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June 19, 2014 Comments (0) Views: 8647 Young Blood Sommeliers

Young Blood Sommelier: Jonathan MacCalder

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Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder walks the floor at E11even, Toronto.

In the first of a sixth (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario and occasionally elsewhere.

A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers.

Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars.

This time around we sit down with Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder of E11even restaurant, part of the Maple Leaf Sports And Entertainment group. Jonathan really went out of his way for this and gave us our most expansive set of answers yet…

Good Food Revolution: So Jonathan, what is it that you are doing these days?

Jonathan MacCalder : Right now is a time of the year where things finally slow down a bit for us, so I get to do all the things I don’t have time for.. like cleaning out all the rotting food in my fridge, sleeping, sitting in the sun.. the really important things in life. As well as financial & menu planning for next year.

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before this position?

JM: My first gig in the industry was a busboy position at restaurant e18hteen in Ottawa whose GM taught courses for the Sommelier program that had just graduated Stephen Beckta. Everyone was very wine focused and it was an eye opening experience – I spent 3 years there and worked my way up to server. From there, I talked my way into landing a job in Bermuda taking over a prominent restaurant wine program that catered to local business people and tourists.

After 2 years of running the wine program for their 4 restaurants I was Operations Manager for a small wine importing business bringing in some of the best names from Europe. There were some complications with my Visa, so I went to Australia and found work in some great restaurants. I worked at Quay, which at the time broke into the San Pellegrino Top 50 in the world and was consistently the best restaurant in Australasia. They were stocked with some of the best young somms in Australia and it was a competitive but fun place. I moved from there to work with Kim Bickley at Glass Brasserie in the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, where she had a 900+ bottle, multi-award winning list.

I’ve been blessed to pick up so much of my knowledge in different countries with different cultures.

Jonathan MacCalder

Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder takes his time off very seriously.

GFR: And how would you explain the wine program at E11even?

JM: The wine program balances the line between eclectic and familiar names in order to cater to vastly different groups. I have been cultivating a list that is exciting while still having approachability. This summer I am pushing an affordable wine list for people to have a cool spot on a great patio to explore and drink good wines. Also expect a pretty good large format list because bigger is sometimes more fun!

I have been trying to put together an affordable Bordeaux list for people to explore also. I was lucky to learn and taste through the vintages of 95 – 05 before prices skyrocketed and I think there is a void in learning about Bordeaux in Toronto because of how high the prices are now. So come by and slip into some Bordeaux!

GFR: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has an admirable team of talented Sommeliers working under its umbrella. How is it working for such a large organisation?

JM: Working for a large company takes some getting used to, but it has been a positive experience. It is an organization full of really great, passionate people who care about everything from the quality of the stadium food to the quality of the ice. I have access to so many people in a very unique company that it keeps every day exciting.

Working with a sommelier team as large and experienced as we have between all the restaurants is great for learning and relying on them during service. Going from Bermuda where I opened every bottle of wine in the restaurant on my own to Australia where I was working with 4 or 5 other somms made me appreciate the benefits of working within a team.

GFR: And how much autonomy do you have in your position?

JM:  I have full autonomy in my position, I work closely with Head Sommelier Anne Martin who oversees all 6 restaurants. At e11even, I am responsible for the wine, the spirits, the cocktail menu and the beer – it is a full beverage program management position. I oversee 2 young sommeliers and we work together and I try to help them understand all of the admin & financial portions that we take care of in a larger company that I didn’t in smaller companies.

I also think it’s important to track trends and stay on top of what’s happening in the cocktail & spirits worlds. Without sounding like a robot, we focus on finding the right products to fit the space because at the end of the day that’s what we are here for – to best serve our guests. Once we build that trust by finding out what the guest normally drinks, then we can get them to take a chance and try something new with us.

GFR: How many wine agents/merchants do you deal with?

