Gerard Basset MW MS has been putting his mark on the UK hospitality industry ever since he first came to this country as a fresh faced culinary student in the early 1980s. This week it was the turn of the French to recognise all the achievements he has made promoting his country’s wines in the country he has made home.
Such are his list of achievements the biggest challenge for anyone writing about Gerard Basset is knowing the order in which you are supposed to list what he has been awarded. To play safe I have followed his guide on his own website, but they really do make a highly impressive line up: OBE, MW, MS, MBA, OIV MSc. Or as Basset described them to me last year as “my career grand slam!”
Combined they Illustrate the enormous impact he has had on the hospitality, restaurant, hotel, wine and sommelier professions he has followed through his career. What makes those awards even more remarkable is that he has achieved them all working overseas, in the UK, and away from his homeland in France.
It is one thing making a name for yourself and gaining the respect and admiration of your peers at home. It is quite another doing so in another country.
Which brings us to the latest award that Basset received during a ceremony this week. Having notched up every conceivable title there is in the UK, it was only fitting that his own country would mark his career by bestowing on him the ‘Ordre du Mérite Agricole’ an award that dates right back to 1883 and is second only to the Legion d’Honneur in importance in France. It was fitting that the French Ambassador to Britain, M. Jean-Pierre Jouye, was able to present the Ordre to Basset personally.
It also helps serve as a considerable boost to Basset, who has been receiving treatment for cancer over recent months, and who was able to accept the award along with his wife, Nina at the event at London’s W8 restaurant.
Basset said: “It is always humbling to have one’s work acknowledged and I am truly honoured to receive the ‘Mérite Agricole’ today. Whilst I owe much of my success to my beloved, adoptive country and I am very proud to hold dual French and British nationality, I never forget that I was born and raised in France, so it is an enormous privilege to be bestowed with this commendation.”
Basset has been living in the UK since the early 1980s when he first came to initially work as a waiter at the Crown hotel in the New Forest, before being promoted to sommelier. From where he has progressed to become not only one of the most respected sommeliers in the world, achieving his goal of being the Best Sommelier in the World in 2010, but enjoyed great success as a hotelier. First helping to build up the Hotel du Vin chain and then Hotel Terravina that he still runs with Nina in the heart of the New Forest, his true British home. You can read our recent profile on his career here.
He was not the only member of the UK wine trade receiving the Ordre du Mérite Agricole this week. Congratulations also go to Edward Squires, co-founder of Dedicated Wines, left centre, Stephen Browett, chairman of Farr Vintners, right, and wine consultant and PR, Anne Burchett, who like Basset has moved from France to make her name and career in the UK. All were praised for the work they have done individually to promote and support the French wine industry.