Sommelier Zoltan Szabo of Toronto - Biography
Zoltan Szabo can’t keep wine to himself. After working his way up through restaurant life in his adopted home of Toronto, Zoltan now works together with Chef Tonia Wilson running their company Savour, which gives him the freedom to work the floor at their own events as well as consulting and teaching about wine in a variety of other contexts.
Zoltan came to Canada ten years ago, bringing with him a love of wine rooted in his experiences growing up in the Carpathian Mountains, where his parents made wine. He continued his study of wine while working in restaurants, eventually earning a certification from the International Sommeliers Guild and accolades from several Canadian newspapers and Wine Spectator. The wine list he created and oversees for Il Mulino has been singled out repeatedly for its variety; while it centers on Italian wines to match the restaurant’s fare, it also includes a large, varied, and well-chosen selection of Canadian wines, and other picks from New and Old World alike. Some selections from Hungary touch on his roots and early taste for wine.
Savour, Zoltan’s newest project, gives him great latitude in his work. Its focus is on catering small events – two to 20 people – with wine selection, consultation, and even tastings as part of the package. In-home cooking classes and wine tutorials are also part of their portfolio, as are corporate events. Within the restaurant industry they also help develop menus and winelists; staff training, cellar management, and controlling costs – the behind-the-scenes aspect of sommeliering – are not left out. And when Zoltan wants to get away for a bit, he leads wine tours through Eastern Europe, the Niagara region, and the U.S.
Zoltan hasn’t stopped developing his skills and knowledge. In November he was a finalist in the Best in Ontario Sommelier Championship, and he has set 2005 as the year to begin the Independent Wine Education Guild’s Diploma Program. His eye is fixed on eventually adding the prestigious initials “MS” after his name. As if he weren’t busy enough already.