Blazon is one of the area’s four master sommeliers, the pinnacle of wine experts certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. There are only 100 master sommeliers in the United States and North America.
Blazon had been with the company 13 years, beginning as general manager at Victoria & Albert’s. He sybolically ended his tenure with the company today by choosing to hand over the “keys to the World” at the Grand Floridian. “Thirteen years was a good run,” he told me today. “I’m leaving in a good place; it’s a good thing.”
After moving from Victoria & Albert’s to open Citricos, Blazon began to develop the company’s wine program, which had the ambitious goal of educating any restaurant server who wished to learn more about wine. Ironically, the introductory course and test were conducted by Blazon and other master sommeliers at California Grill earlier this week. With the number of cast members who passed the test on Tuesday, Blazon says a total of 750 cast members had reached that goal over the years. He did not know how many of those were still with the company, but several have gone on to strive for higher certification.
Update 3/26/09: Rosemary Rose, vice president of food and beverage and merchandise, has also left the company, but contrary to prior information, Rose resigned last week to accept an executive position with Strayer Education.
“It’s going to be a much different company,” Blazon said. But he added he hopes they will continue to offer the wine education programs.
Among Blazon’s accomplishmenst was the wine cellar at Jiko –The Cooking Place, which boasts the largest collection of South African wines in North America, and the more recently opened Wave, which features a wine list made up almost entirely of wines with Stelvin, or screwcap, closures, a popular feature among conservationists.