Since September, 21-year-old Christopher Lecoufle, a former pupil from Etablissements Notre-Dame, has been working in England as a sommelier with ‘Best sommelier in the World 2010’, Gérard Basset. Feedback from the unconventional journey of the Foundation’s former pupil.
The Best sommelier in the World 2010, Gérard Basset, who runs TerraVina near Southampton with his wife, where the young former pupil has been working since last September, is quick to point out that Christopher has a real passion for the wine he serves with great elegance and style. ‘He’s a very serious, highly motivated young man, with a great willingness to learn’.
It has to be said that at 21 years old, Christopher Lecoufle already has a very full CV. Before joining Gérard Basset’s restaurant, Christopher spent three years training at the prestigious Paris restaurant Lasserre. Christopher was able to seize the opportunity to work at Lasserre after brilliantly winning the Jeune Espoir Boscuse competition in 2011, when he was in his last year studying for a vocational catering diploma at the Apprentis d’Auteuil Notre-Dame Vocational College. This opportunity was also made possible thanks to the work of the Apprentis d’Auteuil Ambassadors’ Club in London (1), and the contribution of donors based in the United Kingdom, who financially supported this project.
"I had problems at school"
"I had difficulties in primary school", he recalls. "I wasn’t really interested in classwork. I began to stall in Year 7. So, I was allowed into Year 8 in secondary school and the Etablissements Notre-Dame boarding school. I then did Year 9, then Year 10 with the Homework Help and Support programme, which enabled me to explore a career in hotel and catering." Christopher then moved on to study for a BEP, then a Bac Pro (Vocational High School Diplomas) apprenticeship qualification at the Foundation. During these years, he had the chance to enter several competitions, including Jeune Espoir Bocuse, which he won brilliantly.
The English adventure
Since September, the former pupil has been fortunate enough to join the Gérard Basset team of sommeliers: Christopher takes it in turn with the other two sommeliers to see to the cocktails and service for customers in the dining room. He is still very young to be in the sommelier profession. He has a lot to learn, but he’s a fast learner! In our family restaurant, Christopher has the opportunity to taste wines from around the world. In France when you serve a Chilean wine, it’s still considered an event! He also studied for several competitions, including the one for Best Young sommelier in England. He finished 7th which is very good result for his first competition in English!
"At every service here, I discover a new wine, a new country!" says Christopher enthusiastically. "And that encourages me to get stuck into my English books in the evening after work, to learn the language even faster and to learn more about the wines of Chile, Argentina and New Zealand. At the moment I’m discovering the wonderful Shiraz wines from Australia. All this makes me want to travel to find out more!" And the young former pupil adds: "I want to thank everyone, at the Foundation and elsewhere, who helped me get where I am. They gave me the chance to enjoy this wonderful experience today."
And the adventure is not over yet! In September, Christopher is expected to join the team of sommeliers of Taillevent new restaurant in London. Watch this space…
(1) The Apprentis d’Auteuil Ambassadors Club gathers together business leaders who lend their skills to the Foundation’s young people. They are the link between the Foundation and the world of business; they share their expertise and networks, and are the go-between for fund-raising and communication.