This time I'm taking you to Poland to meet top sommelier Piotr Kamecki
Although Poland remains a relatively small wine market, it is growing a lot every year thanks to people like Piotr. As president of the Polish Sommelier association he wants to give young Polish sommeliers a chance participate and commune with sommeliers on a high international level. Give them a chance to meet , make friends , exchange ideas and initiate contacts that can lead to an interesting exchange of experiences. His behind-the-scenes influence is unmatched in Poland.
But before being behind the scenes, he was on the scene himself when he became best Sommelier of Poland in 1998. Not bad for a boy who had went to car mechanic school :-) Piotr told me that he had always been fascinated by gastronomy that also why he was so glad to be able to follow some ‘waiter courses’ like he calls them. He mostly worked in Polish top restaurants as sommelier and eventually head-sommelier and dining room manager during his career, but with many internships at restaurants like at Michelin awarded restaurant Schwarzer Adler in Germany in between. The longest part of his career as sommelier was at the legendary luxury Bristol Hotel in Warsaw
In 1999 Piotr found the time was right to make a move to the wine business by joining ‘Centrum Wina’ company as Marketing Director and later President of Management Board. In 2013 Piotr I started his own refined wine business Wine Taste by Kamecki and became Partner in Winkolekcja, wine business dedicated exclusively to HoReCa customers. Piotr also represents glass manufacturer Riedel and some prestigious wineries like Gaja, Musar, Bollinger, Pingus and Vega Sicilia in Poland.
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
Bordeaux - Full stop :-)
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Have the humility, to be able to listen, to practice with best possible sommeliers , constantly broaden knowledge and love people!
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Depend of the country, but generally yes it’s undervalued
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
When I was 18, escaping car mechanic school for waiter courses :-) My real first touch and serious passion for wine I got in Hotel Bristol in Warsaw in 1992 where I had a great management team that helped me to learn a lot about wine and that was the beginning of my story in world of sommellerie.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
In the wine world it was Etienne Hugel, - he unfortunatley died this year- great winemaker, perfect salesman and always happy, smiling friend. In the sommelier world definitely Enrico Bernardo- I was struck seeing him from the back stage winning the 2004 contest of Best Sommelier of the World in Athens, great, broad-minded sommelier and successful restaurateur.
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?
I try to follow customers, what is more important for them- food, wine or both. Wines and other beverages have to create kind of bridge to fully enjoy the quality of the dish, to highlight the composition and avoid clash with difficult ingredients.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Bordeaux- there is no other region producing so much great wines in big quantities in different categories: dry white, red and sweet. Bordeaux is also opening for a wider audience to not only gt attention from wine professionals but also from wine lovers. This region also has a lot to offer besides their wonderful wines, like golf, restaurants, water sports and cultural aspects.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
I am always intriguing to taste old vintages in perfect shapes, especially aged Rieslings from the Mosel, like Egon Muller masterpieces from my vintage :-) 1970
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
I always liked the service part, carrying my first tray with the plate of soup- to walk and look perfectly and bringing at least half of the liquid to the table- wonderful feeling!
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop,etc…?
All sommeliers of the world should have two weeks cross training in the kitchen to better understand both sides, especially that chefs will never go to the restaurant floor :-)