Why did you decide to study in the restaurant industry?
I started working at restaurants when I arrived in Quebec in November 2014, after working as a firefighter in Paris for six years. I started out as a busboy at the bar Thursday’s, and right away I fell in love with this demanding industry. You actually need a lot of the same skills that a firefighter does! After working in different establishments in Montreal for a year, I decided to get formal training to really start my professional career with a solid foundation.
What motivated you to study abroad?
The fact that I already lived here! I couldn’t imagine going home to go to school and then leaving again… I was already very settled here, which made going back to school a lot easier! Also, I think I learned as much about French wines here as I would have in France, given their international popularity. But I wouldn’t have learned as many things about other wine countries if I had been in France. My Quebec training has given me a much greater international perspective.
Why the ITHQ?
Because of the school’s reputation and the quality of the education. Before registering, I asked around in my professional network. Without exception, everyone gave it a good review, and most people had gone to school here themselves.
Why did you choose the IRSST program in particular?
Because of the combined service and sommelier training. For me, being a good server means knowing your wine list as well as your menu. A sommelier also needs solid service experience, because wine service is just as important during a meal. The two jobs are very closely related. Above all, I was won over by the many internships (in an English environment or at a vineyard or a high-scale French restaurant). For me, it’s essential to have solid theoretical knowledge and also to know the realities of the job and how things work outside of the classroom.
What did you like most about your program?
The entire program is really captivating and very intense. I really loved the sensory analysis courses, as I discovered an incredible variety of products, like different salts, olive oils, spices and herbs. You may not think they’re important, but these basic ingredients are found in luxury products, such as traditional Modena balsamic vinegar. Of course, being a sommelier takes you on a journey around the world and lets you study so many topics.
What challenges did you have at the ITHQ?
My only challenge was my level of English, which, as is the case for many of my French compatriots, is not something I master very well. I get by with my own type of English, but it wasn’t enough to take this training. I had to do a full-time, six-week course at another school to pass the English admission test.
What are your professional ambitions?
First, I want to finish my training and leave the ITHQ with great results! Then, I want to get experience as a chef de rang, hopefully at Barroco, where I already work busing tables. This would give me solid experience in Montreal. Given all the people I’ve met and my experiences, I’ll most likely move on to other projects. But one thing is for sure: I will always want to learn, discover and even teach others. Becoming a wine journalist to explain the world of wine to a lay audience would also be an interesting goal for me.