Interview with Lendl Mijnhijmer - Best Sommelier of the Netherlands

When people think of a sommelier, they tend to only think of tasting, recommending and serving wine. But a sommelier is also a host, a liaison between kitchen, maître and staff and guests, you can contribute enormously to the success of the evening. If the evening goes well, that’s a satisfying feeling.

Born: November 6, 1984, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Accomplishments: Best Sommelier of the Netherlands 2018 (winner Trophée Henriot); Weinakademiker (WSET4 Diploma Graduate)

Current position: Wine Director at TwentySeven Hotel/Restaurant Bougainville, Amsterdam

Has worked for: Restaurant Waterproef, Scheveningen; Carlton Beach Club, Scheveningen (“that’s where my love for wine began”, Lendl says)

This interview was conducted during Cape Wine 2018 (www.capewine2018.com).

WOSA: What is so great about being a sommelier?

Lendl: When people think of a sommelier, they tend to only think of tasting, recommending and serving wine. But a sommelier is also a host, a liaison between kitchen, maître and staff and guests, you can contribute enormously to the success of the evening. If the evening goes well, that’s a satisfying feeling. It is also an infinitely fascinating profession to find wines, a profession so complex that you are never done learning and therefore always challenged. I put a lot of energy into learning, I study a lot.

WOSA: Do you see being a sommelier as your long-term profession?

Lendl: There are some very good examples of people who keep going, who are still highly respected sommeliers at a higher age. I am a boy of the restaurant floor, that is intense. So, I do not know if I’ll still be on the floor at the age of 60. You have to watch your body and mind and also it mustn’t become too much of a routine. In 10 years’ time, for example, I would like to phase out my work on the floor and do more work behind the scenes. But I’ll never leave the floor completely, because standing at the table with the guests is too much fun. Anyway, I will not become a wine importer.

WOSA: You have lived in Cape Town before. How does it feel to be back in South Africa?

Lendl: During the final stage of my education at The Hotel School The Hague (Hospitality Business School) I lived in Cape Town for 8 months (as a trainee), in 2009. I would actually go to Beijing, but we did not get a visa because of the Olympic Games. Then Cape Town came into the picture. I am very happy to be back, because I know that a lot has changed. Due to circumstances this trip is of course weird (Lotte Wolf, a sommelier colleague and friend passed away at the age of only 32), but it felt good to be back, like coming home a bit. I love beautiful cities and Cape Town is wonderful for sure.

WOSA: What springs to mind immediately when you think of South Africa?

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Photo: LEVEN! Magazine

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