Becoming a Good Father

August 25, 2017 Harald Wiesmann

To be in the business for 45 years is, I believe, special. Most people my age have left the industry for retirement or have changed profession to something else. It all started at the Hotel Russischer Hof in Wuerzburg Bavaria (Hotel Russian Domaine) in 1972 on the 5th of August. At the time, it was maybe the best Hotel in the town but surely the best restaurant as we even made the Canard a la Presse in front of guests. Nevertheless I had to leave this place as the owner wanted me to become a waiter at his second premises, in a town hall where the banquet was the target. So I left and went to the place where I learned the majority of my knowledge and skills – the Restaurant Weinhaus Anker.

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It was not just the service which I perfected here but it was the recognition for good wine too. From the start of their dinner the guests could choose from a great variety of local Franconian wines and great Burgundy wines. The owner loved Burgundy, so at 16 I had my big tasting of big wines like La Tache or Richebourg and many other Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines. I believe it is this reason why I do not often find a good Pinot Noir to my liking as I was spoiled from my early days of being a waiter. I also do believe that the Burgundy wines of this time tasted, in a way, better than current equivalents. But that is my opinion. This fine dining Restaurant, which was awarded 1 star from the Michelin Guide in 1976 for the first time and held it for more than 25 years (no Restaurant in Germany has held a star for so many consecutive years) shaped me to become a waiter who was knowledgable and was able to think about my work in each situation. Therefore I like to thank the Families Kerscher and Schmit here indeed for the great learning experience. All in all I worked three times in this Restaurant in the span of 5 years. First as apprentice 1973 – 1975 than supervisor 1975 -1977 and 2nd Headwaiter 1980-1984.

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Another great place in my work career of 45 years was the Hotel Waldhaus in the Engadin area of Switzerland – 1850 metres above sea level, in the mountains and between two lakes. Here I was the Stuebli Chef, the one in charge for the fine dining a la carte Menu. I may say that this was the best Hotel I ever worked at. I was my own boss in a way, Sire over 8 tables with one or two Commis de rang, serving all the fine dishes imaginable from Caviar out of 2 kg canes to Lobster, whole Salmons and Faison tranche at the table and tartars in front of the guests. The wine list had a bit more than 110 different wines but all Grand Cru Classes from Medoc, the left and right side of this period (today more than 600 different wines). And the wine cellar is still the most beautiful I ever have seen from Hotels around the world. Here I learned overall to be a better waiter but moreover to become a better person too. The kind behaviour of the Management kept me away from being an arrogant person, like you see so often in our days. So I would also like to thank the Families of Kienberger/Dietrich here for the opportunities to become a more rounded person. I worked at the Hotel in 1980 to 1982, 1986 and from 1995 -2001 as Stuebli Chef and as Chef Sommelier.

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Since 2008 I have been the Chef Sommelier of the St. Regis Bali Resort and the Manager for the service in one of the best Restaurants in Indonesia, the Kayuputi Fine Dining Venue. I say the best because once you see the place, the view, the ambiance, the dishes, the events and especially from my side, the wine list (for 7 years it is the only restaurant in Indonesia with the Best of Award of Excellence in a row). It is from these facts that may recognise this place as truly one of the best addresses in the country. Nobody is perfect even when you try very hard and this is what I learned most from here. It is not the perfect dish or the greatest wine and glass which makes a good Restaurant. It is the people who work there, the heart-warming friendliness you will feel here is something you will remember for the rest of your life, I believe. So let’s say thank you to my colleagues and all the people who work in the St. Regis Bali Resort, also the Management of St. Regis worldwide and especially to the owner Family Sondakh who are wine lovers and who motivate me everyday since my first day.

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Other notable Restaurants and Hotels that I have worked with before are listed below below. At each one there is something unique and helped me to become what I am today. A real Waiter with the knowledge of Dishes, Banquet, Flambé, Tranche, Service Styles, Management Tools, experience in peoples character in the world and overall the general wine knowledge.

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So what do I think after 45 years of being a waiter, bearing tin mind that being a Sommelier in my opinion is just a part of the work of a waiter? A guest did ask me this not long ago after having heard one of my poems. “What is it you are look forward to now?” And spontaneously I answered, “Actually to become a good father”. After all I have two sons at the age of 7 and 10 years old.

Yes, it has been 45 Years of commitments to my passion but nothing is over just yet.

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