ANAHEIM, Calif. – March 25, 2008 – Master Sommelier Michael Jordan oversees an intensive wine education program at the Disneyland Resort that has elevated the quality of service in the past seven years and coached more than 280 cast members to the status of “Level 1” sommelier or higher. One of Jordan’s students even matched his teacher this year by soaring to the elite distinction of “Master Sommelier.”
Jordan, the general manager of Napa Rose restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, has collected a bevy of awards while developing this exclusive program. This past year, the culinary world has recognized Jordan and the Disneyland Resort with some especially exceptional honors:
In the fall of 2007, Jordan earned the coveted title of Master Sommelier, the highest distinction awarded by the international Court of Master Sommeliers, recognizing professionalism and abilities in the service of wine, spirits and beverages.
In February, Napa Rose server Steven Poe earned his own Master Sommelier diploma, the first student from Jordan's innovative training program to pass the rigorous Master exam.
Also in February, Napa Rose earned the Disneyland Resort's first nomination for a James Beard Foundation award - the equivalent of an Oscar in Hollywood. Napa Rose, one of 20 nominees for Wine Service, is the only Southern California restaurant in this category.
In March, the Southern California Restaurant Writers named Jordan “Manager of the Year” for the Southland, honoring his commitment to service and quality at Napa Rose.
Jordan designed and initiated the sommelier training program in 2001, drawing on extensive research and a lifetime of restaurant expertise. As the training program has grown, a Disneyland Resort tradition of excellence in wine knowledge and service has grown with it. Jordan educates students with a comprehensive curriculum that includes growing regions and sub-regions, grape varietals and growing methods, winemaking and serving – including wine and food pairing.
The general public has a rare opportunity to learn from the Master during Disney's California Food and Wine Festival, which runs April 11- May 5 at Disney's California Adventure. Jordan will teach a class, "Taste Wine Like an Expert," on Sundays – April 13, April 20, April 27 and May 4. Each class is limited to 50 guests and the fee is $45 per person. The course is designed to introduce the joys of wine tasting to Disneyland Resort guests. (The April 13 class is sold out.)
Guests attending Jordan's classes at Disney's California Food and Wine Festival will be sampling the exclusive insights he brings to the food and beverage team of the Disneyland Resort. Over a period of six months, he trains students in a wide range of subjects including the types, varietals, taste and characteristics found in every glass of wine – along with the high level of personal service that guests have come to expect and appreciate.
Trained sommeliers work in restaurants throughout the Resort, including Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel, Yamabuki at the Paradise Pier Hotel and the Golden Vine Winery at Disney's California Adventure. At Napa Rose, 41 staff members have achieved at least Level 1 sommelier status – an extreme rarity in the restaurant world.
The Disneyland Resort sommeliers have been recognized by the Court of Master Sommeliers at one of four levels: Introductory or Level 1, Certified, Advanced and Master. Currently, the Resort boasts four recipients of the Advanced sommelier diploma, each of whom is now a Master candidate. Several other servers are set to take the Advanced examination in April, a national event that will be hosted by the Napa Rose. All Advanced candidates have been selected by the Court of Sommeliers admissions committee after a minimum of five years in the wine/service industry
“There were almost no Advanced Sommeliers in Southern California when we started the program,” said Jordan, who manages an award-winning wine list at Napa Rose. “We’ve become a machine of training. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Jordan has one more honor coming his way in 2008: Sommelier of the Year, a distinction that will be awarded in August at the Whitefish Food and Wine Summit, held at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana. The award salutes Jordan’s efforts to nurture the careers of young wine professionals and raise the bar for service in the world of wine and spirits.
One such young professional is Steven Poe, recently recognized as a Master Sommelier. He joins Jordan in an exclusive group numbering just 96 Master Sommeliers in North America and 167 worldwide. Not surprisingly, Poe, who was a waiter at a Claim Jumper restaurant just seven years ago, has been wooed away to become Beverage Director at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach. But he will continue to support Jordan’s educational program, mentoring Disneyland Resort sommelier candidates and helping administer Court of Sommelier examinations.
“When I first interviewed with Michael, seven years ago, he asked me to rate my wine knowledge on a scale of one to ten and I said, ‘About two-and-a-half,’” Poe recalled. “Michael has been my mentor. He has changed my life and the lives of many of us with this program.”
For Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival information and reservations, visit www.disneyland.com/foodandwine.
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03-28-2008, 04:58 PM #1
Unique Disneyland Resort Sommelier Training Program Bears Fruit