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definition of Sommelier

CHRISTIAN VASSILEV

SOMMELIER, MANTRA

The journey from Bulgaria to Boston is a long one, but getting there has been half the fun for Christian Vassilev of Mantra, Boston’s hot new restaurant.

Introduced to diluted table wine by his father at the age of six, Christian followed his hunger for wine knowledge from Canada to California, before arriving in Boston just before the Millenium.

Christian left his family home in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1990 and landed on the west coast of Canada, where that region’s expansive wine market made him curious to learn more about the elixir he calls "not just a beverage but a culture."

He trained formally at the Court of Master Sommelier, and found work in a series of top-rated dining rooms in both Relais & Chateaux and Preferred hotels, including Sooke Harbor House. He rose through the ranks, from bartender to maitre d’hotel, gaining confidence in his wine and people instincts along the way. Naturally, at one point, Christian went to Napa, where he completed the Sterling School hospitality program.

By 1996, virtually every restaurant that Christian was affiliated with had won a Wine Spectator Award, and Wine Trader magazine was calling Christian "one of the top five sommeliers in the U.S."

In 1999, he was beckoned to Boston to open The Federalist at XV Beacon, whose spirit program rapidly earned it a Wine Spectator Grand Award. But the lure (and lore) of a ground-breaking new restaurant drew Christian to Mantra, for the opportunity to match wits with a menu of French-Indian cuisine.

"The marriage of New England ingredients, classic French cooking techniques, and a wide ranging palate of Indian herbs and spices makes choosing wines for Mantra the challenge of a lifetime," says Christian," but challenges are what life is all about, right ?"

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