In the fifth of the twenty-second series (can you believe that?!), we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario and beyond.
A few years back Many years ago 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 and often underexposed stars.
This month we sit down for a glass with Don Alfonso sommelier, Justin Madol, for another extended interview…
Good Food Revolution: So Justin, what is it that you are doing these days?
Justin Madol: So I currently work at Don Alfonso 1890 as a sommelier and doing some consulting for Lee Restaurant as well. I’m also pursuing my Master Sommelier diploma and am about to have my first child. So a lot going on!
GFR: Now Don Alfonso has moved around a little since its first incarnation in 2018 on Toronto street. I believe you had around a year down there before the pandemic hit? How did Don Alfonso choose to pivot? And how successful was said pivot?
JM: We we’re at the Toronto street location for just under a year when the pandemic started in Canada. Really not much was happening during the lockdowns and restrictions but once things started to loosen up we were on it super quick. We moved locations in only a couple weeks and opened as a kind of Pop-Up at Casa Loma where Liberty Group also has Blueblood steak house. I was managing at the time and it was a ton of work and literal heavy lifting but we got it opened up there really fast. People were eager to get back to dining so we were busy; pretty much full every night.
GFR: Please describe your role with the Liberty Group… What does a normal day entail for you? Is there a normal day?
JM: I work exclusively as a sommelier now so I pretty much only deal with wine. Typical day depends on whether I open or not but basically setting up the wine stations for the tasting menu pairings, restocking the cellar and then working the evening recommending and opening wines and doing the wine pairings for the tasting menu. As far as a normal goes it’s very consistent which I think is the hallmark of a well run high level restaurant I mean there’s always different challenges and service scenarios but our approach is always to maintain a top level experience.
GFR: Please tell us a little about your Sommelier history? What kind of experience and training wine-wise did you have before doing what you are doing today? And looking back, if you could, would you have made different decisions?
JM: So I moved to Toronto in 2012 after living in Montreal where I attended the National Theatre School. I was looking for a side gig to make money and had someone recommend I get a job at a restaurant since the money was really good. I hadn’t worked in a restaurant at all before but I had an in with a friend for a job as a food runner so I took it. Turns out it was at Lee Restaurant on King street working for Chef Susur Lee. It was a really formative experience there, very structured and intense but I loved it! I moved up into a serving position there and starting taking an interest in selling wine. I would read Karen MacNeil’s wine Bible on the streetcar to and from work and started to build my knowledge. As I started becoming stronger with the wine list I thought about maybe taking some courses like WSET. I had a friend in the industry who was a sommelier so I asked him about it and he basically told me if I had a couple of grand for a wine course I should just buy fine wine, study it, drink it and then challenge the sommelier exams which is what I ended up doing. I don’t really think I’d do anything different to be honest I think it’s how I ended up where I am now.
GFR: Before your career in wine you were studying cultural anthropology and then went on to the National Theatre School in Montreal… I’d be curious as to your thoughts regarding transferable skills? The performative aspect of being a sommelier and all that stuff…
JM: Wine and culture are so closely linked from every angle. It’s just one of those amazing things that we as a species have taken everywhere with us. Every time I study a region I approach it from the angle of understanding the history of the place and the culture and how it’s wine styles and tradition develop. It’s honestly fascinating. I think I’ve always been a storyteller at heart and that’s what drew me to performance. I used to film and edit skateboard films in high school and then did a lot of photography in university. I loved being able to tell a story through video or photos. I find being a sommelier is a lot about stories both of the wine you serve and the of the evening you open it. Then with performance you’re taught that presence is paramount and I had some pretty serious training at NTS that primed me to arrive to a situation that way. I think that type of ability is directly transferable to serving in a restaurant. Being present with your guest and sharing moments. It’s really very similar.
GFR: When did you first decide that you would actually like a career in wine?… and was it with a view to being a Sommelier?
JM: That moment came when I did the introductory level course with the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas in 2015. I had just been promoted to manager at Lee and on the advice of my friend decided I was going to challenge the first exam with the CMS so I flew to Baltimore and took the two day course and exam. I was hooked. I loved the energy and hospitality of the master sommeliers as they lead us through the course, everything was so interesting too. I looked at what was possible to become a real master and the competitive part of me just said ‘that’s what I want, I want to be a master.’
