María José Sevilla, the doyenne of Spanish food and wine in the UK, has stepped down as Director of Foods & Wines from Spain after 17 years.
Working for the Trade Commission of the Spanish Embassy in the UK for 30 years, the last 17 spent in the role of director, Sevilla has played a pivotal role in the promotion of Spanish food and wine in Britain, and has become known for her tireless enthusiasm and passion.
As part of her role she worked closely with the UK wine trade to flag up Spain’s emerging wine regions, indigenous grapes and dizzying diversity.
A well-known and much loved figure in the trade, Sevilla has written numerous books on food and wine and presented the popular BBC TV series on Spanish cooking, Spain on a Plate, in the ‘90s, which won a Glenfiddich award in 1992.
More recently she appeared in Rick Stein’s Spanish Christmas, which explored the traditions, celebrations and dishes enjoyed in Spain over the festive season.
Sevilla appearing in Rick Stein’s Spanish Christmas
She has also hosted regular press trips to Spain’s lesser-known wine regions to move the Spanish wine conversation on in the UK from Sherry and Rioja.
Sevilla counts being the first Spaniard to pass the WSET diploma as one of the proudest moments in her career.
“María José Sevilla has been at the centre of food and wine from Spain for as long as I care to remember.
“Her enthusiasm for all things Spain, the emerging DOs, the established DOs and the fabulous cornucopia of Spanish cuisine across this fantastic country, is without parallel,” said wine consultant and friend Allan Cheesman.
“María José is the best unofficial ambassador that Spain could ask for, and she’s a lovely lady too,” he added.
Keen to keep working, Sevilla is currently putting the finishing touches on an epic tome on the history of Spanish food and wine, due to be published in the UK this year.
“I’ve loved my work at Foods and Wines from Spain. I have made many friends and have learnt so much along the way. Not only this but I have seen the UK’s attitude to Spanish food and wine change out of all recognition over the last 25 years,” Sevilla said.
“It gives me such pleasure to see how Spain’s chefs, wines and gastronomy are now firmly on the international stage as key movers. I am very much looking forward to working on my own projects, which in some small way I hope will continue this momentum,” she added.
María José Sevilla recently appeared in a db feature profiling the most influential women in the Spanish wine industry.
She officially steps down as Director of Food & Wines from Spain on 31 January.