As the IWSC opens the Emerging Talent Awards for another year, we catch up with some of our 2022 winners to find out what they’ve been up to and for them to share a bit of advice for aspiring Emerging Talent winners.
Today we hear from Daniel Stojcic. Last year Daniel was awarded the award for Emerging Talent in Wine Hospitality.
What was it that attracted you to working in the hospitality industry?
After I had finished school, I went to work as an IT apprentice and worked in that field for several years. In 2011 I left Vienna to live abroad and continue to work in IT. After a year and a half of living in Belfast and working with SONY, I had a lot of customers from Japan and Germany and I felt my English did not improve as well as I had hoped so that’s when I applied to work in a restaurant with no experience, in order to force myself to speak English. I had no idea what to expect from the hospitality industry but fell in love immediately and became a passion of mine. I guess you could say that I was attracted to work in hospitality because of the human interaction but little did I know how much of a fire this would ignite in me.
During your career, have you received any mentorship or guidance from anyone and if so, can you share some of the advice they gave you?
Mentorship is very important in any field you are in, and I am very lucky to have a few great people in my life that I can go to and seek advice. The first person would be my wife Louise, who works as an executive coach and due to that, I am fortunate to get professional help from her in how to be a better leader which is a constant evolution and something that I really must work on.
In the wine world itself, I have two people I can always count on their experience and advice. Nina Basset FIH and Dimitri Mesnard MS have become focal points in my career and when I need reassurance and advice when it comes to working in hospitality. Dimitri for example highly encouraged me last year to leave Belfast during the pandemic to try my luck in England and start my first sommelier role. I guess, from a mentor you seek advice and direction and luckily I have these three I can always go back to for that.
Daniel with Hemil Haria, Irem Eren, Sophia Longhi as well as our host Ortis Deley and 2022 President, Johann Krigg at our 2022 Awards Celebration.
The prize for this award is £2,500 bursary. Please explain how you invested this in your continued education?
My initial plan was to go to New York in early September and learn potentially from Aldo Sohm and Pascaline Lepeltier MS for a few days. I had to put this idea on the backburner as I had qualified as a finalist of the Chianti Classico UK Ambassador competition that was held in September and took up a lot of my time to prepare accordingly. Some of the bursary I spent travelling to London and meeting up with fellow sommeliers to study and get better. New York is still going to happen, hopefully soon in 2023.
Since receiving the Emerging Talent in Wine Hospitality, you’ve moved on to a new role. Can you tell us about this and any other changes in the past year you’d like to share?
I have left my previous position as it was time for me to leave for reasons why our industry is often having a negative reputation for. I have started a new role as head sommelier/head of beverage at Whatley Manor. It is by far the biggest place I have worked in, with a couple of restaurants, bars, etc. to look after. A main reason why I joined Whatley Manor was also to learn from Sue Williams MI FIH, to improve my leadership skills and work in a professionally run 5* hotel. Receiving the Emerging Talent is in my opinion a promise you give to the IWSC to improve yourself and try to make an impact in our industry. I managed to win the Chianti Classico UK Ambassador competition which in my eyes was in some ways also proving to the judges that trusting in me was a good decision. I am a highly motivated person, and I want to make an impact on future generations of our industry and show them that with hard work, achievement is possible.
Finally, would you have any advice for the future nominees of the Emerging Talents Award in Wine Hospitality?
Be curious, passionate, and patient about our industry. Success does not come overnight and is a slow, gratifying process. Ask all the questions you want to know the answer to. Also, believe in yourself and trust that everything can be done if you put in all your effort. If there is anything I can help with, reach out to me and we can maybe have a good chat over a glass of wine?
The IWSC Emerging Talent Awards are open until 27 January. Discover more here.