From winning titles; Best Sommelier of the World (Gérard Basset, Class of 2009), Sake Sommelier of the Year (Joshua Kalinan, Class of 2011) to drinks purchasing for the Jason Atherton group (Laure Patry, Class of 2009) and judging international competitions (Christine Parkinson, Class of 2010) becoming a Sake Sommelier opens the door to many new opportunities and experiences. Some leave so inspired they go on to create their own sake-related companies such as Maximilian Fritzsch CEO of Tokuri, Germany (Class of 2013) and Oliver Hilton-Johnson founder of Tengu Sake (Class of 2011).
Recognised as one of the world’s leading non-Japanese Sake experts, Xavier has built an encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese sake through his experience in both retail and fine restaurant consultancy. Learning from sake professionals firsthand in breweries deepened his knowledge and appreciation of sake. In 2004 Xavier became one of the first non-Japanese sake specialists. His passion for learning spread into teaching, driven by an ambition to pass his knowledge to others. With this goal in mind, he co-founded the Sake Sommelier Association (SSA). His efforts were noticed by prestigious drinks magazine Imbibe when in 2013 he was nominated for “Educator of the Year”.
Kumiko grew up in Japan surrounded by rice fields and sake-brewing culture. Driven by a thirst to know more she began visiting numerous breweries. This culminated in her becoming an Authorised Sake Lecturer, obtaining the Higher Certificate in Sake Education. Since relocating to the UK, Kumiko has tirelessly championed sake. A co-founder of the Sake Sommelier Association, her efforts where recognised by Nikkei in 2008 when she received the prestigious “woman of the year” title. Since then she has redoubled her efforts, constantly looking for new ways to showcase and promote sake. Kumiko is a co-founder of the Sake Sommelier Association.