THE LIFE OF A YOUNG SOMMELIER.

Il Mestiere del Gusto – our monthly appointment to explore the work, the visions and the passion of some young persons from the Italian fine dining business – this month presents an interview with the sommelier Fabrizio Franzoi, a young and passionate wine professional.

Our Marta met him in Verona for breakfast: because both of them share a huge passion for fine food and wines!

It’s the second time that Fabrizio and I meet: we got to know each other last April at Ristorante Perbellini in Isola Rizza, where he used to work as maitre and sommelier. Today we are having breakfast together in Verona at the famous pastry shop Flego in Stella street – yes, Fabrizio and I share the same passion for excellent food…and wine of course!

Born in the area of Vicenza in 1982 now working in the province of Verona, Fabrizio always strikes me with his aplomb: I really envy the elegant sobriety of his aspect and manners; his shyness, however, disappears as soon as we get to talk about the professional sommellerie, which he deeply loves.

While accurately observing the red fruit mousse he’s just got, Fabrizio starts to tell me about his job; he doesn’t need any question, he is now just letting words come out and I can barely write all the necessary notes.

“People are genuine when eating; our job gives us the privilege of encountering people in their essence and to offer them real emotions. This is why being a sommelier is the best job one can strive for”. How can a sommelier create authentic “wine” emotions? Firstly with an empathetic sensibility for the needs of the clients, that a professional sommelier must understand and interpret in the shortest time possible. Of course, knowledge and professionalism are essential in order not to disappoint the guests but expertise has to be mitigated by humility:” We need to be curious and we shouldn’t miss any opportunity to learn from colleagues or from customers too! It’s time to defuse the idea of sommeliers being formal and the belief that enjoying wine while having dinner is just for  experts “ Fabrizio declares – “During my working experience at Perbellini I decided, for example, to serve half glasses and beers so that everybody could feel free to enjoy not only food but also excellent drinks”.

As the second pastry comes I finally manage to ask my first question: I want to know more about the “behind the scenes” of being a sommelier so I ask Fabrizio to describe me his working routine. “I get to the restaurant at 10 a.m. and have coffee”; “not bad!” I think; “I have coffee to check if the machine is clean and the coffee powder is perfect; then I check the stocks, the reservations, the planning of the day and meet the vendors. Before lunch or dinner I check the mise en place, the clothing of the staff and I give all te instructions for the service; this is a very important moment to me because this is when the staff becomes a team, broadens its skills and shares a working philosophy. Last but not least a personal priority in my daily routine is that of finding time to study and to plan”. A hard job!

I benefit from a short moment of silence and ask further:”How will the job of sommeliers change within the next ten years?”. Fabrizio has no hesitation and answers my question with all the expertise he has, having worked in the field for more than 15 years:”The sommeliers of the future will need to have an international approach; they need to know what happens in the food and wine industry worldwide and be ready to face the challenges of a restaurant industry that will get more and more contaminated from foreign cooking traditions. It is thus clear that a sommelier vocational training is as necessary as the perfect fluency at least in English, as well as the willingness to interact with colleagues from all over the world. I’m quite confident that in the next few years our job will develop into that of the food and beverage manager, having however this role consistent consultancy and training aspects. It will be a challenging but stimulating evolution!”

I definitely agree with him; having that said, I’m sure that food and wine will always be amazing emotion catalysts for both consumers and field professionals; this is why I love to think that future sommeliers will take on the challenge with passion and commitment.