Ed Clarke pursues wine sommelier title
Like many residents of Sun Peaks, Ed Clarke got his start in the community working on the mountain as a snowboard instructor, eventually coaching the First Nations Snowboard team. He then took on working at the Sun Peaks Grand and Conference Centre. Six years later he’s worked his way up to lead server at Mantles Restaurant & Lounge where he is now working towards being Sun Peaks’ first snowboard coach and wine pro.
The hotel approached him with the opportunity to pursue further wine education after noticing his passion and commitment to the industry. Jumping at the opportunity, Clarke enrolled in the Wine and Spirits Education Trust level two course in Kelowna, B.C. where he passed with distinction.
“The first course was three full days so it wasn’t super intensive but it was a lot of wine drinking in one day, I think we tried 18 wines every day…it was confusing for the palette a little bit,” he said.
Rob O’Toole, outlet manager at the Sun Peaks Grand, was the one who approached him with the opportunity. He said Clark seemed like a good fit and with a passion for the product and was happy to invest personal time to study and travel for his course.
“He was pretty excited, constantly sending me photos sitting at his dining room table studying,” said O’Toole.
Learning mostly geography in the level two course, Clarke said he was really interested in topography. He explained that a narrow road between two vineyards can be the difference between a high quality of wine and a lesser quality.
“I’m still starting out and learning, I’m sure after a while I’ll become a little bit more snobby about it but at this stage, I don’t think I have a right to, so I’ll just enjoy it all and take it all on board,” said Clarke.
His training allowed him to take on more responsibility including pairing the Chef’s Table meals, working with wine merchants and soon creating the new wine menu.
“At the Sun Peaks Grand we have Chef’s Tables which goes on in the banquets kitchen so there’s this beautiful table and they do private functions five course plated meals. What my role is to do is to correctly pair the wines to each different course. I’ve done two already.”
According to O’Toole, the investment the Sun Peaks Grand and Mantles made in Clarke’s training was a win-win, teaching Clarke valuable skills and increasing their customer service.
“In the bigger scheme of things, it’s about staff retention too. You can go into lots of restaurants and serve and make good money, but is the property investing in you and giving you an opportunity to grow your skill set? For me, that was a big part of it,” said O’Toole.
Planning to attend the level three course in July, Clarke will join Sun Peaks residents Tarrah MacPherson and Daniel Liddy as wine experts. In a previous edition of this article, Tarrah MacPherson’s credentials were misreported. She is a certified Sommelier from the International Sommelier’s Guild and is recognized and in good standing with Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. Liddy is a certified Master Sommelier and Teacher with the International Sommelier Guild for the past 20 years.
SPIN apologizes for any confusion caused by our original article.