JM: Overall, I think we deal with around 15-20 suppliers. When I worked with Kim Bickley in Sydney, she had a great list with close to 60 suppliers, which can be a challenge for our admin person to settle the books at the end of the month. Nobody likes getting harassing emails from a stressed out admin person! I also try not to cherry pick from suppliers if they only have one or two things I like from their list as it’s not very fair to the agent either.

GFR: What makes a good agent in your mind?

JM: A good agent makes me lunch, helps me with Valentine’s Day shopping, folds my laundry and is always on time for our meetings – not early and not late. But we can’t all be Serge Janjic or Nicholas Pearce.

Seriously though, we are all different and for me, personally, a good agent lets me know when they are running low on items I use often, lets me know when it is back in stock, understands how my business works and works on the relationship rather than the quick sale.

GFR: And a bad one?

JM: What do you think… I mean what were some of your big hates when you were at JK Wine Bar?

GFR: Hmmm… Agents using my name to order a shedload of private order stuff that I had never ordered, and then doing a name change and selling in piecemeal.

Agents knowing when I was away on holiday and delivering wines that I had never ordered and thinking that they could get away with it.

Agents getting all bitchy because I wasn’t listing their wines that were in EVERY SINGLE F****** RESTAURANT in the city.

Agents who kicked up a fuss when I asked them to take back corked bottles, and would even have their poor rep some in and sniff them to check I wasn’t trying to fleece them.

JM:  So you don’t really have any bad experiences to reference then… haha. I feel like a lot of the guys you worked with there have gone on to work for small importing agencies of their own. Do you think that steps up the competition in a healthy way?

GFR: I always loved dealing with as many agencies as possible so as I could bring in all manner of odd little things that some tiny Mom and Pop importers were bringing in.

It makes me sick to my stomach when I hear of some lists using a pay-to-play system with the agents, meaning that they are only using five or so importers, and they tend to be the big ones too. Lists like that speak volumes about the Sommelier, as you are just not doing justice to your customers. It’s plain lazy (and greedy) actually.

Jonathan MacCalder

Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder walks the floor at E11even, Toronto.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age?

JM: As an amusing side note, my mother’s uncle was Head of the Nova Scotia Temperance Society… so her side of the family were very dry. Literally. My earliest memory was having some boxed wine at one of my parents’ dinner parties when I was around 6 but it was quite tart and bitter. My parents are both East Coasters so my dad was more into Rum and Beer than wine. Even through University I skipped the wine portion of “being sophisticated” and it really wasn’t until I started in restaurants before I was exposed to wine in any significant way.

GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?

JM: My first taste of wine mentioned above wasn’t any memory worth hanging onto. Boxed Canadian hybrid wine from the 80’s – just what every aspiring child prodigy sommelier dreams of! I don’t think it equates to children in France having their grandfather’s old vine bottlings – but maybe my children will get introduced in a different way.

GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

JM:  When they learn to brush their teeth without being asked! Or when they are afraid of the dark/see monsters in their closets… A watered down glass of wine should help them sleep through the night! My kids will probably have the option in their teens to have a bit of wine with dinner.

GFR: When did you first decide that you would like a career in wine?

JM: The world of wine has been very good to me but when I first realized how much bigger wine was than serving it in restaurants was after a trip to Argentina in the mid-2000s. I was visiting as wine sales were giving hope to a recently bankrupted economy and seeing the positive impact it had on everyone associated with the wineries. There were a lot of jobs that I didn’t know existed and upon returning I decided I wanted to visit as many wine regions in the world as possible. I would say that opened my eyes to the possibility of a “career” in wine… but you know most people think getting to drink wine as part of their job for the rest of their lives is more like a dream than work.

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

JM: Well, I came from pretty humble beginnings having no family influence with wine, so I would say I had many stages of insights along my path. The first time I really enjoyed and savoured a bottle of wine was an eye opener, my first boss who forced all the staff to delve into wine in order to keep their jobs, the first French winemaker who made everything seem awesome, working with my first sommelier team of hot shots… there were a lot of turning points. Of course, that aha moment of Burgundy which everyone who loves Burgundy has was a big insight also. It all depends on how you view the question, I suppose.

GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious twats… do you think that is slowly changing?

JM: Definitely, I do think that is changing. I think there are so many people who are falling in love with the idea that is breaking down the barriers of wine and removing that intimidation. My whole tableside approach is to remove that arrogance from the exchange and relate to people on an honest level. We are definitely in a sales role but I think it is also a relationship sale more than anything. Building trust in the exchange is such a key component to what we do and whether that is making sure a business host can impress his client or you can help an awkward first date go smoothly.

The important aspect is to try to understand what the guest really wants, what they are looking for. A lot of the time they don’t know or are not sure how to articulate it in relatable terms and it is our role to dig deeper by asking questions and helping them make informed choices. If you build that trust factor then you can help lead them out of their comfort zone and navigate the massive and overwhelming options available now.

GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

JM: I have been very fortunate and I took a 2-year sojourn to the other side of the world in working in Australia. I saved quite a bit of money and traveled through most of Australia & New Zealand’s wine regions sleeping in my rental car. On my journey back I hit up a winery in Myanmar, Mosel & Burgundy. I am visiting Argentina this summer and would be really interested in Chile, as well as Old European production regions! There are still so many to check off my list – it’s very exciting!

GFR: Have you ever thought about making your own wine?

JM: A really cool opportunity was in Central Otago, I was invited to sit in on a blend blind tasting rating the blend of blocks of vineyards. That is as close to thinking about winemaking as I have come. With sommelier friends getting involved it piques an interest but for now it’s something I would like to be apart of out of curiosity and understanding the process better more than something that drives me as a sole responsibility. Although, I did help my Dad make that home-brew out-of-a-package wine as a teenager… but I don’t think that counts, does it?

GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

JM: I mean who wouldn’t like to make wine in Burgundy or be one of those flying winemaker consultants where I get to be apart of and experience different terroirs and cultures.

Jonathan MacCalder

Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder takes his time off very seriously.

GFR: Do you know any Sommelier/Wine jokes? I only know the one with the punchline “They had to let him go as he was walking around with a Semillon”

JM: hmmm.. the closest bad wine joke I make is the odd time when a table is discussing screwtop losures vs corks… “Your wine won’t be corked but it may be screwed!” but it’s pretty cheesy so I don’t use that one…

GFR: Oooof!

Is your role purely that of Sommelier or do you have managerial duties also?

JM: I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work as a pure sommelier for the early part of my career. Having come back to Canada, I never take it for granted how lucky I was to have that opportunity in forming me and growing in the wine industry. I wish that Toronto had greater opportunities for pure sommelier shifts in restaurants to start out and mentor under experienced sommeliers.

Now I have taken on other portions of management and am very involved in the running of the business and developing the leadership team.  It’s think it’s an important next step for sommeliers to run the entire beverage program of cocktails and beers in order to keep the position relevant in Ontario. If you can make the entire beverage business work and are able to blend your spirit & beer costs in it will help your wine costs.

GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?

JM: I like both and they both have challenges and rewards. I am glad I had the opportunity to focus on learning about wine and managing “bottles” before managing people. As a sommelier working in tandem with servers you need a level of knowledge, which brings confidence that you are bringing value to the team. I worked in places where I opened every single bottle in a 70-seat, thirsty restaurant and some servers would still tell me I wasn’t doing anything. That can be tough and very discouraging for some people when starting out.

Veteran servers are going to test you and push your buttons and they don’t always help out the younger servers to be more valuable to the team. It’s also an industry that allows a certain sense of entitlement to creep into even the best people, so you have to manage those expectations. It’s very rewarding to see that ‘light-switch’ moment when someone “gets” what you’ve been showing them and see how much more successful they are.

