Sommelier of the Month - Peter Chan
Sommelier of the Month - Peter Chan
- Name: Peter Chan
- Date of birth: 7th July
- Place of birth: London
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British
My first job was at Trader Vic's at the Hilton Park Lane. I was a bar runner there and I was learning how to make cocktails but I also got to know the wines. It was my job to sort out the bar and the wines, so I was seeing and reading all of these different wine labels, and that's when I really became interested.
I also worked in Guernsey for one year and ran the bar in a restaurant called China Gourmet in St Peter's Port. Afterwards I worked on private yachts as a steward and I would look after up to eight guests at a time. My first season was in the Mediterranean and then Thailand and Malaysia during the winter season.
When I came back to London after working on the yachts, my brother put me in touch with Jason Chan (Marketing Manager at Royal China Group) who told me about a job opportunity at The Royal China Club. That was 11 years ago and I am still here!
The Royal China Club
The Royal China Group consists of six of London's most authentic and prestigious Chinese restaurants, including the luxurious and critically-acclaimed Royal China Club. The restaurants are based in prime areas of London including Baker Street, Bayswater, Fulham, Harrow-on-the-Hill and Canary Wharf.
Royal China Club is the premium restaurant within the Royal China Group, offering a first-rate dining experience. The restaurant provides an exclusive experience by combining European ingredients within the authentic Chinese cuisine. The group is renowned for its Dim Sum, which is served daily from Noon until 5pm and includes Steamed Seafood Dumplings with Spicy Sauce; and Pan-fried Fillet of Duck Breast Rolls. Each restaurant has a dedicated Dim Sum Chef, as well as a Head Chef.
The restaurant has an extensive wine list of over 100 bins, plus a fine wine section. A vast tea menu features a range of 40 different teas, which are stored in a traditional Chinese tea chest situated behind the bar. The dining area seats 86 guests, while an elegant private banqueting room to the rear of the restaurant accommodates up to 22 guests.
Royal China Club was awarded the three-tier Pagoda Trophy, the highest accolade possible, at the Legacy of Taste Awards. Royal China Club also features in the Michelin Must See Guide, Time Out, Square Meal, Zagat and many others.
Peter Chan is Head Sommelier and Bar Manager at the Royal China Club. It is Peter's role to organise the wine list for the restaurant and discuss dishes with the chef in order to create a suitable wine list. Peter is also in charge of training the staff on service as well as wine. As well as working on the restaurant floor as sommelier, Peter also works on reception to meet and greet diners.
Peter's wine and food pairings
Buddha Jump Over The Wall (Slow cook soup with mixed wind-dried seafood & smoked ham)
Pair with a Dry Sherry
There's a story behind this traditional Chinese soup: The name of the soup comes from the story of a monk who is meditating and fasting. He can smell the aroma of the fragrant soup and jumps over the wall just to eat the soup. The monk says the soup was so good that even Buddha would jump over the wall to eat it.
Hamilton-Russell Pinot Noir
We had the seal of approval from Mr Russell for this pairing when he dined here!
(Royal China Club has a large aquarium containing lobsters, crabs, fish and seafood.)
What do you think makes a great sommelier?
Firstly you need to know your wines!
You should always advise your clients on what wine to pair with their dishes but you also need to listen to what they want. Their wine suggestion may not match the dish they have ordered but you should never refuse their decision.
Describe your typical day at work.
I arrive at work at 10.45am and begin the day by cleaning and setting up the bar ready for service at Noon.
In the evening I am mainly on the floor advising about wines until about 11pm.
When pairing 'Chef's' dishes with wines, what defines the process for you?
It can be hard choosing wine as Chinese cuisine is all about sharing! There are lots of flavours and dishes. For example one table may order a Schzuen chilli dish as well as Mild steamed fish, and both pair with completely different wines.
I regularly sit with the chef to go over new dishes so that I can recommend suitable wines to diners.
Please describe your process for sourcing new wines.
We go on trips to France and Italy to visit the wineries and source new wines.
We also take on board any feedback from customers. Our clientèle is well travelled so they often tell us about the amazing wines that they have tried across the world. We have a fantastic supplier so we are able to get hold of most of the wines they suggest.
What trends have you noticed in the wine market recently?
Many people like white wine too cold. Many believe you have to chill white wine far longer than you should and drink it way too cold. White wine should be chilled to 7-10 degrees centigrade.
You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Do you have a favourite food and wine pairing?
Cote du Boeuf and Amarone.
And a most unusual food and wine pairing?
Poached salmon with wasabi dip and Sangiovese (which has to be chilled!)
How can customers get the best out of you? What should they be prepared to tell you and what questions should they ask?
They should tell me what they normally drink and what they have ordered. From here I can find a wine to suit their dish but a wine that is also similar to their favourite.
Who is the one person you'd most like to share a bottle of wine with?
Jason Chan - he is my best friend at work! We have worked together at Royal China for over 11 years!
How can budding wine enthusiasts practice their tasting skills at home? Any games, tricks, or tips?
You should always ask wine enthusiasts lots of questions as we love to educate!
Where do you see your future career path?
I would love to win the lottery!
I am really happy here at Royal China Club.