Born in Montréal, Québec, Élyse Lambert graduated with a degree in hotel management from the prestigious Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) in 1998 and as Sommelier from L’école Hôtelière des Laurentides in 1999.
Her career as a Sommelier began in the Québec Laurentians at the award-winning Relais &Châteaux l’Eau à la Bouche. Her next move was to the Eastern Townships where, from 2000 to 2004, she was an integral member of the sommelier team at Auberge Hatley, a 5 diamond CAA — Relais & Châteaux.
In 2005, she joined the XO restaurant of Hôtel Le St. James in Montréal, where she led the sommelier team until 2008. She went on to build the wine program and was on the opening team of Montreal’s Le Local restaurant in 2008, until 2013, when she joined the sommelier team at The Ritz Carlton Montreal’s Maison Boulud.
She is currently working as a Sommelier Consultant and continues sharing her passion at Radio-Canada’s morning show, Medium Large and as a wine column in Journal de Montreal. Elyse lives in Montreal and consults for private and corporate clients and is often invited to facilitate wine education seminars and to speak at corporate functions in Canada and around the world.
Certified as a Master Sommelier in November 2009, Bruce Wallner MS is the founder and director of Canada’s premier wine educational facility, the Sommelier Factory. Originally designed to help sommeliers prepare for the MS exam and for world competitions, the Sommelier Factory now trains industry professionals to become Certified Sommeliers and has opened its doors to the public to educate and to bring the world of wine to all wine enthusiasts.
In 2000, he was the Chef Sommelier at Palazzo Versace, where he designed and executed a beverage training program that pushed the sommelier profession to the forefront of hospitality in Australia. Shortly after that, Bruce moved to the UK to serve as Chef Sommelier for the legendary Hotel du Vin – the first Sommelier from outside of France to do so. He has helped to establish the Canadian wine service industry as one of the best in the world by serving as captain of Team Canada in international competitions where the country has taken top awards. His downtown Toronto restaurant Grand Cru Deli opened in early 2019.
John Szabo was the first Canadian to add the “MS“ after his name in 2004. He’s seen the hospitality business from all sides, including cooking and washing dishes; serving and sommellerie; importing; teaching; writing; photographing; speaking; emceeing; consulting; and judging wine internationally. He was listed as “Canada’s best-known sommelier” in Meininger”s Wine Business International.
John is a partner and principal critic for WineAlign, and wine columnist for Ricardo, ModaLina, and CityBites Magazines. He writes occasionally for US-based Wine & Spirits Magazine, and has published in dozens of other magazines and newspapers. His books include Pairing Food and Wine For Dummies (Wiley, December 2012), and Sommelier Management (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, Revised Edition 2013). But volcanoes are John’s current fatal attraction. But volcanoes are John’s current fatal attraction; his multi award-winning book, Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power, was released to critical acclaim in October 2016.
John also consults on restaurant beverage programs, from small neighborhood operations to national chains. He counts Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto and the National Arts Centre among many past clients. And to get closer to the land, he is a partner in the small J&J Eger vineyard in Hungary.
Author of Amber Revolution
Simon Woolf is an English wine and drinks writer, currently based in Amsterdam. A well-known commentator on natural, organic, biodynamic and orange wines, he regularly contributes to Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International and many other publications on and offline. His first book Amber Revolution, covering the fall and rise of orange wine, was published in 2018. The New York Times hailed it as one of the year's top five wine books, and it was shortlisted for the André Simon Food and Drink book awards in 2018.
Simon has worked as a musician, sound engineer, IT consultant, and an alternative currency designer. His writing career began in 2011 — nearly accidentally — with the founding of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which has become one of the world’s most respected sources for natural and artisanal wine. He is the Louis Roederer International Wine Writing Awards International Feature Writer of the Year for 2018.
Pier-Alexis has dedicated the past 12 years of his career to providing world-class wine service and enhancing guest experiences in some of the most demanding environments. The journey started in Montréal, and continued to London, England, to Sydney, Australia, to New York City and then to California. He has worked in some of the most prestigious Michelin-starred establishments, such as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, The Modern, and Manresa Restaurant. In 2014, he won the World Young Sommelier of the Year competition held in Copenhagen, where participants from fifteen countries must present their skills under highly competitive, intense and gruelling conditions.
In 2016, he became one of very few to earn the Master Sommelier title before the age of 30, a title held by a total of five individuals in Canada — two in the province of Québec — and 256 worldwide. The Master Sommelier Diploma is one of the most challenging certifications to obtain in the world of wine. Successful candidates must exemplify blind tasting skills, extensive wine knowledge, and outstanding abilities in service and beverage management. In 2017, Pier-Alexis was named Québec’s Best Sommelier by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, and one year later he won Best Sommelier of the Americas by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale amongst 20 participants from 10 countries.
Corporate Beverage Director, Momofuku
Jake Lewis began his path in the wine business at Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston where he was studying with intentions of kitchen service. During university, he was also working at Pappas Grill Steakhouse. The epiphany of a bottle of aged California red shown to him by the restaurant's sommelier and a wine appreciation class changed his focus from the kitchen to wine.
He became a sommelier at Pappas Grill after graduating from the University of Houston. After a brief stint in wine retail, some brewery and beer work, he relocated to Toronto. In 2013, Jake dove back into wine and joined the Momofuku team as the sommelier at Daishō. Eventually, visas expire, and Jake found himself in New York, where he worked as Momofuku's Assistant Beverage Director. He took over the program as Beverage Director in 2016, where he has been instrumental in growing Momofuku's beverage programs across North America.
Jennifer Huether began studying wines 20 years ago when she took a personal interest course at George Brown College. Inspired, she soon pursued further studies and graduated at the top of her class in at the International Sommelier Guild and moved on to earn the Diploma of Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and then accreditation in the Advanced Sommelier Program in London, England. With intensive education and training, Jennifer passed the Court of Master Sommeliers — Master Exams and became Canada's first female Master Sommelier.
She worked for Canadian-owned Cliff Lede Vineyards based in Napa Valley, and for seven years she ran one of Canada's top wine programs at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in Toronto, spanning over six restaurants and overseeing a multi-million dollar beverage program while mentoring 11 Sommeliers. For four years, she worked for Jackson Family Wines.