Arvid Rosengren, ASI Best Sommelier in the World 2016 and Star Wine List partner, was recently elected director of the ASI (The international sommelier association) Sommeliers Contest Commission. Here he discusses his priorities for the role.
Congrats on your new role Arvid, what does the job mean?
”Thank you! The role essentially means that I’ll oversee the creation of the tests, the juries and structure of the upcoming competitions. It’s a role that has been absent since the illness and passing of Gérard Basset.”
What are the priorities for you when it comes to the ASI competitions going forward?
”There are several. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel in any way, but there are some aspects of our times that we have to face up to. First, there is more material to study out there than ever, with videos of competition, conferences and professional coaches. It used to be that candidates ’learned by doing’ to a greater extent. Today you can learn a lot by watching others online, so we’re seeing rookie candidates show up with a lot more skill and knowledge than before. Which is great! But given the nature and limitations of the competitions, we only have a few days to find the best candidate. So, we need to figure out ways to get more granular, expose the candidates to more tricky scenarios and hard tests to find those who are worthy of the title.”
”The second is related, the competitions are public, live-streamed across the world. Of course, our job isn’t to make a fancy production with fireworks and choreography, but it would be foolish to miss the opportunity to promote the organisation and the occupation to the world. So we have to do a better job of creating competitions that are exciting and impressive, yet fair and challenging.”
”Lastly, we have to incorporate a greater sense of transparency. Of course, there will be tricky parts of the competitions, a lot of what we are judging is how the candidates react in scenarios that aren’t perfect (just like they often aren’t in a restaurant). But there should be no doubt in the candidate's mind when they exit a test whether they understood the task and did well or not.”
The previous chair of the committee was Gerard Basset who passed away earlier this year. What will you keep from his way of doing it?
”Gérard was an incredibly passionate and generous man. He always had the best of the candidates in mind. That I will keep.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
”I look forward to this opportunity. The Sommelier community around the globe is fantastic and I hope I can live up to their expectations.”