Sommelier spat out

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A top Queenstown wine sommelier has been made redundant by celebrity chef Josh Emett’s restaurant chain.

Candice Chow’s been group beverage manager for Emett’s Madam Woo and Hawker & Roll restaurants for the past three years as well as Queenstown’s Rata which she joined six years ago.

Hong Kong-raised Chow, who’s had 15 years’ experience, was the only Kiwi sommelier out of 18 invited to a New Zealand-hosted international ‘Sommit’ this year. She’s shocked to have been suddenly laid off this week.

“For a leading company like this, I didn’t expect it, and I’ve been with the company for so long.”

While noting that Rata’s been down over May and June, she believes the problem’s more to do with trading around NZ, and Christchurch in particular – Dunedin’s Madam Woo shut down early this year due to “skilled labour shortages”.

Chow, who’s enjoyed an outpouring of support since her redundancy, says she’s likely to do some wine consultancy – “I think there are still lots of opportunities”.

In a website interview this year, she says staff turnover’s one of the wine industry’s main challenges.

A response from restaurant chain CEO Fleur Caulton, who’s on leave, hadn’t arrived by deadline.

– PHILIP CHANDLER