A Work Week With Cassie Hu, In-house Sommelier at The Temple House
What it takes to get to the top
I get up at nine am, a little later than most would, because I work the night shift from 3pm to 12pm. I throw together a quick breakfast to start the day – a simple meal of eggs, oatmeal and a glass of milk is my favourite combination because it’s nutritious and healthy. To unwind, I spend a little time reading wine-related books (yes, wine is a lifetime hobby for me!) and practice yoga before getting ready to leave for work at The Temple House. I get to work at 2pm and attend our daily meeting, after which I have two hours to myself to prep for work.
For the rest of my shift, I shuffle between two of The Temple House’s F&B outlets — TIVANO restaurant, an exceptional Italian restaurant, and Jing Bar, a speakeasy style lounge & bar. I start with TIVANO for the first half of the evening, recommending wine from our long list of options (my absolute favourite part), and supporting the team with other matters that they may need my help with. I’m proud to say that earlier this month, TIVANO launched CLUB VINO – a wine club dedicated for wine lovers to get together and this has been so exciting for me as I get to pick wine from around the world for my guests. I love introducing different wines to different people and helping them find one they resonate with and enjoy.
I hop to Jing Bar afterwards and do a little of the same. The best part about working here, is that it’s so convenient to grab a drink before heading home. I usually order a tipple from Jing to reward myself after a long day at work, and then I get home and it’s lights out for me by 2am.
Today I am focused on staff training. It’s important to us that everyone in the team shares a common passion for wine. Training is important, and also a great way to get new team members introduced and interested in wine – I also make sure that they’re ready to take on any questions or requests about wine from our guests in the event I’m away, to ensure that our guests get the same quality of service from my team members as they would from me. During the training, I prepare wine samples for my team members, and have them taste it and talk about the story of the winery that produced the wine, its many unique selling points and intriguing facts, and most importantly, how to serve the wine.
On Wednesdays, I dedicate some headspace to brainstorming new ideas for the following weeks to keep things engaging and interesting at The Temple House. On our Wednesday meetings, I share new ideas with the team for wine plans, events and promotions that we can carry out at TIVANO and Jing Bar for the next few weeks – I really enjoy this part of my job, especially when I see guests taking part in events that I have planned. For example, as part of CLUB VINO, TIVANO hosts fun monthly experiences with wine pairing menus that I am a part of like Casino Blind Tasting Night.
Thursday’s a bit of a mix of everything. Aside from just selecting wine for guests, I also look into updating the wine menu to ensure that we have a relevant and eclectic selection of wines. I also check the wine cellar to ensure everything’s in order, inspect and clean our wine glasses and go through the inventory. I also spend some time making sure we’re keeping to the budget for each month, and arranging everything needed for our wine events at The Temple House.
It’s Friday! This is the day of the week I set aside to meet suppliers and partners of The Temple House. I love Fridays because I get to taste new wines that we’re thinking of incorporating into the menu. We also look into planning wine events such as tastings, wine dinners, wine parties and master classes. Of course, as usual, I celebrate Friday with a drink at Jing once everything’s wound down.
It’s time to check stock. As a sommelier, I need to ensure we always have enough wine on hand for our daily operations, especially with such a huge wine selection. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to tell a customer we no longer have the wine they’re asking for. For any upcoming events or large parties, I ensure we have enough of the related stock according to what’s been ordered. If wine deliveries get delayed, I come up with back up plans on the spot.
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