As Canada’s first female Master Sommelier, Jennifer Huether plays a dynamic role within the Canadian hospitality and wine industry. From her humble beginnings as a server at the Rosedale Diner, to her celebrated career as the head sommelier for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Prestige Account Manager for Jackson Family Wines. Jennifer worked tirelessly to achieve her dream, all while raising two young children.
My first job ever was… serving pizzas and Italian sandwiches in my home town at 15 years old. I was able to eat for free which was a huge bonus as a kid. I also realized early on how much I enjoyed working with others, and in hospitality.
I chose my career path because… great food and wine are in my blood. It comes naturally to me and never feels like work. I love chatting to people and learning about them, and I also love the complexity of wine. It’s such a deep subject when you start to dive into it, it’s like history you can drink!
My proudest accomplishment is… having my two children and raising them by myself for the last several years. It hasn’t been easy — shout out to all the single moms!
My boldest move to date was… getting a rescue dog, that I knew very little about in December. The weather turned out to be -25°C for a month straight, and I walked her for three hours a day in that weather! It has totally paid off, she is a wonderful addition to our family.
I surprise people when I tell them… my biggest passion is exercising!
My best advice to people starting their career is… I know it has been said so many times, but please do what you love. As Jackson Family Wines’ Master Sommelier, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do what I am passionate about, for a living. When you find something that you enjoy doing every day, that is what you should follow. And work hard! People recognize and reward hard work now very readily because it just has become rare. You will stand out.
My best advice from a mentor was… Deep breaths, concentrate and be present in the moment. It’s so easy to become distracted in today’s world, and when you are sitting for exams that require your olfactory system, you have to be entirely calm and focused or it’s not going to work for you.
I would tell my 20-year old self… Save as much money as possible (RRSP’s)! Put away 20% of your salary if you can, as young as you can start. The younger, the better.
My biggest setback was… failing my Master Sommelier exam (just on the service) because I accidentally pointed the Champagne bottle at someone while fiddling with it. I was five months pregnant and not in a good head space after that at all. I felt like a horrible mom for letting myself get so upset while pregnant.
I overcame it by… having my baby, learning how exactly to properly do service at a Master Sommelier Level by training with several Masters, and going back to pass it! It felt like such a victory.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… meditate while listening to calm music for thirty minutes, then watch something fun on Netflix!
The last book I read was… You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (and I am — sometimes!)
I stay inspired by… my children, they are young and very impressionable right now. I am hoping my drive and passion will sink in.
The future excites me because… there are so many places I have yet to see, some of which with my kids as well. Also, I have a few projects I want to accomplish that I have started to work on and want to see come to life.
My next step is… to focus more on being in the moment with everyone, but especially with my children.