GFR: You told me about your first real wine epiphany… and it involved TWO bottles of 1982 Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage. Let’s talk about that… WTAF?
JM: Haha yeah. It was after I had passed the intro course and was becoming more interested in fine wine particularly with age. I was always looking over inventory lists where ever I happened to be and when travelling home to Newfoundland saw that they had this 1982 Chapelle Hermitage so of course resend and decided to buy a couple bottles. I think they where just over $300 each and up to them I probably hadn’t spent more them $30 on a bottle of wine but I went for it. I opened one with my dad while I was there and it was just so incredible. So intense and with towering kaleidoscopic aromatics that just changed every time I smelled it. It was the best food or drink I’d ever had. It just had such an impact on my mind it was really a revelation on what is possible with wine.
GFR: So who or what gave you your very first insight into the world of wine?
JM: I mean growing up my family didn’t drink a lot of wine but I started to take a bit of an interest in university as I didn’t really enjoy drinking cheap beer. I really wasn’t learning anything about it but I enjoyed it. I guess some of my first real insights came from my StepGrandfather David. He and my Nan, Sandra are just incredible hosts and really know how to bring joy to the table. David had this ease and generosity around his wine and I just loved that style it made it so accessible for everyone never stuffy or anything like that. I remember him saying at some point that ‘when you’re in good company and a wine calls to you from the cellar you must open it’ and I live by that now nothing is too precious for the right moment and hey you never know you could sit on a wine for 20 years and it turns out to be corked. I always though that was such a graceful approach to something that can often have a lot pretension.
GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?
JM: Not particularly no. I remember my first taste of scotch though haha! I was only 12 and it was at my grandfathers funeral who was a lover of scotch. I was really close with him and it was a really difficult time. I remember my dad and uncles where having a toast to my grandfather and my dad came over and put his arm around me and said to have a little sip for him so I did. I remember it tasting awful haha! But I held it down. That moment felt very sacred it had such importance and meaning. Drinks can do that sometimes: just become greater then the maker or any of the ingredients could have intended.
GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?
JM: I mean different cultures have different approaches to be sure. In Europe it’s much more common to be introduced at a younger age and historically it was part of water purification so it would have been from a very early age back then. Like a lot of things that need responsibility I think it should be talked about for sure. So i think it’s fine to talk about it at a young age and maybe try a taste here and there in their early teens but not to drink a bottle or something like that.
GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious arseholes, and after seeing that film Somm a few years back I still worry about the emergence of a new Wine Bro culture… also, I recently picked up on a LOT of that vibe from some of the usual suspects in the mixology crowd, full-on Jordan Peterson fans and all that stuff, fedoras and all… and one of them was recently jumping to Andrew Tate’s defence… the mind freaking boggles.
I’d love to hear your thoughts?
JM: Oof. Yeah that’s super lame. I don’t have time for that kind of attitude or beliefs. I also don’t know about that culture here locally and I work with a lot of women somms so that really hasn’t been my personal experience but it does exist out there I’m sure. The CMS was recently part of a sexual harassment scandal and it lead to a very necessary reckoning of exactly that kind ofmisogynistic attitude. It’s terrible that people are able to poison a whole community like that. They’ve made some significant changes with the court that are all moves in the right direction. Ultimately wine is meant to bring people together and I think that anything that leads to more inclusion for everyone is the right direction. As for Peterson and Tate those guys are the biggest arseholes in existence. I think anybody who follows those type of bigoted ideologies thinking it makes them appear strong it’s actually exactly the opposite just really pathetic.
GFR: Well, I certainly agree with you on that front.
Speaking of which, we are having some really important conversations right now about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the hospitality workplace, and what can be done to eradicate it from the culture.
I’d be interested to hear your take on the topic, and perhaps what you have witnessed yourself during your time in the restaurant world… big question I know, but I feel it’s a topic that deserves discussion.
