The world according to Jan Konetzki

Drinks: Wines
Other: People

Ten Trinity Square’s Jan Konetzki talks to Chris Losh about Star Trek, transsexual bakers, langoustine heads and why non-gesellig sommeliers don’t cut the mustard

‘The person who got me into hospitality was my mum. We had a bakery and it was like party central for all the children of the neighbourhood. I was a massive child. I used to have two chocolate croissants every morning.

‘When I was 19 I moved to New York and worked as a baker. It was like a gay comedy show. We
had a transsexual pretzel baker called Ricky Rock Rodriguez, and a gay Bavarian master baker who looked like Mr T with lots of gold chains and a perfectly trimmed beard.

Photo by Paramount

‘I watch all the Star Trek stuff that’s ever been recorded. From the original series and the obvious ones to the ugly horrible stuff like the comics.

‘I’m an entrepreneurial person. I think I’m going to be my own boss at some stage. It could be a restaurant…

‘I judge the quality of a professional by how many people they’ve trained or inspired, and in our world there’s no-one like Gerard Basset.

‘My death-row meal would be a dozen langoustines caught round Galicia. The tail isn’t the most delicious thing. It’s the juices of the head. I suck the whole head out. Though it has to be super fresh. I couldn’t do it in London.

‘As a gay person, there’s pressure to stay young and youthful. Maturing and ageing isn’t so much embraced. But it’s a fight you can’t win. I’ve decided to find happiness in growing older rather than trying to stay 24.

‘The guy who took the arty photos of me for my website is Berlin-based photographer, Franck Burckhardt. I found out afterwards he spent most of his life shooting porn films.

‘When I first came to Maze in 2007, for a year I tried only to sell German and Austrian wine. At the beginning I didn’t know the difference between Chablis and Puligny.

‘Of course you talk about wine, but the majority of what you do as a sommelier is showing people to their table, topping up water and making appropriate and inappropriate comments. If you don’t love that you’re probably better off in a wine shop or a winery.

‘When I won UK Sommelier of the Year, Gordon Ramsay took me to Savile Row and bought me a tailor-made suit. It was a really thoughtful present because I love fashion and I would never be able to afford something like that myself.

‘I love the word gesellig. It means kind of “homely, welcoming and sociable –  well looked after and all getting together. An evening amongst like-minded people.” There isn’t really an equivalent in English.

Konetzki’s CV

2002 – Begins in on-trade at Zwo11 Bar, Hamburg
2004 – First restaurant job at Hotel Louis C
Jacob, Hamburg
2006 – First job as commis sommelier
2007 – Sommelier at Maze by Gordon Ramsay
2008 – Sommelier, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s
2010 – Promotion to head somm at Gordon
Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road
2012 – Winner Moët UK Sommelier of the Year
2015 – Restaurant Gordon Ramsay picks up the
Sommelier’s Award at Imbibe’s Wine List of Year
2017 – Opens Ten Trinity Square


About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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