Andrea, originally from Italy, is currently beverage director at The Grove and Baduzzi Restaurants in Auckland. He was selected by the NZ Sommeliers & Wine Professionals Association to represent New Zealand for the first time at an ASI world best sommelier contest in Belgium in 2019. He ranked 14th out of 66 candidates which was a tremendous achievement.
Prior to this Andrea was head sommelier at Hotel Terravina owned by the legendary Gerard Bassett MW, MS in New Forest, Southampton, UK. Before this he was a sommelier at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray and was part of the team that moved to Australia in 2015 to open the Fat Duck Melbourne while the original restaurant was renovated in the UK. He then returned to the UK in September 2015 for the re-opening.
How do you define leadership?
In an environment like Hospitality, where team work is so important, a leader must be able to inspire, educate and mentor the junior members of staff and create an environment of unity and mutual respect, it’s very important in a restaurant or hotel that every team member is looking to help each other and cooperate, to be able to deliver the best experience possible for each guest.
What are the main challenges of being a leader in the wine industry today?
I believe that one of the most important tasks and challenges of any senior member of staff in the wine industry (especially in hospitality) is to keep his/her knowledge up to date constantly in a fast-changing industry and transmit this knowledge down to the team. This is made somewhat more difficult by the fact that often a restaurant has quite a fast turn over of staff, so constant training is always needed for both new and senior colleagues.
Another interesting challenge is being able to read your guest and to understand their needs and expectations. Being able to be open and try to be receptive helping them to choose the wine that will better suit their taste, occasion or pockets!
What are your major breakthroughs in your career to become the leader you are now?
I have been very lucky in my career. I had the opportunity to work with some incredibly inspiring people. I have been working in many 2 or 3 Michelin starred restaurants around the world. In 2014 I worked as Sommelier at Heston Blumenthal The Fat Duck Restaurant for over 2 years and was part of the “migration” of the restaurant to Melbourne in 2015 which gave me an incredible learning ground.
I also had the honor to work as Head Sommelier for the Gerard Basset owned Hotel Terravina. Working with Gerard was an unforgettable experience, he really taught me the value of a true leader: kindness, humility and respect for your team.
If you were starting your career in 2019 in the wine industry, what advice would you give to yourself to become successful and content?
Aim high! Set goals for yourself, not one long term goal but many small ones, and follow them step by step and be focused. That’s how I started and I still follow the same philosophy if you want to call it that.
The wine industry is a beautiful world to be in but it gets more and more competitive by the day, so be prepared for a lot of hard work and study! But don’t worry, hard work ALWAYS pays off. And make sure you never miss a chance to taste some new wines.