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Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Xavier Faber

Our next sommelier we interviewed is a special case as he isn’t really a sommelier anymore… although once a sommelier, always a sommelier?! I’m talking about our dear friend Xavier Faber former sommelier with more than 15years experience in restaurants like that brought him to restaurants like Seagrill **, La maison du boeuf, etc.. and managing several restaurant. Let’s also not forget to mentioned that in 1999 he won the title of Best Sommelier of Belgium!!

After all those years he traded all that wine for water as for the past 10years he’s been working as sales manager for Spadel which is the group that owns BRU and Spa water brands.

What must also be said is whenever Xavier is around the words fun and laughter always come to mind :-) He’s one happy camper :-) He really likes to spread the love and bring smiles on people’s faces… which actually reminds me of my dad, so maybe that’s why I like him that much.

I know I said he now chose water over wine, but he still does a lot to support young sommeliers and help out wherever he can (he’s a big example/inspiration for lots of people). That’s also the reason why I wanted to interview him.

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

I don’t really have a favorite wine region, but my preference does go out to European wines

What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?

Something he should definitely have is ‘un sens du contact’, basically understand the customer and being able to communicate to him in words he understands. A sommelier has to offer a moment of joy to the customer not by just giving him his choice, but rather understanding the customer’s urge.

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

The sommelier has finally found his rightful place with recognition he deserves. It is also true that by opening up sommelier contests to the public (to attend the finals, for example) it has given the opportunity to lots of people to better understand the job and all its aspects both technical as theoretical.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

I discovered wine during my year in hotel management school thanks to my oenology professor Gérard Devos. He really pushed me this way by communicating or passing on his passion with enthusiasm. After that my career also gave me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people that transmitted their passion for wine to me (Eric Boschman, Daniel Marcil, Philippe Stuyck, Giulinao Gianotti, etc…..)

Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?

Eric Boschman because he was one of the first sommeliers who had a different view over wine and world wines . Today he is still very active and remains an great ambassador for/in the sommelier world. Furthermore, he has always shown the many dimensions of a sommelier’s profession that does not only come down to the wine knowledge, but also knowledge about other products a sommelier could propose and serve.

What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?

Obviously the match of wine and food is important, but the most important is one to suit everyone. I’m specifically looking for the perfect match, but rather the match that fits at that particular time or spot… I love the idea of a good wine with a couple of good friends and a dish with out to much chichi.

Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why? Le Valais. I fell in love with this region for at one side the diversity of its wines, for the ones producing it, but also for the contrasts of the seasons and the beauty of the landscapes. Exploring its wines it a long journey, but you will make lots of great discoveries.

For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste? If we talk about financial sacrifices, I never will never do it. I do not like the idea of paying for an expensive bottle of any kind. On the other hand sacrificing a day of work to go enjoy an old Rivesaltes accompanied by smoking a cigar, I do not say no! :-) :-)

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?

My best memory of the hotel school was when I won the title of ‘Best sommelier of Belgium”. I remember that I thought I wound stand a chance against the well reputed schools like the ones from Namur, Brugge, Koksijde and in the end it was for me after all

A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?

No wine, no meal without natural mineral water of high quality ;-)

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