JM: I would say that this industry in particular has traditionally had more of that going on then most other work places. I’ve unfortunately seen that in kitchens and restaurants among staff and patrons for sure but I’m also seeing it change. I think there’s been a few people to really shine the light on just how bad things have been. There’s been a big push for better HR and open lines communication for a lot of places and I think that’s having a positive impact on the work environment. It’s important for restaurant managers to create the type of environment where people want to come to work and feel comfortable and protected from harassment.
GFR: So, natural wine is basically the new normal… I’m pretty choosy when it comes to my personal forays into that world. What’s your take? And how do natural wines fit into your program with the Liberty Group?
JM: I never really jumped on that bandwagon to be honest. There’s been a lot of hype about ‘Natural wine’ but little understanding of what that actually means. It’s a bit of problem with that type of terminology. Ultimately I think that the character of the grape has to stay central for a wine and sometimes natural or low intervention wines can have a lot of flavours and aromas that are coming from the process that bury the character of the grape and just don’t really taste good at all. Wine is made in the vineyard and that’s were I think a natural process is most important. Some natural wines can be great but for me the winemaking has to be clean and not impart those off flavours. We have a few natural wines at Don Alfonso but it’s not a cornerstone of our program. They can certainly come in handy for tricky pairings though.
GFR: How would you say that your palate has evolved over the years?
For example, I went through an old vine Zinfandel phase. I revisited such wines last year back… Hmmmm… interesting, but really not for me any more.
JM: I think when I started out I would kind of latch on to something that I found interesting in a wine and really want to drink a lot of it. I went through this phase were I was drinking a lot of wines from the south rhone and Italy that had a lot of those barnyard horse blanket type flavours that come the yeast Brettanomyces but now I really don’t like those flavours in a wine. I started to realize too that my palate is really fluid and changes fairly often. I think it changes a lot with the seasons too depending on what food I’m eating. I’m be actually recently been having a bit of a moment with Malbec. I think the style has really changed and there’s some really elegant examples now with amazing florality and peppery notes.
GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines?
JM: There’s some really awesome stuff being made here in Canada coast to coast.
GFR: What do you think that we do well here in Canada, and how is the interest for them at Don Alfonso?
JM: I think there’s a lot we do really well here for sure. Ontario has some really amazing Pinot and Chard and also Cab Franc and Riesling. Some of that stuff is absolutely world class. We pour some Pinot from Prince Edward County by the glass and guests love it. Where were based on the hotel we get a lot of guests that are travelling and interested in local wines. People are always surprised by how good these wines are.
GFR: And what do you feel we should really give up on?
JM: Maybe Cabernet Sauvignon. I just don’t think it suite the terroir here that well. I’ve had a couple that were decent but I don’t think they’ll ever compete with the other great expressions of the world.
GFR: How do you feel about Canadian’s support of our local wine industry?
JM: I think it’s really strong actually. A lot of people drink local wines. I’d like to see a bit more Canadian focused wine events here in the city though.
GFR: Just as there is from everywhere in the world, there is quite a lot of dreadful wine coming from Canada (BC, Quebec, Ontario et al.) also. How do you feel about the issue of people simply promoting something because of it being local, and not because of its quality?
JM: Its not great when that happens really you always want the quality of a wine to speak for itself but I do think it’s good to support something that’s still growing and working out the kinks. Not all wineries start out making amazing wine but there’s always a push to get better. What I don’t like to see is large wineries putting out sub-par wines and then using there marketing to dominate the market and push out smaller wineries but I guess that happens everywhere.
GFR: Has your job allowed you to travel much?
That’s one thing that I really miss during this damn pandemic, going on wine trips… although I don’t know if I’ll ever want to get on a plane again!
JM: A little bit yes and it’s starting to pick up a little this year so I’m feeling good about travelling to more regions soon.
GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit over the years?
JM: I really haven’t been that many places yet. I’ve been to Niagara and Sonoma as well. This year I get to go to the Finger Lakes and Chianti so that’s exciting.
GFR: Have you ever made your own wine?
JM: Not yet but it’s something I really want to do. I’ve talked to some producers about it and I’m hoping I get the opportunity in the next few years.
GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?
JM: I really like the potential in the Okanagan Valley. I think it’s a great place to make some Syrah out there.
GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?
