Sommelier, Clara Restaurant
Born in the southwest of France, in the town of Brive-la-gaillarde, Théo Laverne knew from an early age that he wanted to be in the hospitality industry. Almost every week his parents – who would probably be called “foodies” these days – took him out dining. “Not like Michelin star restaurants,” he interjects, “but they wanted me to taste real restaurant food, not junk food or just typical food for children.”
By 14 he was working part time in a local restaurant, and by 15 he’d enrolled in the hospitality course at nearby Lycée René Cassin. As part of his school’s practical training periods, he worked for a time at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bordeaux, where he befriended the sommelier. One weekend he was taken to a fancy tasting event, which became a very memorable – and inspiring – introduction to the world of top-tier wines. Upon completing his hospitality studies, he applied to the prestigious Ecole de Sommellerie de Tain l’hermitage, where he finished his Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) level 3 by the time he was 19.
For trainee sommeliers at Tain l’hermitage, holidays are spent working. For Théo that included stints at the three-michelinstarred Maison Troisgros in Ouches, followed the next year by six months in England with Eric Zwiebel, one of the top sommeliers in the world. After graduation he relocated to Paris and spent the next two years at the two-michelin-starred Le Clarence. Interestingly, the call that lured him to Bangkok came from an old Tain l’hermitage alumni acquaintance who was then working as the F&B director of VIE Hotel. Théo was brought in as part of the pre-opening team at Signature Restaurant, helmed by acclaimed French chef Thierry Drapeau. And since Covid had effectively decimated the restaurant scene in France, the decision to relocate to Thailand in October of 2020, after having just turned 23, was both daring and practical.
Due to subsequent Covid lockdowns and other circumstances, Théo left Signature and joined the team at Clara in March, 2021. In his exciting new role he has already created marvelously inventive course-by-course wine pairings for chef Christian Martena’s superlative tasting menus, while his overall restocking of the cellar – putting an emphasis on boutique and exclusive producers, and biodynamic, organic, and natural wines – means those dining à la carte also have some stellar vinos to choose from.
“For me, each label in the set menu pairing is a bit different. One might be more focused on the soil and terroir, while another is maybe more focused on the aroma and texture, rather than the palate. It’s not just a classic wine tasting, but more of an experience.”