Congratulations to Lela Sherdon, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
Certified Chef, Culinary School. Chef and restaurant owner of Lela’s Café, a French inspired bistro café, for 9.5 years, I had an extensive wine list of around 250 wines that rotated frequently. I did wine tastings daily and developed a keen palate and deep appreciation for French wines with their unique nuances and multi-layered experience of such well crafted wines from such beautiful terroir that truly honored the natural expression of the inherent grape varietals and the land in which they originated. I believe that France is in my cells in some unusual way. I have always gravitated to all things French, perhaps because my Grandmother was French or at least she always believed she was, even though she was actually born in Italy near France. She would have been proud of my French café and my French Wine Scholar achievement.
In recent times, after I had sold my restaurant, and prior to Covid, I was working at a French upscale restaurant that was run by French Chefs and owners from Paris. Their wine list was entirely French. My job was to serve clients upscale tasting menus from Michelin Chefs and describe the chosen wine flights like a Sommelier. Doing the French Wine Scholar program was a natural progression for me. I realized quickly that I had a passion for French wine and a deep understanding of the wines and longed to learn more. I often would be given wines without any tasting notes and could taste them on the spot and could confidently describe them to the guests and how it related to the food, and then I would add the background info I learned from my French Wine Scholar program to actually be quite astute in my field.
Due to the changes in the restaurant industry, I am currently focusing on my private Chef work with select clients and I also produce my own artisanal home brewed and fermented kombucha which is for me a connection to my love for wine. Truly great wine is a living substance, like kombucha, that is sensitive to its environment; it has personality, expression and even soul.
Completing the French Wine Scholar program with highest honors was very rewarding. It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation. The 5-week instructor led intensive is something that was actually quite a gift to have such a unique focus during the time of quarantine. I am very grateful for the special timing of the program.
Where I will go with this love for wine and study remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that it is a part of my passion and it will be a part of my future. I hope to be able to attend some of the master classes in France in the future.