Head Sommelier – 67 Pall Mall
Kandylis was studying physics at the University of Athens, while working for some of the best restaurants in Greece, when the wine bug bit.
“My inspiration was my cousin, who influenced my first steps and opened the gates for me to discover what is hidden in the wonderful world of wine,” he says. After completing the first three levels of his WSET qualifications in Greece, he moved to the UK, where he landed a position at Heston Blumenthal’s revered gastro-molecular pub The Fat Duck in Bray.
Upon completing his WSET Diploma, he went on to become assistant head sommelier at The Ledbury, before joining private members’ club 67 Pall Mall, where he is today head sommelier, working under the leadership of Ronan Sayburn MS.
“I was lucky enough to work with some of the most respected wine professionals like Ronan Sayburn and The Fat Duck’s Isa Bal, who taught me how to think and how to approach things. I learned a lot and keep on learning from them.”
However, Kandylis counts the late Gerard Basset as his biggest inspiration in the world of wine. “His ethos, humble approach and character is what I call ‘to lead by example’.” A sense of camaraderie among sommeliers, fostered in part by Basset’s support of fresh talent, is one of the reasons that Kandylis enjoys working in London so much. “It’s a community that makes you proud to be part of it,” he says. “An amazing mix of professionals from around the world that strive for perfection and are constantly thirsty for knowledge and excellence.”
That drive for perfection has led Kandylis to achieve a number of career milestones. In 2015 he earned the title of Best Sommelier in Greece, and represented the country in the European final in Vienna in 2017, where he managed to go through to the semi-finals. In 2016, he was crowned the 2016 UK Sommelier of the Year, has passed the advanced level of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam and is currently preparing for his MS Diploma exams. To aspiring sommeliers his advice is simple: “Be prepared for many hours of hard work, patience and lots of study, and if you are persistent and focused on your target, you will be rewarded.”
As for famous faces, the most memorable customer Kandylis has served is none other than Hollywood A-Lister Brad Pitt. “He didn’t care about people looking at him, and enjoyed every bit of his meal. He had fun and was cracking jokes with the staff that were as nervous as the guests around him.”