Terri Dell is the general manager of Brookmans Park in Hertfordshire, part of Peach Pubs. She tells Lisa Jenkins how Wine & Spirit Education Trust training and her Acorn Award has helped boost her career, skills and morale
Where does your interest in wine come from?
It started when I was working for another pub group and they thought it was important to have their managers trained to a high level in wine knowledge. I had an incredible tutor for my level three WSET, Kev Sambrook, and he really inspired me.
I have since travelled all over the world in pursuit of more understanding, including living in Australia for a while and working in vineyards there. Some Peachy people and I headed to South Africa to blend our own wines, which now feature on every Peach Pub wine list.
How does the WSET level three compare to the previous two levels of WSET training?
It is certainly more intense, with a greater focus on viticulture, specific regions and tasting wines with clarity. The blind tasting section is particularly interesting as we have to attempt to adapt our palates into alignment before the exam so we can identify the same flavours.
Has Peach Pubs supported your training?
Massively so. From the very beginning, my passion has been nurtured, whether that be trips abroad or training sessions with suppliers.
Wine is so important in the Peach culture, and our ‘wine guardians' have to be well prepared to pass the knowledge on to the rest of the team and the guest.
How have you applied what you've learned with WSET to Brookmans, and what are the benefits?
Our goal is to be the best gastropub company on the planet, and it helps to get into the details of our wines with our guests. I'm much more confident at sharing my knowledge having done the WSET courses.
Would you recommend WSET training for staff at all levels?
Very much so. There are multiple levels with entry points whatever your current knowledge.
Since winning your Acorn in 2019 how has your job changed?
My job is about the guest, so the learning and connections I gained through the Acorn Awards and WSET benefit the people I serve. I've taken my knowledge and shared it with my team, helping them to develop. I think the most exciting part of my career would come if a member of my team was also lucky enough to be awarded an Acorn.
Has winning an Acorn had a positive impact on your career?
Winning an Acorn gave me a greater self-confidence. Having been part of the whole Acorn experience and meeting a peer group of inspirational people has allowed me to be more certain of myself and my choices, which in turn benefits the team and guests.
What advice would you give to other young managers wanting to advance their careers in pubs?
While you are still young, work as hard as you can because it will always pay off. The days can be long and sometimes it feels a bit tough, but it really is all worth it, especially when you see members of your team succeeding or guests having their days made by your business. Hospitality will never be easy, but it can be phenomenally rewarding.
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