Unfiltered: Mathias Camilleri, The Five Fields

Mathias Camilleri is the head sommelier at The Five Fields restaurant in Chelsea, south-west London, which was awarded its first Michelin star in 2016. With an Italian grandfather, a father who was born in Tunisia but who moved to France at an early age, and a Chinese/Singaporean mother, Mathias himself was born in Paris. Initially on the path to becoming a jazz musician, Mathias gravitated towards gastronomy, eventually switching to a catering degree at the Lycée Albert de Mun in Paris. In 2011 he moved to the UK and began working as a commis sommelier at the Vineyard at Stockcross in Newbury. He then joined the sommelier team at Medlar restaurant, where he spent three years working under Clement Robert, now wine buyer for 28-50. In 2015 Mathias became the UK’s Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier of the Year.

Mathias Camilleri, head sommelier, The Five Fields

What’s your vintage?

1987– not a great vintage!

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?

A glass of Cabernet Franc ‘Les Malgagnes’ by Yannick and Benoit Amirault in Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil in the Loire Valley.

What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?

One of my first services as a sommelier four years ago. The situation was a table of two. Guest one was a wine lover, guest two a Master Sommelier. Guest one ordered a bottle of Meursault Meix Chavaux by Jean-Marc Roulot to be served blind. I misunderstood and opened a bottle of Meursault Meix Sous le Château by Jean-Philippe Fichet (another good producer).

It was super embarrassing when the wrong bottle had been revealed. Since then I am always double-confirming an order to avoid such a situation – and Jean-Marc Roulot has been banned from my wine choices (joke).

If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?

I started drinking wine at the age of 22… I would go back to the time I was 15 years old and force myself to drink wines.

Has a wine every given you an epiphany? Which one?

Mouton Rothschild 1945. Considered as the best vintage ever produced by Château Mouton Rothschild, it did not disappoint. A 70-year-old wine and it tasted like a newborn. An immortal moment with an immortal wine.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

I feel sorry when people tell me “We do not drink alcohol”.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

Three people have inspired me:

Frédéric Kaiser, restaurant manager at three Michelin-starred restaurant Epicure in Paris, who was an inspiration of professionalism;

Clement Robert, currently wine buyer for 28-50, was my mentor during my three years at Medlar restaurant;

And Gerard Basset, who is an inspiration for his career and achievements.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

Sushi and Riesling (dry, off-dry)

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

In Paris, under the Eiffel Tower.

If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?

A designer and manufacturer of electric bass guitars.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?

‘Impossible’ is uncompromising… but I am not very keen on orange wines.

Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?

Mick Jagger. He has a huge aura. On stage he is so charismatic and full of energy, but when I served him he was the absolute opposite – a very discreet and simple person. I wished I could have sung ‘Paint in Black’ with him but had to stay professional.


2 Responses to “Unfiltered: Mathias Camilleri, The Five Fields”

  1. Joyce Vaught says:

    Taylor Bonnyman. Congratulations for your choice or Sommeliers for the Five Fields.

  2. Jamie Taylor says:

    Taylor, great to see that you keep adding to your rock star staff.

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