JM: I really enjoy managing a team. I think leadership is really more about your actions then anything you say. It’s important to be there with your staff when things get rough. I would say though I think I’m happier now just working with wine. It’s really what I’m most passionate about and getting to work with it everyday is great. I’m really fortunate in that way.
GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?
JM: I would say the highs would be when Don Alfonso received the Michelin star. It was a lot of work over the last few years and things were rough with the lockdowns. We were really lucky that the owner Nick DiDonato always pushed that project forward. His vision for that restaurant was so ambitious but it really paid off. Also, I recently received the top place for the Best Sommelier Ontario Competition which was the culmination of a lot of hard work especially the last two years so it really felt like it was all worth it when receiving that award. As for lows there’s been a few but I don’t dwell on stuff like that so nothing really sticks out in my mind.
GFR: Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?
JM: I think locally I’d have to say Master Sommelier Jennifer Heuther. She’s really down to earth and so generous and humble with her knowledge and I think that’s such an important quality for a somm. Also, one of the most amazing sommeliers I’ve ever met is Master Sommelier Bobby Stucky. He’s just such an amazing hospitality professional and really has amazing insight into how to make people have the best experience possible.
GFR: And for Wine Agents/Importers?
JM: I’d have to say Dave Rukavina or as he’s affectionately known as Dave the Wine Guy. Such an awesome supplier who works with a few different agencies. He’s super reliable and just an all around awesome person and his passion for wine is really something inspiring.
GFR: Ah yes, Dave The Rave… I know him well! Spoke to him just the other week actually. Terrific chap.
Do you have nightmares about working with wines? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away… I have them all the time, and I haven’t been in the role for over twelve bloody years!!!
JM: Haha yeah sometimes I do. Mostly they tend to be that someone has ordered a wine and we don’t have it and I have to tell them the bad news. I also occasionally have nightmares about exam situations where I feel I haven’t prepared enough or that I don’t know how to complete a task properly. I had one not too long ago where I was in a service exam and they asked me to grill a hamburger bun and I didn’t know whether to use a griddle or an actual grill. That would clearly never happen but the feeling of anxiety was strong. Pretty ridiculous that one, I got a good laugh remembering it the next day.
GFR: Wine folks famously have their Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
JM: Really? I don’t think I fall in that category haha! I do get the odd Sunday off here and there. Honestly, I’d say my perfect idea is pretty simple: just stay at home and cook a beautiful meal with my wife Melissa have some great wine, listen to some music and just relax.
GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink in Toronto… perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our city?
JM: There are so many amazing places but I have a soft spot for La Palette on Queen street. Just such an awesome and eclectic wine list and great French bistro food. They do the best steak frites in the city and all the staff there are super knowledgeable about all things beverage.
GFR: Do you like to cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?
JM: Absolutely! I love to cook. Right now I have this recipe for a French country soup with sausage potato and Swiss chard that’s delicious. I’ve made it twice in the last couple weeks. I also have a great recipe for a proper gumbo that I love to make as well.
GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?
JM: Not lately no. Like everyone I made a lot of sour dough bread over the pandemic and there were some pretty catastrophic results there but I eventually figured it out.
GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier community in Toronto?
JM: I think there is yes. I have a really great study group right now that really works hard together so I feel a lot of support there for sure.
GFR: Do you hang out often with other Sommeliers? And if you do, do you only shoot the shit about wine?
JM: Yeah absolutely. Definitely I’m always talking about wine. I mean we occasionally talk about other stuff but it always circles back to something wine related. I think maybe I’m a bit fanatical that way.
GFR: How do you feel about Toronto as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you needed to get your wine or cocktail on?
JM: I think there’s a huge cocktail scene in this city and there’s a lot of places doing really cool stuff but honestly I don’t really go out that much. We have a great bar team at Don Alfonso so I mostly end up there for drinks.
GFR: What do you feel you would be doing if you were not doing what you are doing today?
JM: Probably working in film and TV as an editor or camera operator. Or some other form of storytelling, I’d say.
GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?
JM: There’s a few shows that I think have some great scenes with food. But I love the scene from Hook where they get Robin Williams to imagine all the food at the table with the lost boys and everything is super colourful and just over the top. I remember loving that scene as a kid.
