First post in the forums here. I’m a chef of nearly ten years who has worked everything from fast casual to fine dining. I recently decided after spending a summer working with two certified sommeliers that I wanted to move in the direction of working with wine.
To that end I’ve got my introductory sommelier test in March and will continue studying towards my certified.
My question is what is the best way to break into the industry? I have lots of restaurant experience but it’s all back of house. Do I look for a FOH serving job and practice that way or do I look for a wine specific position?
Thanks for your time!
First off, good luck to you in your endeavors. I have to agree with the approach that many mention below. Its just like being in a kitchen. If your goal is to work on the floor of a restaurant as a sommelier and to become a leader in the dining room, you need to find great people to learn from. Its an apprentice-ship in the sense that you are learning a new craft. Just as in a kitchen, you will need to find mentors and leaders to learn from in a dining room. You are in Colorado, a pretty healthy wine area. I would make some trips to Boulder and to Aspen when learning opportunities present themselves.
If you are looking to work with wine, and not in a restaurant then retail shops would provide an opportunity to work with wine while not having to learn a whole new set of skills. Either way, start to engage people on Guildsomm that are in your local area. Find tasting groups or other local somms and people that are studying to become somms. That community is huge, and one that can really help you. Often, the best jobs are found via word of mouth and not in an ad.
It really depends on what you want to do. Are you interested in being a Michelin starred sommelier that is passionate about service and hospitality? Or are you interested in learning only about wine, matching food and wine, and working with wine outside of a restaurant? You could want to work with wine in a bistro, or in a formal dining room. Identify where you see your career in wine 5 years from now, and put yourself on that path.