ne of my favorite lessons when
Leave the familiar behind and be creative
training staff is to encourage them to
practice change, just for the sake of it.
Few of us like the feelings that accompany
change; they are uncomfortable and we
are creatures who prefer the security and
comfort of habit, even though those
habits can be a little boring.
So whenever I conduct one of my cus-
tomer care training sessions with a group,
I ask them to sit in a different position
after every break or interactive exercise.
They hate this at first because inevitably
they want to sit next to the people they
work with. So the servers are on one side
of the room, the housekeepers on another.
Mixing them up, however, is an essential
part of the learning and as the day goes
on, they start to become more comfort-
able with the uncomfortableness of this
Are you perhaps guilty of always drinking
the same style of wine or the same cocktail,
spirit or beer? While it is completely
natural to have favorites, it can open up
untold new experiences and pleasure if
occasionally you dive into the unknown,
the untested, the uncomfortable.
I have fallen into this trap, here in the
British Virgin Islands where I've been living
for the last six months. The bartenders or
sommelier automatically brings me a glass
of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc when-
ever I sit for dinner. I willingly accept it as
this New Zealand crisp, dry wine is very
good in both quality and value. However,
it occurred to me the other day after re-
turning from a short trip to Paris that I am
missing out on so many opportunities by
sticking to the tried and tested.
It had been a long time since I visited
the French capital and I’d forgotten just
how vibrant and exciting it is. So I jumped
right back into enjoying delicacies that I
hadn't tasted in a very long time. Braised
lamb's kidneys; cervelas (a smoked and
boiled sausage); confit of duck (a whole
leg cooked slowly for hours in its own fat);
Leffe beer made by monks; red Chinon
wine from the Loire Valley; Calvados
(apple brandy from Normandy); quenelles
of pike (fluffy, poached fish mousse); the
butteriest croissants; and a gratin of pota-
toes with smoked salmon. How wonderful
it felt to eat and drink different things. I
realized that I have become a creature of
habit, in some ways through circumstance,
but in others through laziness.
Now when I dine in the resort restaurant,
I ask the wait staff to surprise me. Maybe
it is a wine on our list or perhaps a sample
brought in by a local distributor. Perhaps it
is a fish from one of the (disappointingly
few) local fishermen. This has now become
a game. Can I identify what I'm eating and
drinking? Can I tell the grape, the country
or the region, whether it is a local or
imported fish or vegetable?
In playing this little game, everyone is
If variety really is the spice of life, I’ll
This Paris street scene captures some would-be diners considering a new restaurant. In other words,
possibly breaking habits.
learning, our knowledge is growing and
we are all getting more used to change. I
still enjoy the Kim Crawford, but I am also
trying other wines and dishes, ingredients,
sauces and preparations.
drink (anything) to that! ;;
Originally from England, Stephen Beaumont
lived in Wisconsin for 10 years before relocating
to the British Virgin Islands. He is a Certified
Wine Educator, a designation that requires
extensive knowledge and tasting skills.