Following a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Studies from Manchester University and three years working in recruitment in China, Joanna moved to London to change career and enrol in the Diploma in Wine, Gastronomy and Management at Le Cordon Bleu London.
What is your background?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Studies from Manchester University, which was a four year course, with my third year in China. After graduating I went back to China for three years working in recruitment for Foundation Students. Summer 2014 I moved back to the UK for a change in career and to follow my love for cooking and eating - I’m quite the foodie.
Why did you choose to enrol for Le Cordon Bleu’s Diploma in Wine, Gastronomy and Management?
Well, my boyfriend and I would love to open a restaurant together. He is nearly at the end of his Diplôme de Cuisine, and when we come to open our restaurant we want to be able to offer the full package. Both our courses have made us realise we have made the best decision to follow our dreams.
What has been your biggest learning curve throughout the course?
I came into the course without any prior wine knowledge; all I knew was that I enjoyed drinking it! I remember being asked in my first lesson, what can you smell? And all that went through my head was that it was white wine.
Seeing my progression and now being able to gain so much information about a wine from my nose and palate is so rewarding.
Can you describe a typical day?
We usually start at 11:30 am, and we will finish at 6:00pm four times a week. We have two blocks during this time, one will be wine tasting – where we discover regions and establish differences and the second is more of a theoretical class where we study hospitality and market research.
Seeing my progression and now gaining so much about a wine through my nose and palate is so rewarding.
Has the course improved your confidence when talking to winemakers and other wine professionals?
Yes, absolutely! My first trade tasting was so overwhelming, but at the last two tastings, I had such a lovely conversation with the wine producer and marketing team.
What are your future plans?
To keep reading and learning about wine. Matthieu has taught us all the right magazines, blogs and websites to use to continue our journey.
I really would love to open a restaurant, or maybe even a wine bar. I love dealing with wine - people don’t always enjoy their jobs, but to get to talk to people and advise them on wines they’ve never tried before is so rewarding.
During your course, did you meet a wine professional that inspired you?
Yes, Matthieu Longuère. We had great guest lectures, but Matthieu is by far my biggest influence. It’s been a pleasure to be taught by him.
Would you do the course again?
I would of course! 10 times over if I could.
Have your goals and future plans changed from when you first started the course?
Not really, I set out with a clear goal to learn as much as I could. Both mine and my boyfriend’s courses have reassured us that is the right career moves for us.
Any pieces of advice that you would like to pass on to future or perspective students?
Come with an open mind. You really don’t have to have any prior knowledge about wine. We had a girl come around for a tour when we had a class. She asked me if she has WSET levels 1 and 2, should she do 3 before coming, and I said absolutely no need! Just come and you’ll learn everything you need to know.