History & Spirit Educator
Born in a small city near Genova, his journey in hospitality started when he quit university where he was studying to become a professional nurse. After a couple of experiences in cocktail bars, he realised that working in luxury hotel environment could give him the right opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and shape his character. He also joined AIBES in 2010, a very important step in his career as he took part in the “Angelo Zola Competition” for Young Bartenders for 5 years. His first experience was at Excelsior Palace Hotel in Rapallo, not far from Portofino, then in 2011 he moved to Florence where he first took the role of Head Bartender and then Assistant Bar Manager at Westin Excelsior, one of most iconic hotels in the city. As the need and desire to improve himself never ceased, he decided to move to London in 2014 and since then he has worked in luxury establishments such as Ritz, The Lanesborough and Brown’s Hotel. He is currently managing The Baptist Bar at L’oscar London, a brand new luxury boutique hotel created by French-designer Jacques Garcia. In 2015 he joined BarTales as columnist and since then he focused his attention and research on history of bartending.
Hailing from Normandy in France,
Paul started his career near his hometown in Deauville in the Hotel Royal Barriere, at L’Etrier Restaurant, awarded one Michelin star. After two seasons, Paul moved to the Mandarin Oriental Paris as a Responsible Sommelier for the Camelia Restaurant. In 2013, a great opportunity arose giving him the chance to travel to South-Australia and work in famous vineyards and wineries in Mac Laren Vale and Barossa Valley for a year.
Back in Europe with the experiences he acquired, he was hired as Assistant Head Sommelier at the two Michelin star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin and after two more years, Paul felt that he wanted to prefect his education still in the new world but this time in New Zealand. He worked in a speakeasy wine bar in Wellington and in the vineyard operations team at the Tantalus Estate in the heart of the Onetangi Valley on the unique Waiheke Island. Since 2016, he has lived in London where he joined The Lanesborough Hotel, starting as Assistant Head Sommelier and currently leading the team as Head Sommelier.
At The Lanesborough, Paul is in charge of the beverage sales of the Michelin star restaurant, Celeste, he’s also entitled as Wine purchasor for the Hotel. Celeste’s wine list includes 700 references balanced with wines from all over the world.
*Wine List: ‘’Best Award of Excellence 2018’’ from Wine Spectator.
*2019: Winner of the ‘’Gerard Basset Tasting Trophy’’.
*2019: Finalist of the ‘’Taittinger UK Sommelier of the year’’.
*2019,2018,2017: Finalist of The ‘’UK Young Best Sommelier’’.
*2019: Advanced Sommelier, by the Court of Master Sommelier.
Agave Specialist and Spirit Educator, Proximo Spirits
Oli has been with Proximo Spirits for over three years as a Brand Educator for its vast tequila portfolio, mastering the knowledge of 26 varieties of the iconic Mexican Agave-based spirit.
Starting out in an Essex Wetherspoons at just 18 years old, Oli has since gone on to rack up over six years’ experience in some of the world’s top bars including The Living Room, All Star Lanes, Mahiki, The Roadhouse and the grand opening of Japanese Members Club Ramusake in both London and Dubai.
Oli’s passion has allowed him to frequently lend his skills to the Mexican Chamber of Commerce to promote not just tequila but the Mexican culture, art and heritage that surrounds it. He has represented Mexico at several international tasting festivals and is currently travelling around the UK hosting tasting sessions and seminars about Mexico’s most loved spirit.
In his own words, ‘Working with tequila will always be a passion of mine; there is so much room for the category to grow and to be a part of it is incredibly exciting – I look forward to the future of Agave and battling any challenges that come its way.’
The brands that Oli covers are Jose Cuervo including Reserva de la Familia, Gran Centenario, Maestro Dobel, 1800 ranges, plus Agavero liqueur & Mezcal Creyente. A total of 26 different tequilas/mezcal across 6 brands.
Born and raised in Calabria to a Sicilian family, Gianfranco grew up in a small village by the Jonio sea coast. He approached the bar for the first time as a teenager working at the “Lido”, a local beach bar, during his summer term.
After many years of work experience in hotels and resorts throughout Italy, in 2010 he moved to London, making his dreams come true working for one the leading 5* Luxury Hotel companies in the world.
In 2014, he created a project called “Bar Jonio Cocktails” to promote the flavours of Calabria through cocktail production.
Currently you can find Gianfranco and his creations at the Four Season Hotel in Mayfair.
From a young age, I’ve always known I wanted to enter into the field of hospitality. Both my parents were pioneer travel agents in the 70s in
a part of the world destined to become one of the most attractive destinations ever: Brazil. This
amazing environment made up of huge hotels, tours, restaurants and a mix of international cultures gave me no choice but to fall in love with this industry.
Back in Italy, at the age of 13, I decided to attend the professional hospitality studies in Rimini;
followed by a 2-year Masters in Hotel Management. This was the beginning of my 20 years in the
hospitality industry. I initially started in room division, then moved to sales & marketing, and
eventually ended up in what I love most: food & beverage operations. Consequently, the diverse experiences and the management positions I performed over the years, throughout the globe for international companies such as Marriott, Starwood, Kempinski
and Accor, gave me holistic expertise in all the aspects of the business.
In 2013, while I was working at the iconic Westin Excelsior Rome in Banqueting Operations, I
met current A.I.B.E.S. President Angelo Donnaloia and one of its most knowledgeable bartenders;
Luca Di Francia, both of which encouraged me to join the association. Once in A.I.B.E.S, I met a talented and passionate young man at the dawn of his career: Lorenzo Rocci. We immediately
became good friends, and when I learned he was moving to London, I was struck with mixed
feelings: sadness for losing his daily presence, but happiness for the future opportunities he would encounter.
Five years later, my wife and I decided to seek new opportunities in
London. Upon arrival, I joined the JW Marriott Grosvenor House; the largest and most
renowned event venue in central London, as a member of the Banqueting Operations
management team. Throughout the years, Lorenzo and I have been in
constant touch, and when he started to build up this project, I had no hesitation in voicing my enthusiasm for joining him on this adventure. Now here we are, ready to share our knowledge with you and help you achieve your goals and dreams.