GFR: Do you have many non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?
JM: I have a few most everybody thinks is pretty cool to work with wine, at least that’s what they tell me. Haha
GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine? You told me that you can get rather competitive?
JM: It’s challenging for sure but I think it really forces you to get underneath the flavours and aromas and try to suss out the structure of the wine. I can be competitive for sure but it’s mostly with myself pushing myself to get better.
GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…
JM: I definitely don’t blind taste with a hangover… really doesn’t work for me haha
GFR: Some of the best tasters I know are heavy smokers… What are your thoughts there?
JM: I don’t smoke but I’ve been told that it doesn’t really effect the palette because you get acclimatized to it if you’re doing it regularly. I still have the occasional cigar but I find it does have an affect on my palate that makes certain things harder to taste mostly for structure things like tannin or alcohol level.
GFR: In your mind what is “hot” in the world of wine right now? And why?
JM: Really depends on what part of the market you’re looking at. Burgundy is huge in the collector market right now even more then Bordeaux but I’d say the more trendy part is for emerging or re-emerging regions like Bulgaria, Slovenian, Croatia. There’s some interesting wines coming out those countries and some really great value.
GFR: Aside from these fashions in wine drinking, what’s your current favourite wine style/region? And why?
JM: I really try to drink different stuff all the time but recently have been drinking a lot of mencia from Bierzo and Ribera sacra. I love the florality and the density of flavour but with a lighter weight on the palette. I also always drink a lot of Pinot noir and love the stuff coming out of baden in Germany. There great value there too.
GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour? Why do you feel that is?
JM: I think the big over extracted oaky monster wines that were kind of typical of new world wine making are starting to become less fashionable. I’m seeing a lot more wines that are moving in the other direction. I think people are starting to appreciate more delicate and lifted flavours instead of drinking a glass that taste like sawdust and ink.
GFR: When it comes to wine, is there anything that you feel is terribly overrated?
JM: Yes for sure, but I try to think that everything has a place at the table but I would saw there’s a few places where the marketing is stronger then the wine and what’s in the bottle doesn’t always match the price tag at least for me.
GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now, something nice and seasonal?
JM: I don’t know if it’s really seasonal but I love champagne with pretty much everything but it’s particularly great with soft triple cream cheese and a good baguette.
GFR: I’d be interested as to your thoughts about the differences in pairing with Susur Lee’s dishes at Lee vs. pairing with the elevated Italian cuisine at Don Alfonso?
JM: There really different cuisines. I would say Don Alfonso is a bit more of a traditional approach where we are mostly considering what the central element of the dish is whether it’s meat or fish or what have you and basing our approach to pairing on that where as with Chef Lee I always have to consider what else is on the plate because he uses a lot of ingredients and stuff that has really unique flavours. He uses a lot of really flavourful sauces that can be challenging to pair with so I’m always considering the other elements on the plate more when pairing with his dishes.
GFR: You like beer, rum, and Irish Whiskey, right? What are you currently enjoying?
JM: Beer- I love lambic beers and Flanders red ales. Duchesse de Bourgogne is my favourite.
Rum- I like Eldorado 12 year as a go to but also the 21 year as a good sipping rum and it’s actually not too badly priced for that level of quality.
Irish Whiskey_ I don’t actually drink a lot of Irish whiskey anymore too much PTSD from my university days but I’ve been having a bit of moment with bourbon I like woodford reserve a lot.
GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as a Sommelier? For me it was the f****** inventory. Oh, and breaking down boxes… and the resultant papercuts (I have such soft hands!)
JM: I’d have to agree with you there. That and missing invoices haha!
GFR: Hahaha… I had totally forgotten about that element!
What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew? And why?
JM: Classic two step Pulltaps or something similar. I’ve had a bunch of different corkscrews over the years but those are the most reliable and consistent. I also use my ah so a lot as we do have older wines in are program at Don Alfonso that can have challenging corks
GFR: Due to us being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?
