) already has an excellent track record: best young sommelier in France, title of Best Working Sommelier in France and, more recently, he was distinguished by Gault&Millau as chef sommelier of the year. Meeting with an enthusiast.
Published on December 1, 2023 at 09:00
The Hotel and Restaurant Industry: When did you know you wanted to be a sommelier?
I started this job because I was passionate about cooking. I made an additional mention of the sommelier, telling myself it was a plus. During this training, I interned at the Vallée Verte restaurant, in Munster, and discovered the profession of sommelier. I went from the kitchen to the dining room, I had to learn the basics of service, it was difficult. These are people like Romain Iltistoday head sommelier at Villa René Lalique, and my teacher Frederick Simon who inspired me, who gave me my passion for wine.
I also discovered sommelier competitions. I completed 3It is in the Chapoutier competition and at the time, the finalists had ten days in Australia. This is one of the elements that made me understand that with this work you can have opportunities.
You participated in many competitions. How do you live these experiences?
When I participated in my first competition, I wanted to go further. For me, competitions are objectives, engines that allow us to question ourselves and advance in our career. I never tried to win, but rather to live it with passion. For twelve years, until the MOF title, I didn’t abandon books or competitions. You have to manage changes in the house and the boss at the same time. A house’s policy regarding competitions changes each time.
What message would you send to someone who wants to enter a competition?
Take pleasure in the moment, but also in learning. We have the opportunity to do work of passion. The same happens with competitions, it must remain within the framework of passion and pleasure. Competitions should not be an end in themselves.
How do you work in a competition like MOF? What is your opinion about this competition?
The MOF is long-term work, over an entire career, it is the experience gained in other competitions, in professional experiences, in different meetings. This is what forms the basic basis of your knowledge.
You have worked as head sommelier at the Le Chambard restaurant in Alsace alongside Olivier Nasti since 2016. What have you implemented?
Many things, but if we have to choose just one, I will talk about a very unique work on food and wine pairing. I started in the kitchen, then quickly set up lights that came on for the chords. These are quite instinctive agreements that change depending on the customers, their nationality, what they tell us, the context of their meal… to offer something tailored. We also offer something besides wine, such as ciders, beers, cocktails and sake. And we work on an alcohol-free agreement. We offer a wide variety of drinks.
We can afford all of this because we have a great team, a very detailed menu and tools that help us offer wines by the glass. What we reap today is what we sowed seven years ago. We started with two, today we are seven or eight.
A tip to stand out as a sommelier?
Accept risks. It could be pouring a wine blindly, listening to the customer, but adding a twist. Challenge yourself, take small risks, sell different wines. But don’t forget that in the end the customer must be satisfied.
Which manager are you?
I like to broadcast and develop my teams. In our professions, we welcome employees who won’t necessarily stay for years, so if I can help them further their career via a phone call, I’ll be happy to do so.
Your next goal?
Continue to pass on my experience to those who work with me and help them if they want to compete.