Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Hiroshi Ishida
The next sommelier I would like to introduce to you has won the title of Best sommelier of Japan not 1, but 3 times (1996, 1998 & 2014). In addition to that he won the competition of Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania in 2015 and became 3rd during the ASI world Championships in 2000!! To only name a few of his many achievements . I was even told that for the last month before the World Championships in 2000 he lived separated from his wife and kids to be able to fully concentrate on the championship… please meet the one and only Hiroshi Ishida
His achievements didn’t pass unremarked or better they went along with many recognitions by the government of Japan, like receiving the “Tokyo Master” in 2010, the “Contemporary Master Craftsman”, Labour and Welfare in 2011 and the “Medal of Honour, Yellow Ribbon” in 2014. I don’t think there a many countries that would give recognitions like this… many of them could learn a thing or two from Japan
Hiroshi has, as you could read before, had a very nice career when it comes to competitions. But also next to his ‘competitive career’ he had a remarkable working career. To name a few highlights: he has worked at Hotel Nikko Tokyo, as dining manager and eventually general manager at the restaurant Beige by Alain Ducasse, Chief sommelier at the Keisuke Matsushima Tokyo and has also been chief sommelier at Restaurant-I.
Today Hiroshi works a sommelier for the renowned Tokyo restaurant L'aube (that is considered as one of the best culinary experiences in Tokyo) that he combines with writing for wine related magazines, being wine consultant, judge during many national and international wine and sommelier related competitions, being vice-president of the Japanese Sommelier Association. He basically keeps himself busy :-)
What is your favorite wine region to work with? Honestly, I'm happy to work with every wine country. I often work with Hunter, Yarra, Mornington Peninsula, Barossa, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale; Hawke's Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough, Central Otago; Swartland, Elgin, Stellenbosch; Oregon, Washington, California; Mendoza; Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua, Colchagua; Baden, Pfaltz; Niederöestreich, Burgemland; Galicia, Rioja, Priorat; Vinho Verde, Douro, Alentejo; Santorini...etc so basically everything What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you? Meeting the right person to teach you everything there is to know Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued? Valued. But misunderstood. A sommelier is not a star of the wine business. He is the person who makes business in a nobel way. When and how did you get the passion for wine? Every time I met real professionals my passion became bigger. Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world? Gérard Margeon who is Chef Sommelier of Group Alain Ducasse
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes? Understanding what a chef wants to express in the dish. Understanding the root of the dish. Approaching the pairing from several angles. Tasting the dish and wine. Discussing with the chef for the fine tuning. Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why? Depends on what the person wants. Burgundy for understanding terroir. Bordeaux for excellency of wine history. Australia for diversity. For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste? For no wine. What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school? Encounter with a teacher who taught me wine. A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop,etc…? Wine is a fascinating drink you can enjoy anytime, anyplace, with anyone, and with anything. But a restaurant is the best place in terms of precision and quality.