If you frequent our restaurant, chances are pretty good that you have met Xavyer.
One of On the Square’s longest employees (the only one who has worked with us longer is our beloved Frances), Xavyer is a serious, great-looking, well-spoken man who does exactly the opposite of me. He thinks before he speaks.
A wonderful characteristic to have in any job, Xavyer has become a right hand to On the Square in ways too many to count.
When we cater weddings, he organizes the checklist, making sure we aren’t taking off to a venue with no cocktail sauce for the shrimp. When he works as a runner, he is acutely aware of the reservation schedule, making sure the table is ready for the next guests to arrive. And, of course, this past New Year’s Eve, when we had a brand new dishwasher on staff, Xavyer took all of his time and energy to assist in the dish pit, making sure there was plenty of room for dirty plates and glasses so the restaurant could operate at maximum efficiency.
All of those things make me happy, but none make me happier than Xavyer’s love of wine and his passion for wine service. Recently, I have asked him to take over the wine program on nights when I cannot work, and the result has been amazing.
Meticulous and thorough, he makes it an obsession to know where wines are located (not an easy feat since I have no rhyme or rhythm as to where I place our wine–I call it job security although the real name is disorganization). Xavyer also is intrigued by the magic of the grape, not a trait you can teach. He pours as eloquently as any sommelier I have ever encountered, and when he talks to a table, he is professional and courteous without being stuffy.
In fact, I have to say more than anything, Xavyer has gotten me excited about wine again.
He is totally into it, and sharing wine and wine thoughts with him has brought a new smile to my face.
During the month of January, we have traveled together to Raleigh twice: once for a distributor tasting and today for a blind tasting class presented by one of my most favorite people, Eric Crane.
During the two-hour seminar, we blind tasted six wines. The first flight were two whites both made with Sauvignon Blanc (one was Sancerre and the other was from Marlborough). The second flight was Pinot Noir from Beaune in Burgundy and a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley; and the third flight was Barossa Shiraz and Crozes Hermitage (Syrah from the northern Rhone).
Xavyer and I sat beside each other and listened as our group of about twelve smelled, tasted and discussed. It felt really good to be able to talk to Xavyer about helpful hints I had found useful in blind tasting. He digested the information, and he asked questions as he grasped major concepts.
This past June, Xavyer passed the Introductory Course for the Court of Master Sommeliers.
In April, he will travel to Virginia Beach to take the Certified.
In preparation, I will blind taste him on wines as well as quiz him on theory.
All of a sudden, I am back in the saddle of wine.
As if I didn’t know already, the key to happiness is sharing your love and passion with someone else.