Confucius said “choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life”. It is this leitmotiv that French Cameroonian Carole Etoungou Onana lives by and thrives in the wine industry. After a childhood spent in Cameroon, she moved to France and began a career in the cultural field and TV production. “I have always been passionate about the beauty and the power of words, I quickly got interested in the words for wine. When I had the opportunity to taste, meet some of its authors, the winemakers, inhabited by the soul of their vineyards, I decided to join the industry. Joining spirituality and a deep connection to our land, this universe seemed a promise of professional happiness, “she told us.
In 2004, at 39, she leaves the cultural field for school desks and graduates with a CAP restaurant and a Sommellerie Mention. She first joined a company specialized in Mediterranean wines then held the position of Sommelier in several French Michelin-starred restaurants of the South West and Provence. “During these experiences I learned a lot and enjoyed selling exceptional wines, which I knew then only theoretically via books, designing wine pairings complimenting the colors and identity of the Chef’s cuisine. In each region I went to, I met local winemakers to feed my knowledge and passion.” Carole Etoungou Onana, lover of words, is particularly comfortable and delighted during restaurant services when she has the opportunity to interact with customers and recommend wines that will sublimate their meals. She also thinks her African heritage was an asset in her career: “When I came to take an order, I knew that me being Mixed generates a temporary moment of surprise, curiosity and listening; that I would take advantage of ” she jokes. However in the French gastronomic excellence industry it is not all fun and games: “To join a culinary team at the age of 40, working with people who have been evolved there since early youth was difficult. At first I did a lot of mistakes, so I wiped the most scathing, the most ruthless remarks from the Head Waiter or the Chef. Humiliating times, when I had to forget my age and agree to be treated as a beginner, which I was finally. But I’ve always been grateful of these experiences because they enriched my background“. At the same time she developed a project of the heart: Parfum de Femme. Based on the belief that wines have a feminine dimension to them she traveled to meet winemakers in France, draw their portraits and create tasting notes about their wines.
Today, at 50 years old, she left the world of gourmet restaurants, because of the authoritarianism that often prevails, being an independent wine sommelier and feeding her passion through Parfum de Femme and entertainment around wine and spirits. She can thus transmit her passion with the words she loves so much and a tasting of course!
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