If you can foster a team environment where there is strong leadership it makes all the difference – I was lucky to witness those situations in a few of the restaurants I have worked in. At this point in my career, I really enjoy seeing our management and staff who are receptive to growing and pushing them out of their comfort zone.

Jonathan MacCalder

Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder walks the floor at E11even, Toronto.

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

JM: Some of my career highs have been being able to travel and make a good living doing something that I am passionate about. Working with a team that was focused on being the top of their game was thrilling and inspiring.

Career lows might have been graduating during a deep recession and not being able to get a job working for free in Toronto ad agencies. But that was what led me into restaurants… sometimes the world works in mysterious ways.

GFR: Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?

JM:  I’m not sure I know the city well enough to comment. I did have the luxury of working with Jennifer Huether as she was training for her final & successful attempt for her Master Sommelier certification. This gave me access to a lot of other Senior Sommeliers training for their Masters and to see the level of work they were putting into their studies. She also took over a wine list which centered around Yellow Tail and was able to build the largest Sommelier team in Canada with strong wine lists.

It is a very experienced group of sommeliers that work for the company restaurants. Bruce Wallner has his study groups which is a great advantage for people to get together and practice for the Court’s exams. Anne Martin has always been very helpful and open about opportunities and trying to help carve a space for people to work in the sommelier world.

Internationally, I think Gerard Basset and Rajat Parr have been excellent with blazing their own paths and being very successful.

GFR: Do you ever have nightmares about working as a Sommelier? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar…

JM: My nightmares involve very real moments, usually on a day off, where someone opens a bottle of Sauternes to pour by the glass – which obviously, HAD to be Chateau d’Yquem or using expensive decanters for brunch juices and not washing it out so there is a nasty smell, etc. As far as service goes, my only ‘workmares’ were working as a server and waking up in the middle of the night realizing I forgot to send out a special anniversary dessert or spilled wine across the table or something like that. Blech – that’s giving me the shivers right now.

GFR: Sommeliers famously have Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?… or do you actually have Mondays off?

JM: I spent my first year conducting about 10 hours of inventory every Sunday, which I was usually very hungover for – brutal! I like to mix it up but maybe go for an early morning run around Harrington Sound in Bermuda, catch a sunny afternoon Jays game at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, lunch in Provence drinking Bandol Rose, rolling into a Pearl Jam concert later that night in the Coliseum in Rome.. but that was last week’s day off, so maybe I’ll just watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and eat a bowl of white cheddar KD this week. You know, I keep seeing Macaroni dishes pop up everywhere on menus but none with hot dogs in the mac ‘n’ cheese. That was a staple Dad dinner when I was growing up – even my friend’s parents made it.

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink in Toronto.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our lovely city?

JM: Trusted favourites are Harbord Room or THR & Co, Campagnolo, Black Hoof and there are so many new spots worth checking out.  We are quite blessed with a huge mix of places to grab food and drinks casually popping up. Some spots in the recent past that have been impressive are Fanny Chadwick’s for brunch, Odd Seoul, Insomnia has stepped up their cocktails and late night snacks, Northwood is a hidden gem, and still so many spots to check out and revisit…

GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

JM: I really like cooking and lately have been skipping going out versus staying in. I have been working with octopus and squid and am pretty good with a ceviche now. I made rabbit recently and think that will take some working on. With summer almost finally here – it’s grilling season!

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters?

JM: Probably cooking a turkey for the family on Boxing Day and having been up late the night before, I wasn’t paying attention to the size of the Turkey. It was a 15 pounder! I realized at like 4 pm and obviously nobody was happy about eating at 11 pm. Morale of the story – roasting big holiday meals involves planning out a day or two in advance.

Jonathan MacCalder

Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder walks the floor at E11even, Toronto.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Have you had the opportunity to try any real standouts recently actually?

JM: Being out of the country for so long, I definitely tracked the successes and was great to see some Canadian wines getting press. It started with Wine Spectator talking quite a bit about BC wines and then Le Clos Jordanne put Ontario wines into the Decanter magazine, which I printed off for all my Australian somm friends. They looked at me as though I told them that Antarctica was making wines now.

