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NEWS: Seamus Dooley from Fairmont Hotels to be Canada’s rep at 2016 La chaine des Rotisseurs International Jeunes Sommeliers competition

Sean Dooley sommelier

Seamus Dooley, sommelier at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, has been selected as Canada’s representative at the upcoming La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs International Jeunes Sommeliers Competition to be held Thursday August 25 and Friday August 26 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Seamus won the national competition held across Canada on April 2, 2016 to qualify to compete in Liechtenstein.

Seamus is a beverage industry professional who joined the hotel industry in 2014, with previous experience in boutique and high-volume retail wine sales, bars, restaurants and event planning.

Currently serving as the Sommelier at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Seamus supervises wine sales and service throughout the properties’ food & beverage operation; plans and conducts wine tastings and seminars for internal staff and external guests; and participates in supplier and industry tastings. Seamus recently received the LQA (Leading Quality Assurance) Outstanding Employee Award recognizing him for his exceptional service. Leading Quality Assurance specializes in providing quality assurance audits, benchmarking analysis and training services to the luxury hospitality industry, enabling their clients to monitor and improve their operating performance.

Prior to joining The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, he was sommelier at Restaurant Le Beaujolais in Banff Alberta, organizing the wine list and training staff in wine and table service. Seamus has also served “on the front lines” in the retail aspect of the industry, serving at Crowfoot Wine & Spirits in Calgary, Alta. As wine consultant, he was responsible for sales, new product selection and placement, hosting wine education and food & wine pairing events, and educating staff on wine and general product knowledge.

The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an international gastronomic society devoted to promoting fine dining and preserving the camaraderie and pleasures of the table. The society has both non-professional “gastronome” and culinary professional members in more than 75 countries around the world.

The International Jeunes Sommeliers Competition, open to young professionals who have a pronounced interest and knowledge of wine and crafted beverages between the ages of 21 and 30, is hosted each year by La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Competitors from around the world are chosen through selection competitions held in their respective countries. Each competitor is tested in three areas: theory, service and blind tasting.

The written theory portion tests deep knowledge in all areas of wine, wine production, laws, viticulture and vinification as well as spirits, beers, ales, ciders, ports and sherry. The service segment is designed to showcase a Contestant’s skill including the decanting of red wine, glass preparation and tray use. Champagne service must display accomplished techniques involving the wine and controlled pouring as well as a gracious, gentle banter throughout with the Judge as diner-consumer. Role-playing is introduced to show poise, competence and professionalism. Contestants are asked questions during the service portion, in which complex menu elements are revealed. Pairing suggestions offering both old and new world alternatives are required. Follow-up questions about grape varietals, vintages, appellations and characteristics demand the professionalism and focus that would be concurrent with fine dining establishments. Blind spirit identification of crafted beverages is another facet of the Competition. Candidates are required to nose between six and twelve samples. The Blind Tasting itself requires assessment by sight, nose and palate of wine colour, age, alcohol content, country of origin and appellation of wines, spirits, beers, ales, ciders, ports and sherry provided by the judges.

The competition is scored in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Court of Master Sommeliers. A panel of international judges, including Master Sommeliers, awards marks for each of the three areas. According to Joseph Girard, Chairman of the Jeunes Sommeliers Competition Committee, “The steady composure that comes with self-confidence in the face of competitive situations can only happen when specialized knowledge is buttressed by passion and a love for the subject. One of the most revealing aspects about the Jeunes Sommeliers Competition was the dedication and skill that emanated from these contestants and witnessing how these young men and women displayed grace under pressure.”