Part 2: Sebastien’s Background. The reprise of a 2010 magazine interview (in five parts) with one of my favourite people, sommelier Sebastien Le Goff.
Le Goff was inducted into BC’s Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2012 and is currently the Service Coordinator for Cactus Club.
Brix: Tell us about your French roots and influences.
SLG: My grandmother, Suzanne, was an amazing cook. When I was a kid, she set up the table for lunch or dinner with an extra place just in case someone will show up. She taught me: always be ready for someone, always make someone feel welcome.
That was probably the biggest influence I had growing up in France.We have to make it easy for people so they feel like they came to the right place. It doesn’t matter if it’s casual or high-end. Nothing is a big deal, everything is smooth. For me, that’s important.
Brix: Tell us how you came to work for Jeremy Choo.
SLG: I moved to Singapore with my best friend to start up an import export company. We’d import wine, pigeon, truffles, chocolate, cheese and foie gras from France and distribute it in restaurants in Asia. We were definitely under prepared—no capital—so very fast I had to find a job to sustain our living. I answered an ad in The Straits Times for a French restaurant hiring servers.
At the time I had never worked in a restaurant in my life. I helped them out with sourcing out suppliers, translating all the documents, importing and so on. Jeremy taught me serving, hospitality, the base of my job. They treated me like a nephew. They got me a work permit, got me an apartment, and were very good to me. I think there are times you really click with people, and they give you more than you ever expected.
Brix: You’ve called Choo your mentor.
SLG: I learned a lot from him. He read large, tasted a lot, travelled extensively to the vineyards. He’s got a great palate. One night he was tasting wine and was able to tell me the vintage and the appellation in Bordeaux. I was like—oh my god, he’s cheating. He and his wife have got a game and they are tricking me.
The next night I made sure she was not around. I quizzed him, and he got everything right. Amazing for someone born in Singapore who started from scratch, who used to travel to France once a year with his wife, dine at the best restaurants, buy some wine, bring it back.
Brix: Why did you leave Singapore before the end of a year with Choo?
SLG: I got a job in Hong Kong in the import export business. I thought I didn’t go to school to be in the restaurant business. Then I met a woman in Hong Kong. Her contract was ending and she was moving back to Toronto. My contract was ending and I decided to—you know. Why not? [He laughs.]
This interview (in slightly different form) first appeared in
Brix: Where people, wine and travel mix. Volume 4: 2010.
To read the entire interview click here: LE GOFF 4 TWOW.
Photo used with Permission of Claudette Carracedo. http://www.claudettecarracedophoto.com/