Esmé Groenewald

Gaining some experience as a waiter during high school Esmé, as so many of us do, paid her way through a degree in Psychology by working as a waiter in local coffee shops. Unlike most, she soon found herself enjoying and dedicating more time to the restaurant business than focusing on Psychology.

On leaving university she started the slow climb up the ranks of the SA Food and Wine industry. First working as a waiter then barlady and by the age of 23 as a restaurant manager. By 24 she was the general manager for Primi Piatti in Somerset West where her almost infectious likeability and ability to make people happy started to pay off. Within months the struggling restaurant was full and within two years it was one of the highest grossing outlets in the franchise chain.

Seeking to hone her skills in more upmarket establishments herself and partner Barry moved through the Cape Winelands, studying wine, managing restaurants and functions on wine estates before settling at the highly acclaimed and Top Ten rated, Terroir Restaurant on Kleine Zalze Wine Estate. Knocking of Cape Wine Academy and WSET courses one by one, while building a comprehensive wine program and managing the restaurant Esmé spent the next two years fine tuning the front of house.

It wasn’t long before word got out and soon she was approached by Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House Hotel, seeking a new sommelier and a face for the restaurant.

Esmé has since moved on to become the second full time employee for SOMM where she currently manages the administrative contract for the South African Sommelier Association, while organizing the schedules of four very busy partners and acts as project manager for the Tasting Room which we run in association with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.

Esmé has an understanding of the nuts and bolts behind running a hospitality enterprise that one can only gain by working in every position imaginable, in every style of outlet from hotel to coffee shop, fine dining to burger joint and everything in between for over a decade. She sees problems long before they arise and knows how to solve them before they cost you money.