Mathias Camilleri, Head Sommelier of The Five Fields

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th November 2017

Mathias Camilleri is the winner of Moet's UK Sommelier of the Year 2017 and is one of the most promising young talents to emerge out of the UK. He has been head sommelier at Michelin-starred The Five Fields restaurant in Chelsea for just over two years.

Prior to The Five Fields restaurant, Mathias worked at Joe Mercer Nairne's and David O'Connor’s 3 AA rosette restaurant, Medlar on King’s road also in Chelsea under the guidance of Master Sommelier, Clement Robert.

Before Mathias discovered his passion for wine, he originally wanted to pursue a career as a musician. Upon graduating from sommelier school in Paris he chose to broaden his horizons and moved to the UK. Since then his career has gone from strength to strength. This October the young wine enthusiast became a Master Sommelier.

The Staff Canteen spoke with Mathias to find out how it felt winning Moet's UK Sommelier of the Year 2017, working with Taylor Bonnyman at Five Fields and why he sees Clement Robert as a mentor.

Mathias Camilleri
Mathias Camilleri

Congratulations on winning Moet's UK Sommelier of the Year 2017! How did it feel to win?

It is an honour to be awarded this title. I was chasing for it for so long! It was my fourth attempt and it has been a long journey. It is the end of a chapter and it is the beginning of a new one. This year and next will be exciting.

How have things changed for you since winning UK Sommelier of the Year 2017?

The impact was immediate and very strong. I have been flooded with lots of kind messages on social media to congratulate me. I was also contacted to give some interviews and offered some work. You’re suddenly under the spotlight.

Now you have won UK Sommelier of the Year, what’s next?

My immediate aim is to keep satisfying our guests at Five Fields restaurant and work very closely with the team and Taylor Bonnyman, our chef patron, to make his restaurant reach a second and maybe a third star.

This October was my second attempt for the Master Sommelier. It has also always been a dream to attend an International Sommelier Competition so I’m hoping to be the UK competitor for the ASI World Best Sommelier in Belgium in 2019 but we will have to go through a selection process with previous winners of the UK Sommelier of the year. So it’s going to be extremely tough.

What was it that first got you interested in wine? Had you always wanted to be a sommelier?

Originally, I wanted to be a musician and I only started to develop an interest in wine from the age of around 20 years old. At that time I was living in Macau in China and it is a bottle of Riesling Kabinett Scharzhorfberger by Egon Muller from Mosel that gave me this addiction.

What made you decide to come to the UK?

After graduating from my sommelier school in Paris I wanted to have an experience abroad to improve my English and also discovered a market where wines are international. The UK looked like the perfect platform and now it feels like a home.

Info Bar

Top 5 service experiences

The Fat Duck, Bray, UK

La Trompette, London, UK

Epicure in Bristol Hotel, Paris, France

Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Enoteca La Vite Turchese, Barolo Italy

Who is your role model?

Through my career I have had the chance to meet so many great sommeliers but Gerard Basset remains the most inspirational of them.

What is it like working with Taylor Bonnyman at Five Fields?

Another inspiration in my work. Taylor is the most creative chef I had the chance to work with. It is with huge pride that I am able to be part of his restaurant and pair wines with such an elegant and artistic cuisine.

Does he have much input when it comes to wine pairing?

I have now worked for the Five Fields for almost two years and the connection between Taylor’s cuisine and my wine philosophy has become instinctive. My role is to support his dishes with wines which will enhance the different nuances of flavours and textures. On the other hand his cuisine is so generous that there is enough space for an eclectic selection of wines.

How did Clement Robert help you progress at The Medlar Restaurant?

If Gerard Basset is a model, Clement Robert is a mentor. I had the privilege to be on the first row to observe his preparations for the UK Sommelier of the Year 2013, the Master Sommelier exam and witness his success at the Medlar restaurant. This was such pure inspiration for me and gave me the motivation to always give my best every day and one day reach the same level.

Sea and Earth - Crab/Tarama, Oyster/Passion Fruit, Langoustine/Hazelnut, Scallop/Broccoli. Photography by David Cotsworth

Sea and Earth - Crab/Tarama,

Oyster/Passion Fruit,

Langoustine/Hazelnut,

Scallop/Broccoli.

Photography by David Cotsworth

What is your favourite part of being head sommelier and what do you find most difficult?

I feel very privileged as I am doing what I love to do. I don’t see difficulties in being a sommelier, I see challenges and opportunity to learn and become better.

Have you had to deal with difficult customers? How do you approach the situation?

Difficult customers usually know what they want and how they want to be served. The challenge is to understand and follow their needs to give them the most personalised service which will match their expectations.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Be curious, taste as much as possible, and whatever the difficulty may be, don’t skip it, face it. If you fail, learn from it and never give up.

Update: In February 2018, Mathias Camilleri left Five Fields to work in Asia.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th November 2017

Mathias Camilleri, Head Sommelier of The Five Fields