The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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Page 30 of 124

30 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 { bottom line } THE DAYS OF sommeliers existing exclu- sively in a world of wine cellars, trade tast- ings, free lunches, and busman's holidays are quickly coming to pass . . . or have they already? Wine specialists represent such large investments for serious, profit-driven "wine restaurants" that many a somme - lier's job description now entails far more than composing wine lists, tracking stock, polishing glasses, and popping bottles. Today's sommeliers are more likely to play the role of floor managers, maître d's, and staff trainers. They organize seat - ing charts, post schedules, hire and fire, conceive and execute special events, write newsletters or blogs, update websites, open doors in the morning for the prep crew, and lock up when everyone else is gone for the night. It appears that in order to be valued, you increase your worth by doing everything. I performed such quasi-manager/som - melier duties for more than 20 years, developing my own approach while borrowing best practices observed in other successful companies. Much of my perspective has also been based on the notion that in order to guarantee future success for your restaurant—or even an orderly multi-unit expansion, the dream of many a chef/owner—your greatest chance of being successful comes when you train each and every staff member as if they'll eventually take over your job. Staff members trained to their full potential, after all, possess an experienced skill set equal to (or even surpassing) our own. Individuals with a developed instinct for accountability and sense of urgency— that is, a manager's feel for urgency and accountability—are always the most dependable. If we want to get to a place where we can trust our staff to perform at their highest level, the best way to facilitate that is to give them opportunities to do exactly that: perform tasks reinforcing a manager's mentality with the exhaustive wine knowledge of a sommelier. Your own credentials as a sommelier or manager, after all, are only as strong as your establishment's, and it takes an entire team of strong, driven individuals to make a restaurant flourish. Among the ideas that can help establishments reach this goal: • Composing a thorough staff "primer" on everything from standards and proce - dures of service to all the wine and food components pertinent to your restaurant's cuisine and wine program. This can then be tested at a 100 percent pass rate. • Assigning individual one- or two-page reports on specific subjects applicable to your wine program or cuisine. They can then be copied for the entire staff or posted on an in-house information site. • Compelling senior staff to participate in new training efforts and then rewarding them with perks, further responsibilities, and, when appropriate, promotions. • Encouraging staff to attend trade tast - ings as well as file official reports on their findings. This can lead to tangible opportu- nities to contribute to the wine program, making it theirs as much as anyone's. • Utilizing staff for inventory: What bet- ter way to learn where everything is while increasing accountability? It Takes A Village BREAKING DOWN HOW RESTAURANT SOMMELIERS CAN PERFORM AT THEIR HIGHEST LEVEL PHOTO: MARKEK VIA ADOBE STOCK by Randy Caparoso

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