Gaining experience in the field is the first step in learning the ropes.
During my time in school, I started to work during the weekends in the bakery down the street and I helped in the banquet hall in town when they had large wedding parties.
I wanted to submerge myself as much as possible in the industry.
Internships were also included during the culinary art program.
So my first year, I interned in a gastronomic restaurant in Spain in the kitchen. I was in charge of the preparations of vegetables and fish and during the service, all of the desserts came from my station.
Being away from home for 6 weeks in a country where I didn’t speak the language was my first big test. But nomads will always find a way.
Luckily enough, the restaurant was owned by a very European family. The patron came from Belgium, his wife from The Netherlands. Their son ran the kitchen and was married to an Italian lady. Imagine the amount of different languages we could use in 1 sentence!
My second internship was in a Michelin star restaurant closely by my home town.
My knowledge of the front of house had to level up to keep up. Michelin star restaurants are being held to very high standards and consistency is key.
I discovered that I thrive better in high quality environments.
No wonder I requested my sommelier internship in De Karmeliet, a 3 Michelin star restaurant with one of the most impressive wine lists I had ever seen!
I was beyond excited to see they had ‘my wine’ Meursault Perrieres by Coche Dury!
If only we could sell one bottle … I would be able to taste it!
I had shared my obsession about this bottle and it turned out that my prayers were being heard!
So one night, it was a Saturday, I was in charge of the small dining area, Benoit, the head sommelier, came to me:
‘Ann, I have a surprise for you downstairs in the wine cellar. I’ll take care of your section for a second. Go and let me know what you think about it.”
And there is was, a glass of wine with a little bit of Meursault Perrieres from Coche Dury.
I was surrounded by around 500 bottles of wine, all of the best in the world, sipping the wine that represented the point it all started for me.
My hospitality fire inside lit up and created a memory nobody ever could erase!
Xo – Ann