Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Gabriel Kollár
For the next sommelier interview we are taking you to Bratislava Slovak Republic, please meet Gabriel Kollár
Gabriel followed his classical formation at the Hospitality Management Institute in Prague, where after he started to work as sommelier for a few local restaurants and wine trading companies. But Gabriel wanted something bigger, so he set sail towards London where he was offered a position as sommelier at one of THE most iconic restaurants in London the Savoy Grill. Followed by position as head sommelier at top level London restaurants like Corrigan’s Mayfair and Heddon street kitchen.
Seeing his professional career, it will not surprise when I tell you that Gabriel didn't win the national (Slovakia) Best Sommelier title 1 time, but 2 times (2010 & 2019)!! In between his work and the competitions he also found the time to certify him as sommelier at the Court of Master sommeliers and obtain the advanced WSET Level 3 certificate. So you can definitely say he is a busy bee . Gabriel will also be defending Slovakia's honor at the 2020 ASI Best Sommelier of Europe contest.
Today after many years in the UK, Gabriel returned to his routes in Slovakia where he works as sommelier at The Taste wine & food restaurant in Bratislava.
Please join me in getting to know this inspiring sommelier a bit better.
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
I have many favorite wine regions that I like, but if I have to choose only one, it would be Champagne, because my wife loves it :-)
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
You need to have passion and love for wine. Everything else will come along.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
It’s getting attention in public, but there is still a lot of work to do.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I was actually a day in high school, initially I always dreamed about a future as a bartender, but then suddenly I started realizing that might not be the future for me. Mostly because I started to get in contact with wine more… and one thing led to the other
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
In Slovakia my mentor Peter Kecskés. In the world, Gerard Basset, Jancis
Robinson, Steven Spurier and Tom Stevenson.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
There is no easy answer for wine pairing. I respect seasonality, fresh and local ingredients and customer preferences. On top of that it is also something that evolves, the more experience you get, the more wines you try, the more different and maybe sometimes more ‘special’ pairings you will be making.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Wachau and Burgenland in Austria, Piedmont in Italy and Tokay in both Slovakia and Hungary.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
Liber Pater in Bordeaux or Romanée-Conti in Burgundy.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
The most wonderful memory was during my WSET training in Austria, when we visited Wachau and learned about viticulture directly in vineyards.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
I would recommend Strekov wine and food festival in South Slovakia for an amazing wine experience. The festival takes place every year around mid-July.