Where are you working currently and how has being a MS supported you in your current role?

I am currently running my own consulting business, Sommelier On-Demand Hospitality Services.  In the world of consulting, it’s all about word of mouth and reputation.  There are no Michelin stars, no publications featuring your workplace, no photos posted on social media.  It’s all about the work you do and how well your clients receive that work.  Being a Master Sommelier has absolutely opened some doors for me, but it’s up to me to keep those doors open and find new doors to knock on.  So the credential gives me a level of credibility that few others can match, but I have to live up to it every day.


Where were you working when you passed?

I was working at Jackson Family Wines as an Import Portfolio Specialist.  I had left a restaurant role shortly before joining JFW as I had a newborn son and another one on the way and the restaurant hours were challenging for my family.


What made you want to become an MS?

I can clearly remember my Intro course in Toronto in 2006.  I had just returned from a year abroad in Australia earning a Master’s Degree and the job I had lined up fell through at the last minute, meaning my future was quite unclear.  While I didn’t want to return to the BOH in restaurants, I started to consider what could help me out finding a position in a dining room and found the CMS and the opportunity to take the Intro course.  While I was sitting in the classroom on the first day, I was in awe of the Master Sommeliers who were teaching.  Their knowledge, their professionalism just blew me away.  I felt that if I could be half as knowledgeable about wine as they were, I’d be successful at my job.  But with my academic background and competitive nature, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied being “half as knowledgeable” so I quietly said to myself that I was going to find a path to earn the MS title.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

It’s so important to find other people pursuing certifications and connect with them.  Being a sommelier or beverage manager is a fairly isolating position as there is usually only one or two per establishment and even when you may be on the floor together, you’re working separate stations.  So finding people who you can commiserate with, share stories with, and just generally connect with is important.  They become friends, study buddies, and sounding boards throughout your career.  I’m still close friends with a number of people who were there with me at the start of my journey.

It’s also important to ask yourself “what will this certification get me?” and “does it help me to fulfill my career goals?”  People with credentials who earned them just to collect titles or post-nominals have wasted time and money, in my opinion.  If earning a credential helps you get closer to who you want to be as a professional, or helps you find clarity about what your future looks like, that’s time and money well spent.


What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about?

Knowing that if a Master Sommelier said Champagne, Burgundy, or Riesling it would be news to no one, I’m going to say that Albariño from Rias Baixas would be my current desert island selection.  I presume there will be plenty of seafood to pair with it, but even if there isn’t, it’s still pretty delicious on its own.