Thursday, 3 February 2011

Comfort Zones

Comfort zones are funny things, both cosseting and suffocating at the same time. I'd been working in restaurants for nearly six years when I left Le Bouchon Breton in the middle of last year, which being honest was about five and a half years more than I expected when I first agreed to work as a part time sommelier at Ashdown Park.
Don't get me wrong there have been some wonderful highs as well as some grindingly difficult moments.
I've been very lucky in that it turned out I was quite good at what I did, I made a lot of friends and was lucky enough to be taken on quite a few trip.
However this is all over. I have changed sides. For five years as a head sommelier I've been courted by suppliers, I could be difficult, arrogant, rude, coquettish, playful, helpful, irreverent, forgetful, it didn't really matter. The simple truth was that if a supplier wanted my money, then he had to work for it. I am now that person, I'll be smiling when people are rude to me, I'll be gently trying to suggest that maybe, just maybe the wines I need to sell might be better placed on their lists.
For years I had the pick of all the suppliers wines in London, if I wanted a wine, I could pretty much have it to work with. This is a wonderful privilege, all the more fun when you're spending someone else's money.
Now I have a much smaller pool of wines to work with, I'll have to be creative when people tell me that what they really want is a Sauvignon de Touraine, this is good. I'll be a much better placed to meet the winemakers and really discuss what they're doing around the world as I take them round the restaurants that list their wines, but along with this will come the trouble of persuading busy sommeliers and buyers to take half an hour out of their day to sit with me, taste some wines and hopefully offer up the requisite platitudes to the winemakers in question that will make them feel content about their trip over.
To add to the impending displacement I'm moving back to London in a day, admittedly I'm moving in with some friends, but it's still a case of two big changes coming back to back.
So with crossed fingers and a sense of adventure I'm starting to pack again..

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