Guest Blog: Kavita Devi Faiella
Many years ago, I read what is still one of my favourite books – The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. In one section of the book, one of the main characters, Laura, a student studying art history in Rome is attempting to post a letter and wondering why such a simple task can be such drama in Italy. The simple answer is that in Italy, if it isn’t a drama, it’s not worth doing. And hence, the mechanism of their daily life is a unique amalgam of order found in chaos and beauty abounds. From the opera to the table, beauty can be found in every facet of Italian life, even posting a letter.
Prior to my personal discovery of buffalo mozzarella and tiramisu, I was studying to be a doctor in Sydney, Australia, the city I still call home today. Having realised that the reality of becoming a doctor was far from that of the many episodes of ER I had watched while studying at high school, I was struggling at university and decided to defer for six months and travel.
I went to live with family friends in the town of Cervia on the Adriatic coast in the region of Italy known as Emilia Romagna. These friends whom I will treasure forever, also owned a wine bar which they very kindly allowed me to work in. Una birra picola – a small beer - was my first lesson, followed by un bichieri di vino – a glass of wine. I learnt a fundamental lesson that I still think of every time I write a wine list today, and that is good wine does not have to be expensive. It is the people that your share it with who complete the experience and make it memorable.
I went back to Sydney with a newfound appreciation of food and wine and wonderful memories of magical moments spent around the table. I began working with Stefano Manfredi, one of Australia’s most renowned Italian chefs and found that I enjoyed being in the restaurant much more than the lecture theatres of university. I told my mother that I no longer wanted to be a pediatrician. That I had discovered that there was a legitimate role in a restaurant of a person whose sole responsibility was to look after the wine – a sommelier? It sounded too good to be true, but I began my studies there and I have never looked back since.
I have spent the last seven years living and working in Asia, as the head sommelier of the Conrad property in the Maldives, to the regional cellar master of Aman Resorts, and today, where I find myself at what seems to be the centre of the wine world, in Hong Kong.
Within my wine lists and in the restaurant I believe that my most important role is that of a storyteller, I am very privileged to be the final link in the chain that brings wine from the vineyard to the winemaker and finally to you at the table, a place where I feel most at home. I look forward to sharing many of these stories and experiences with you. Hopefully, this way you will get an insight into not only what I do everyday, but why I do it and who I am.