I think we are seeing a much higher quality wines across the spectrum and real competition, there are very good wines for people to get behind and support. We’re seeing wineries have 2 – 3 tiers of pricing which is important for developing local wine culture allowing for people to climb the quality level or to give Ontario wine a chance. At e11even, we have recently quadrupled the offerings from Canada – Quebec & Nova Scotia included. We have expanded the scope of Ontario offerings because I think there are a lot of people who want to try local but need some guidance in finding the right wines for them.

GFR: At E11even do you still see customers dismissing Canadian wines in favour of lesser wines from elsewhere?

JM: We definitely have guests wary of Canadian wines but it depends on what you consider “lesser” wines.

GFR: Do you feel that there is there a good Sommelier community in Toronto?

JM: I think there is a good-sized community here but it’s very fractured. I think working in Toronto with the work demands and finding a time where people can get together is very hard, especially with young parents.

GFR: How do you feel about Toronto as a wine city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine on?

JM: I think we are on the upswing but we could use more places with well-priced wines to drink and explore. There are the Terronis & Mercattos but we could use some non-Italian spots. Black Hoof has hidden gems and Archive is offering cool back vintages, Ascari Enoteca has fun & geeky wines for exploration.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not a Sommelier?

JM: I love Photography. I would love to devote more time to Photography but haven’t converted to using DSLRs. I’m a visual person and am drawn by captivating imagery and capturing the energy or essence of a moment. I take great party photos! There’s this great image of a young boy walking across the street in the 50s with two unlabelled magnums by Henri Cartier Bresson that stands out when I think of wine.

GFR: What does your Mother wish you were doing?… I know that mine probably wishes I were a Doctor…

JM: My mother is great. I don’t know what she thought I would end up doing but I’m sure it wasn’t working with wine. I’ll have to ask her.

GFR: I know that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

JM: Most of them think it’s pretty cool. Even guests think it’s the coolest thing in the world. It’s all relative I suppose, as I think a lot of my friends that I grew up with have interesting and cool jobs. Ottawa people are characters! I definitely get texts for recommendations for when people need to give a present or need to pick up some wines.

Jonathan MacCalder

Sommelier Jonathan MacCalder takes his time off very seriously.

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting?

JM: Blind tasting is good for stripping preconceived notions of a label or what a wine should taste like due to it’s quality level. I use it to get people into Ontario wines because if I told them where it was from – they’d already have a prejudice against it. I am very clear in that I have no problem in bringing them something else if they don’t like it.

As for clinical blind tasting – I found it an important skill to learn in the somm world. It’s great to learn where that path leads and there will come a point where the road forks for people on their journey through wine.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

JM: Did say that you are a better taster with a bad hangover? That seems very strange.

GFR: Yes, but I am an absolutely AWFUL blind taster without a hangover.

What’s your current favourite wine region?

JM: Recently I have found Pinot Noir from Casablanca, Chile and Xinomavro from Naoussa, Greece as two areas I want to learn more about. The Casablanca Pinot is bursting with vibrant strawberries and at a good price. Xinomavro is a grape we don’t see often but there are a few that pop through Vintages and I have been impressed with it’s Barolo-like qualities.

 

GFR: What is “hot” in the world of wine right now at E11even?

JM: That’s a tough question. I would say we have such a varying crew come through our doors – I would say Napa & Tuscany always do well at e11even. After those two regions, we are developing a strong trust level with guests allowing us to help them step into a new-to-them area… whether that be Australia, Spain or Niagara.

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour at E11even?

JM: French wines seem to have a stigma against them if you are a Napa or Italian drinker.  I have built up our selection of affordable Bordeaux to allow people interested in learning about the different sub-regions or very good vintages such as 03, 05, 09, 10, etc. Those seem to be sparking some interest but you don’t see much Bordeaux being drunk among people under 45, these days.

