Head sommelier, Mere restaurant, London
Nominator Monica Galetti, chef-owner, Mere restaurant
Proudest moment "It happened about four weeks after the opening of Mere in 2017. After all the sleepless nights and endless weeks of work without a day off, I realised that the restaurant was full, the customers were happy, the staff loved working with us and everything had paid off."
Greatest inspiration "My parents, who, aged 25, had to take over our little family hotel back home in Austria. They worked so hard while also raising two children and always tried to help us to fulfil our dreams."
Why hospitality is a great career "It's hard work and long hours, but there are people you will meet along the way who will guide and motivate you and open doors you'd never have dreamed about. You'll have good and bad days, but a smile, a gesture, a compliment or even a handshake from a happy customer is reward enough."
Sandra Bein's progression can be defined by two particular career decisions: to train as a sommelier in Austria and to move to London.
In Austria, she had qualified as a diploma sommelier by the age of 21, in half the time it usually takes. She had also worked up to head sommelier at Hotel Schwarz in Mieming, managing a team of eight and a turnover of £1.5m.
The move to Le Gavroche in London was driven by her quest for Michelin-star experience. Within 12 months she was promoted from commis to assistant head sommelier to David Galetti. She then followed David and his wife Monica to Mere as head sommelier and is now helping to manage a 16-strong front of house team.
Mere has given Bein the chance to flex her talents, planning the 200-strong wine list from scratch and bringing in winemakers to create blends to match the food. This has helped drive 400 covers a week, contributing to an annual turnover of £2m, while her adept purchasing decisions have protected the strong 74% margin.
She has also given her time to the House of St Barnabas in Soho Square and Brigade Bar + Kitchen in Tooley Street, devising a wine and sommelier training plan at both sites.
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