Having fallen in love with wine at the age of 16 after visiting a winery in Collioure, I was lucky enough to come across an article in the local paper near St Etienne a few years later about a famous sommelier called Gerard Basset, founder of Hotel Du Vin! I wrote to Gerard for a one month summer job (this was before email existed, that’s how long ago it was!) and thanks to Gerard’s kindness and the fact he was so open-minded, he took me on board for what was meant to be a one month training period, 18 years ago!
I did a year at catering school in the Loire Valley to attain the Complementary Mention Sommellerie. Subsequently I worked at several top restaurants in France, such as the two Michelin Star Le Laurent in Paris and the luxurious Villa Belrose in St Tropez.
I became Chief Sommelier at the Hotel du Vin from 1999 to 2004, working for Gerard Basset MS, MW OBE. I was also a finalist in the prestigious Ruinart UK Sommelier of the Year in 2001, I then went on to win the award in 2002 and also passed the Master Sommelier exam, becoming the youngest MS in the world in 2002, a very proud moment for me!
2004 was a scary time for me, but an amazing experience!! In my first fine dining experience, I became the Head Sommelier for Raymond Blanc in the prestigious Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. It was there that I met my former business partner, who was at the time Le Manoir’s Head Chef. In September 2007, we opened Texture, a restaurant based on Portman Street, Marble Arch.
Texture added a Michelin star to its list of awards in 2010 with other accolades including the Drink Out Excellence Award 2009, Remy Martin London Restaurant Award winner – Newcomer of the Year 2008-2009, 3 Rosette AA Guide 2008-2009, The Independent New Restaurant of the Year 2007 and Best Newcomer in the 2010 Caterer and Hotelkeeper Catey Awards.
I also co-founded the wine bar group, 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen which included sites on Fetter Lane, Marylebone and Maddox at the time of my departure in May 2015. The same year, I was fortunate to receive a Cateys award for drink and spirit ambassador.
I am currently working on several projects, including 2 restaurants, Blandford Comptoir in Marylebone and a wine orientated restaurant near Bank, both due to open spring ’16. In addition to this, I am consulting for Snowline / Chalet VIP , portfolio of 70 luxurious chalets in the Alps and I’m also a part-owner of Greenwich Kitchen near the O2 Arena.