Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Kamil Wojtasiak
Time to put yet another top sommelier in the spotlight. The reason we’ve already so many sommeliers in the spotlight, is because we are of the opinion that sommelier are an as important part of the gastronomical experience as chefs. The next sommelier we like to present to you is the 2018 Best Sommelier of Poland Kamil Wojtasiak.
Although Kamil has won the Best Sommelier of Poland contest in 2018, it was in 2013 that he was the youngest vice-champion of the Best Sommelier of Poland contest which gave him the opportunity to participate to a contest in Lithuania that he also managed to win :-) . His next victory would be in 2017 winning the Best Young Sommelier of Poland contest. Kamil will also be defending the Polish pride during the 2020 Best Sommelier of Europe contest!!
After his studies Kamil started his professional career at fine dining restaurant Le Regina in Warsaw. It was also during this period that he was able to develop himself as sommelier and expand his knowledge on wines (and everything else there is to know about being a sommelier). The next stop for him was at the Bib Gourmand restaurant Butchery & wine.
Today Kamil combines the job as wine director at Butchery & wine with a job as general manager of restaurant Koneser Grill in Warsaw. Kamil also obtained his ASI diploma in 2017.
Please join me in getting to know this sommelier a bit better.
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
To be a great sommelier, you have to appreciate all kinds of wine, but my favorite wines to work with come from Piedmont. The level of complexity is just unparalleled.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
An almost impossible combination of varied and sometimes opposing skills. Passion, empathy and humility are the most important. However, to be great you, of course, need knowledge, too, as well as organizational skills and fundamental understanding of economy. I believe that every sommelier should spend thousands of hours on the floor to learn to understand the needs of guests.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
I think it depends on where you are. In some markets it is undervalued and underdeveloped. In others the sommeliers are approaching the level of rock star chefs.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I became interested in wine, to a small extent, at a gastronomy school when I was 16 years old. I didn't have the opportunity to try anything until I was of legal age. The first wine I tried and felt something special was New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It had an internship at a hotel and I tried to learn more and more every day.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
Piotr Pietras MS – I've known him since he became interested in wine. The path he has taken to become one of the best sommeliers is impressive. His theoretical knowledge and tasting are at the highest level.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
I believe that the best possible way is to try a couple of possible pairings with a dish, then choose the best match and try to understand why it creates a good pairing. I love to play with natural, orange wines. The combination of natural wines with food creates new, creative flavors.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
My top pick is Douro Valley. I was there twice and I have never seen more beautiful place. River cruise along Douro with a glass of port in my hand will always remain in my memories.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
To be honest I have tasted almost all the wines considered "the best in the world". However, if I had to choose one, it would definitely be Romanée-Conti Grand Cru from my vintage – 1990.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
The moment when I won the Polish championship. A year and a half earlier I promised my first son that I would win the Polish championship for him. After announcing the result, I was the happiest man in the whole room. After the emotions settled in, I immediately went home. I saw then how much stress the determination and focus cost. I didn't even have the energy to celebrate.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Tasting wine with a winemaker in his/her vineyards. It gives you the best perspective and makes you understand the philosophy and path the winery follows.
I still remember the tasting at the Ministry of Clouds in McLaren Vale. That was impeccable.