Langdon Hall is unique, especially when it comes to wine. Not many places can say they have 1,400 wines from around the world, nor can they say they have a dedicated team of Sommeliers – including Emily Kirsch. “Most places if you’re a sommelier, you also serve or manage,” explains Emily. “At Langdon, we have dedicated Sommeliers who only focus on the wines.” This seems especially necessary when you consider the fact that the wine list is 55 pages long.
“I wouldn’t be so bold as to say I know every single wine on that list,” laughs Emily. “It’s really a team effort. If there’s a wine I don’t know well enough, there’s always someone else on the team who does and vice versa.”
Wine is a hobby for some and for others it is simply a drink to complement a meal. For Emily, it’s a passion. After leaving university, Emily wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do. She began serving before deciding to take a wine class at Niagara College. “They offered this one-off class called ‘Wines 1.’ I realized I could make a career out of it and decided to enroll in the CAPS Sommelier Program at George Brown,” says Emily. For those wondering, CAPS stands for The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.
Emily completed the CAPS program alongside our now Head Sommelier, Jordan Mazzanti. After completing the program, she completed a “stage,” which is essentially an internship, at The York Club.
Over the next few years, Emily worked at some well-known Toronto restaurants alongside the York Club, including The Broadview Hotel and Portland Variety. Emily even moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia for a year and worked as a Sommelier at The Beach Club. Emily will downplay it, but it’s clear the experience she has had over the years has shaped her and her ability to deliver the best guest experience.
After moving back to Ontario, Emily worked as a Sommelier and Manager at The Bruce Hotel in Stratford Ontario. At the same time, she participated in a small tasting group with fellow sommeliers from Stratford, including our own Jordan Mazzanti. “When Covid hit and lockdown began, we moved our wine tasting group online. Once a week we would meet on Zoom and take turns describing the tasting notes of the wine we were drinking, then the rest of the group would try to figure out what was in our glass. A good portion of the time, we got it right,” explains Emily.
Emily was happy with her job, but when a position at Langdon Hall became available, Jordan encouraged Emily to interview for it. Faye, our Wine Director was often praised by Jordan to Emily when they would get together for their tasting group. “Jordan’s constant refrain was, and still is ‘Faye’s the best,’” says Emily.
Emily has been part of the family ever since.
It takes a special kind of person to make you feel so at ease in their presence, but Emily is a natural at it. Our encyclopedia of wines can be daunting for even the biggest of wine enthusiasts, but she makes it approachable. Arguably the best dressed Sommelier out there, Emily has a knack for explaining wines in a simple, easily digestible way and knows how to make a recommendation to suit just about any palate.
And turns out, Faye is the best. “I love the collaborative team environment that Faye has created for the Somm Team. She is the best manager I have worked for, and I am genuinely happy to see her every day,” says Emily. “I mean, she brings her dog to work so there’s not much else you can ask for.”
“I really think morale and the way an employee presents themselves starts from the top,” says Emily. “If the people above you are setting a good example, your work ends up being that much better.”
The way Emily feels about Faye is similar to the way the rest of the team at Langdon Hall feels about her. There isn’t one person that isn’t happy to see her walk in a room. It’s rare that your co-workers feel like family, but that’s the norm here at Langdon Hall. That feeling is fostered by people like Faye, Jordan and Emily. Their team sets the standard.
As for Emily, she sees herself with the Langdon Hall family for quite some time. Next time you have the chance to peruse the wine menu with her, ask her more about Chablis – it’s her favourite type of wine. Cheers!