JM: I drink for the pleasure of the aromatics and flavour so I’m happy with a glass of wine after work. I might have a few on my day off but I don’t drink everyday and I make sure I’m being sensible about how much I have in a sitting. I like to save special wines for the holidays and that’s when I’ll maybe go a bit overboard Haha
GFR: There’s a lot of open discourse right now around the topic of both drug and alcohol abuse within the restaurant world. Would you care to share a few of your thoughts about that side of the business? To be quite frank with you, the thing I miss the LEAST about working in that environment is the late nights of drinking and recreational pharmaceuticals. I don’t think my body could take it any longer anyway!
JM: It’s a part of the restaurant culture for sure and I’ve seen people struggle with it. When I was first serving we’d go out to bars for last call and you end coming home when the sun’s coming up but I never go out after work anymore I’d rather just go home and relax. I don’t think my body could take that kind of punishment these days haha
GFR: Speaking of which, have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time? I think it happened to me back in Scotland once… hazy memories… at the City Café.
JM: Hmm I don’t think I’ve ever been cut off at bar to be honest but there’s been a few times when I’m visiting my family back home and me and dad will get into a bottle of rum or a few bottles of wine and my Mom will cut us both off and tell us we’re done for the night haha!
GFR: Which leads rather neatly into the next question… do you happen to have a good hangover cure? None of the cures given to me by previous interviewees have really done the job for me… well, apart from the suggestion about CBD gummies.
JM: Honestly it’s all about drinking water while your drinking wine at pretty much a 1 to 1 ratio. If you miss that then there’s not really any hope the next day. I find having food before you go to bed can soften the blow but really if you end up with a bad hangover you just have to sleep it off.
GFR: How many wines do you “taste” in a week these days?
JM: We taste a lot at work so I’d say probably 10-15 wines a day. And then I do structures blind tasting once a week where we’ll taste probably 18 different wines.
GFR: When tasting with agents did you choose to spit or swallow?
JM: I always spit wine when I’m tasting professionally whether that’s with an agent or at a portfolio show. It’s a better way to asess the wine for me.
GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?
JM: It changes often honestly. Right now it’s Matilda Nieves Mencia from Ribera Sacra.
GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever? Probably those two bloody bottles of La Chapelle!
JM: Those were memorable for sure but I’d say there’s two that really stand out for me. One was a 1996 Robert Arnoux Romanee St. Vivant that I brought back to Newfoundland one year. It was one of the greatest wines I’ve ever had just changed so much and had such amazing length. And then another that I’ll never forget was when a guest at Lee Restaurant brought in a DRC La Tache for me to try. We had been having a conversion about burgundy pinot and we were taking about all the great wines we’ve tried and he said have you ever tried La Tache and I said ‘sir that’s a little of my wheelhouse’ and he said he next time he came he’d bring one and sure enough a few weeks later I’m reading the reservation notes and he had written ‘bringing in a La Tache for Justin to try and he showed up with a 1988 and poured me a full glass. It was the first time I had tried La Tache. It was tremendous. Just endless on the mid palette but so elegant and beautifully textured. Truly mesmerizing.
GFR: If only all customers were as generous…
Coffee or tea?
JM: I drink more coffee but I love tea too. I could never choose just one.
GFR: Lemon, horseradish, mignonette, or hot sauce?
JM: Horseradish and lemon all day.
GFR: Vindaloo or Korma?
JM: I love a good korma.
GFR: Milk or dark?
JM: Dark for sure.
GFR: Ketchup, mayonnaise, or salt & vinegar?
JM: Haha! On fries? Ketchup.
GFR: Blue, R, MR, M, MW, W, Charcoal?
JM: Depends on the cut. Striploin rare, ribeye mid rare but it’s all about that crust.
GFR: Finally… What three pieces of advice would you give to a young fresh-faced Justin Madol, fresh out of theatre school and loving his first restaurant hosting job?
JM: Don’t worry so much about getting things wrong, take more time off to travel and start collecting wines right away!
GFRL Thanks so much for your time, Justin… some smashing answers there.
Edinburgh-born/Ontario-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, educator, and Dad, Jamie Drummond is the Director/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 seriously knows his shit and just celebrated his 85th birthday!
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. After working as GM at DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu and Sommelier Pete Hammond, Anton is now selling wine with Banville Wine Merchants and explores the world of mycology in his spare time.