How I got here:
My parents have been restaurateurs and hoteliers for over 35 years, and I was even born in a hotel owned by them in Germany. When I was eight years old my parents moved to Egypt where they’ve been for 20 years and now own six restaurants back home.
I was forced to do a business degree in Egypt as my parents didn’t want me to go into the industry like them – they thought the hours were too hard. But after I got my degree I really wanted to learn more, so I came to the UK and did a BA in Hospitality and Foodservice Management alongside a WSTC wine course in Food and Beverage Management.
I then went and got a job as chef de rang at Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus at The Berkeley, but I was only there six months – I didn’t feel comfortable working there. So I left and found a position at Galvin at Windows as head waiter.
I worked my way up to assistant sommelier and a 16 months ago I became head sommelier.
On working at Galvin at Windows:
I think Windows is excellent. I see continuous training and the passion behind it – it’s not just a business but training people to get them qualified and skilled. I send my sommeliers on courses that cost £600-£1000 which we get sponsored by suppliers. You really have a chance at Windows to try out your ideas, and if you make a mistake you just learn from it and move on.
On growing up in hospitality:
Because I grew up in this environment the industry was my playground in a way. My parents are very passionate about this so I really learned a passion for hospitality from them. At 8 years old I was doing stock takes in their restaurants and taking orders, and at 10 I was working in the kitchen all the time. So I was really bought up in the business.
On why training is important:
Education opens your mind to different aspects. You can think you know everything and then you learn something new and think how did I miss this? You get to see things from a different perspective. Continuous training is very important and it doesn’t matter if that’s from a course or inhouse, just that it occurs.
Why I chose sommeliery:
I’ve always been interested in wines. Back home my parents were into wine and so I wanted to learn more. While at Windows I sat down with Fred Sirieix and told him I wanted to do more with wine and we got started on the relevant courses. I’ve now been head sommelier for a year and a half, and for the moment I’m helping out running the restaurant a bit.
My greatest achievement:
My biggest achievement for now is being 27 years old and head sommelier at one of the top restaurants in London. I’ve done a few awards too like the Award of Excellence from the Academy of Culinary Arts.
On my future:
I want to go more into food and beverage management then eventually I’d like to go home and maybe do F&B there. Ultimately I will go on to run my father’s business and open some of my own ideas for my own places back home.