We caught up (virtually) with Melody Wong, head sommelier at Skylon, to talk getting ready for reopening, Basque-style cheesecake, and looking after young somms
Lockdown and social distancing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic mean that most hospitality professionals across the globe are now spending their time at home.
To understand how they're coping with the challenge we've launched a brand new series of interviews. For the twelfth in this series, we virtually caught up with Melody Wong, head sommelier at Skylon.
Are you planning on returning to work on 4 July and if so, what preparations are you making?
I have just found out that Skylon will re-open in July and I have to admit that I feel surprised but excited at the same time. Besides the cleaning tasks, cellar arrangement and creating a reduced wine list, for me it is time to bring my work outfits out of the wardrobe and perhaps buy a fresh pair of working shoes.
How have you been keeping busy over the last few months and what initiatives from the industry have you enjoyed?
I polished my cooking skills with homemade ramen, dumplings, Basque-style cheesecake, and experimented with cold-brew coffee with different grind size and water ratio. I’ve also explored some new hobbies such as practicing calligraphy, flower arranging, and learning how to play golf (swinging at the driving range only) since the lockdown was eased.
I run virtual wine training for D&D London weekly, as well as some fun online tasting sessions with my non-industry friends as well.
Are you excited about going back to work or feeling anxious?
I am excited to go back to my role; I can imagine people are so eager to go out for food and drinks, as well as meet their friends and family again. I do feel nervous about getting back on public transportation and being exposed in public areas.
How do you think wine service will immediately change and do you think consumers will have different taste?
As social distancing applies, some guests might prefer to top up their own bottle instead of the sommelier. I predict consumers would be more price sensitive and hopefully they will be more open to different grape varieties, especially lesser-known grapes that they rarely seen on the high street.
What are you most looking forward to going back to work?
Re-connecting with suppliers and other wine professionals. As well as not to think of what to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner – I did this for three months continuously so some rest would be great.
How do you think young somms should be looked after to make sure they stay in the industry?
Junior sommeliers might need more guidance regarding the industry changes post-lockdown. We need to keep them excited about wine training, tastings and events.
What three wines are you hoping to see on menus when restaurants reopen?
Champagne Gosset 12yo cuvée, Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones Malbec 2016, and Graham's Blend No.5 White Port.