As a member of any food and beverage establishment, what are the obligations of the Somm to the crew? If in an establishment composed of four Level 3's, 5 Level's 2's, 4 Level 1's and 15 non Somms, what role does each of the Somm Levels play in their interactions and communications with each other? Is there any obligation at all? Does the title Sommelier as given by Guild Somm have meaning and obligations beyond the rules, procedures and protocols of the establishment?
That seems that it would be completely dependent on the established hierarchy within your restaurant. Usually there is he senior, or lead some/wine director that controls the list.
It a perfect world they would take input from the other sommeliers, and establish a training schedule to allow for the educational betterment of lower tier/non somm, all the while using that as a means for self advancement.
Also, a floor somm rotation should be set up to give equal opportunity for all to practice their learned skills, and keep fresh on the service aspect.
At the end of the day, customer service is key
Thanks Robert. Im focusing more on what the GUILD SOMM titles mean individually. Do we have any obligation to each other? Should Level 3's be guiding those below them on how to taste, how to identify, how to pair ... all the time? Or, is it just evryone for him or herself. In other words, "I'm not the Manager or the Head Somm. I have no power. I'm just an employee and I do my job. I have no obligation to anyone."That I believe is likely true of most establishments from an HR perspective, but what does that pin we earned actually mean, especially when it comes to how we interact and treat our fellow staff, Somms and non-Somms alike, servers, hosts, cooks, chefs, dishwasher, foodrunners, bussers, etc ... What does being a SOMM (especially a GUILD SOMM) actually mean?
This seems like somewhat of a philosophical question.
But in way of clarification, Guild Somm bestows no titles on anyone; and in the truest sense of human nature no one has any obligation to anyone else. In the bigger sense of treat others as you'd like to be treated this beverage community is one of mentorship and collaborative learning so, if one has the knowledge, time, and willingness, one should always try to help those who are more nascent than themselves as it only helps the whole establishment and community.
In regards to CMS dictated requirements there are none.
All you can say about someone with a pin, based solely on their pin, is that they passed a test.
The title that you have through the CMS doesn't reflect on your ability to do the work at any given restaurant and what positions people have earned through their time there. The pin that you wear shows that you passed a test, yes, but that pin is only a reflection of your willingness to dedicate yourself to passing a test. Can you make some inferences about knowledge and skills? Perhaps, but how would you compare a Cert who has a family and has been running a successful program for a decade and decided not to go for Advanced due to quality of life issues vs a backwaiter at the same establishment who loves wine, is single and has had the time to study, and has managed to go from Intro to Advanced in four years? The Advanced would have more insight into the test, but does that mean that because they passed that test they should run the program instead? I'd argue that for sheer wine knowledge, you should go to the Cert who has been running the program for ten years.
What relevance that test has to one's current position depends on what kind of worker that person is. No matter what pin you have, you should always be humble and willing to seek out knowledge from those who have it. Similarly, it's your obligation to share information with those that don't know, doing so in a manner that is gracious and hospitable. To me one of the true marks of someone who wears their pin with pride is a genuine thirst for knowledge and I hope that you're enjoying your journey in the wine world!
Echoing Mr. Ford, GuildSomm does not bestow titles or other accreditations. That falls to other organizations such as the Court of Master Sommeliers, Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Institute of Masters of Wine, etc.
That said, the role(s) of a sommelier is largely dictated by the employer or establishment. Outside of specific, job-related duties, many "higher level" sommeliers pay it forward to those up-and-coming through the ranks, whether that be in helping proctor tastings, aiding in theory/study, administering mock service scenarios, and so on.
I think you'll find responses to be extremely varied, as being a sommelier itself can mean many things. One of the things I think holds true, regardless of what facet of the beverage business, is that a sommelier is expected to embody genuine hospitality, grace, and humility.
Then again, maybe I'm an idealist.
Bravo, Martin Beally. That is the greatest answer I have ever heard!
I wholeheartedly agree with Martin here.
Your pin does not take care of your guests. Your pin does not provide hospitality. Your pin does not bring a positive attitude to work, and it doesn't mean that you are a team player.
A sommelier is a role in a restaurant, a specialist that should be able to perform every other task in an above average manner. You should be able to tend bar, call the pass, clear tables, run the front door and sweep the floor. You should also be a resource for your team.
One recommendation for your team of all the different levels- take your pins off. I did, and rather than having conversations and interactions with guests about me, i get to focus on them.
I love your response Jonathan, totally agree
Yours also Martin
Well said sir, well said! You are a true example of humility and hospitality.
This seems like a conversation to have with the Somm team you work with. Perhaps all getting together and discussing each of your professional goals in / outside of work would help drive some structure and give some ideas for how such a large Sommelier team could help mentor each other. As Martin referenced, each person will have their own background path / experience and could provide support / inspiration to each other regardless of certification level.
Most of my sommelier career has been as a beverage director / business owner where I was the person responsible for setting the wine and education culture for the restaurant, but I worked a stint as a sommelier for a restaurant with a tremendous list while starting my wine business. Working with 4 other sommeliers (most advanced, but one not on certification path) was an incredible experience. Really inspiring to see day to day how others are making their study / work goals come true with completely different backgrounds and home life responsibilities. And each had very different ways of engaging with guests - picked up techniques from all.
As you are the one asking about obligations as a sommelier, I would say that you should be the one to initiate some team support / mentorship. Sometimes it is just a matter of changing the established wine culture, not the people in it. Good luck!
Yes! Very well stated, Jonathan.