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

JM: Wine scores and people’s reliance on the highest score being the best wines. I have noticed I often don’t enjoy the wines with the best scores. I prefer an insightful review or description than looking at its score.

GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now? A dish on the current E11even menu?

JM: We have a double cut bacon that is braised for hours, then grilled to get a nice char and brushed with maple sherry glaze. I like to pair that with our Mr. Manhattan which involves Bulleit Bourbon, Dolin Sweet Vermouth and Averna.

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… if these people walked into your restaurant and looked thirsty what would you give them wine-wise… and why?

Don Cherry

1: Don Cherry (Flamboyantly dressed loudmouth)

JM: An old-school, high-octane, ripe Amarone

 

Robert Parker Jr

2. Robert Parker Jr. (Loudmouth wine critic)

JM: Lokoya Mt. Veeder Cab which scored 100 RP points or mess him up with a Pearl Morrisette Cab Franc

Ray Parker Jr

3. Ray Parker Jr. (Of Ghostbusters fame)

JM: Mosel Riesling because of the theme song being so catchy and pleasing

And now your turn Jamie, what 3 wines would you pair for the following Canadian athletes:

1. Wayne Gretzky

2. Steve Nash

3. Eugenie Bouchard

GFR: Ahhhhh, you have heard about my love of sports then?*

Do you often drink beers or spirits?

JM: I do. I really got into classic cocktails in Melbourne and Toronto is on the world stage for a great cocktail culture – we are seeing a wider array of spirits now also. I got into hoppy beers a few years back and it’s exciting to see all the local small-batch distillers and micro-brews evolving in Canada.

GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as Sommelier? For me it was doing inventory…

JM:  I remember counting for 2 years in one job and never getting any feedback from the owner. That makes a very long process of counting labels seem so much longer and monotonous. If you are learning things and problem solving, it feels like you are working towards achieving a goal.

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

JM: I like ones with a long, non-serrated blade because it cuts the foil cleanly without tugging it into a mess. The life-saver for me was a gift called the Ah-So opener from Germany. It has been a gift from God with delicate corks!

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? I still don’t get why we even have this conversation, but how do your customers feel?

JM: I think most guests would freak out if they see them on California, French or Italian reds, but are open to other wines having either. Australia & New Zealand seem to have done a great job promoting premium bottles under Stelvin. I would be very interested to see the same wines, stored next to each other and taste them comparatively as they age.

GFR: Sommeliers often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze. What is your limit?

JM: Sometimes its more about whether you abide by those limits or not.

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time?

JM: …

GFR: When do you choose to spit or swallow?

JM: You’ll have to read my interview in Hustler to find that out.

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

JM: I cruise the vintage releases that are interesting in the $16 – $25 mark. Some of the gems that are widely available and at a great price – Hungarian sparkling, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir, & Rioja. They offer exceptional value and when you’ve moved on from tasting to drinking – they come in handy!

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

JM: I picked up a few bottles at auction of ‘1990 Comte Armand Clos des Epeneaux’ which I had in 2012. It had such structure, grip and guts with beautiful purity and earthy, structured tannins. It still has another decade or two and such vivacity that was so surprising. It blew my mind that a 22 year old Burgundy would be so massive, I’ll always remember that when thinking about Burgundy’s ageability.

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy night at the restaurant

JM: I can never make up my mind what I’m in the mood for after a really rockin shift – it’s like deciding what you want to eat when you’re super hungry. I’d much rather you chose for me. Probably a negroni and a glass of white to start.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Jonathan… If you were a grape varietal what would you be? And why?

JM: Marsanne – I can be weird, nutty, serious and fun, I’m good on my own and work well in certain blends.

GFR: Super answers Jonathan, thank you for taking the time to do this admittedly lengthy interview!

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city.

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton is currently working on his exciting new project Gwailo with Chef Nick Liu.

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