Michaël Engelmann

Michaël Engelmann

Michaël Engelmann, Master Sommelier and Wine Director for The Modern of Union Square Hospitality Group in New York, shares his career timeline for up-and-coming talent.

In this industry, there are so many great opportunities. There are not many other jobs where you can work anywhere in the world. Being a sommelier is one of the few jobs that allows you to travel, see and do so much, and meet so many people easily. The opportunity to visit so many places makes me feel very lucky.

I stay inspired in this industry because I’m a competitive person. I think one day I realized that if others can do it, I can do it too. Why not go for it? It is a very competitive industry and even more so in New York. You have to want to always keep being better at what you do; you must continue wanting to improve. If you stop, there are many others who will take your place. It's a lot of work, but it pays off.

Everywhere I've worked I’ve learned and had people help me grow. One of the most valuable lessons I've learned through my experiences is "one mountain at a time". I think many people coming into this industry pursue wine director positions right away. I’ve learned to be a bit more patient and take it as it comes. Curiosity, when it comes to wine, is also very important. I’ve learned a lot from watching what other people do - what to do and what not to do. I’ve always asked a lot of questions.

There are good days and there are days when you have to try a bit harder. During the latter, I’ve learned to keep working and focus on finishing the day. Then go to sleep and the next day is a new day - every day is new and different. I’ve learned that you have to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes leaving work for just half an hour and getting fresh air really helps.

I always ask my team to reflect on themselves and use every day as a life experience. I ask them to talk to me about their last dining experience and reflect on what was great and not so great about the experience - I want them know the importance of the great work they're doing here.

In order to stay educated in this industry, I keep reading, tasting wine, asking questions, and visiting vineyards. I stay curious. I am more and more interested in knowing the why. I think it comes down to wanting to understand, staying curious, and being passionate about growth.

Where I started in Europe, it’s very old school and strict and you quickly learn to respect people, listen, and observe. You show up, work, and keep pushing. I also learned early on in my career that anyone can do it - It’s all about how much you want it. If I want to get somewhere, I need to look at where I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are, where I want to be, and what it will take to get there. When I was 18, I wanted to work at a great restaurant in Paris and I realized that I needed to speak English in order to accomplish that, so I moved overseas and learned English.

The most influential people in my career have taught me that what we do is not just a job - it’s a passion and it’s a lifestyle. We're a part of an industry where we work every night and on weekends. When it comes to a career in wine, and you’re enjoying it on your days off and reading about it voraciously, you do it because you absolutely love it. Wine is an obsession. If you really want to make it, you have to live it and breathe it.

I keep my team inspired and motivated by sharing my excitement. I love wine. It’s a passion and something that’s contagious. When your manager is excited about the wine and the food and the wine producers, his or her enthusiasm ends up being contagious.

Send Us Your Nominations

If you know of any extraordinary food, beverage and hospitality professionals who inspire others through their hard work and leadership, nominate them now!


Join the network and create your free profile
Search industry jobs here

Inspirational Career Timelines

Find your inspiration in the unique career timelines and words of advice these industry leaders have shared.

Tessa Thompson
Career Services Advisor
Institute of Culinary Education

Philippe Bertineau
Executive Chef
Benoit New York

Josh Henderson
Chef and Founder
Huxley Wallace Collective

Carmen Quagliata
Executive Chef
Union Square Cafe and Daily Provisions

Morgan Schick
Creative Director
The Bon Vivants and Trick Dog

Joanne Chang
Chef and Co-Owner
Flour Bakery & Café and Myers+Chang

Travis Swikard
Culinary Director
Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Epicerie Boulud

Dustin Wilson
Master Sommelier and Co-Founder
Verve Wine

Charlotte Voisey
Director of Brand Advocacy
William Grant & Sons USA

Eric Railsback
Partner and Wine Director
Mason Pacific

Sarah Simmons
Chef and Owner
CITY GRIT Hospitality Group, CITY GRIT, Birds & Bubbles, Rise Gourmet Goods & Bakeshop

Chris Cosentino
Chef and Owner
Cockscomb and Acacia House

Matt Alba
Chef de Cuisine
Ad Hoc

Scott Baird
The Bon Vivants

Aggie Chin
Executive Pastry Chef
Rosewood Washington, D.C.

Robert Andreozzi
former Chef de Cuisine
Pizzeria Locale

Benjamin Murray
Chef de Cuisine
Azul at Mandarin Oriental

Adam Nadel
Executive Chef
Casa Apicii

Grant Achatz
Chef and Owner
The Alinea Group

Shelley Lindgren
Co-Owner and Wine Director
A16 and SPQR

Brandon Malzahn
Corporate Pastry Chef
Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants

Michael Paley
Executive Chef
Café No Sé and Central Standard

Dan Snowden
Executive Chef
Bad Hunter

Yehuda Sichel
Executive Chef
Abe Fisher

Josh Harris
The Bon Vivants

Peter Hoglund
Director of Operations and Partner
Frasca Food and Wine

Rhonda Crosson
Head Baker

Christie Dufault
Wine Instructor and Beverage Instructor
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

Dan Kluger
Chef and Owner
Loring Place

Daniel Rose
Executive Chef and Partner
Le Coucou

Simon King
General Manager
The Modern

Alex Seidel
Executive Chef, Proprietor and Farmer
Mercantile dining & provision, Fruition Restaurant and Fruition Farms Dairy & Creamery

Wendy Kallergis
President and CEO
Greater Miami Beaches and Hotel Association

Michael Anthony
Executive Chef / Partner
Gramercy Tavern & Untitled

Edouardo Jordan
Executive Chef and Owner
Salare Restaurant

Anthony Strong
Executive Chef
Delfina Group

Laurent Gras
Owner and Chef
LGRAS Consulting

Barbara Lynch
Chef and Owner
Barbara Lynch Gruppo

Angela Neri
General Manager
Alfred's Steakhouse

Shawn Cirkiel
Executive Chef and Owner
Parkside Projects

Jennifer Carroll
Executive Chef and Partner

Cynthia Billeaud
VP of Operations & Human Resources
Mina Group

Gunnar Karl Gíslason
Executive Chef
Agern Restaurant

Alessandra Altieri
Director of Bouchon Bakery
Thomas Keller Restaurant Group

James Briscione
Director of Culinary Development
The Institute of Culinary Education

Jean François Bruel
Executive Chef

Aniedra Nichols
Chef and Managing Partner
Fish N Beer

Tavel Bristol-Joseph
Pastry Chef / Partner
Emmer & Rye

Amanda Cohen
Dirt Candy

Nick Anderer
Executive Chef/Partner
Maialino and Marta

Charlie Parker
Executive Chef

Jamie Bissonnette
Chef / Partner
Toro & Coppa

Vilma Mazaite

Roxanne Spruance
Executive Chef and Owner

Gary Obligacion
Director of Operations
The Alinea Group

Diane Yang
Executive Pastry Chef
Spoon and Stable

Matthew McClure
Executive Chef
The Hive

Jeremy Sewall
Chef / Partner
Lineage Restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34 Fort Point, Row 34 Portsmouth

Jonathan Deutsch
Professor of Culinary Arts and Food Science
Drexel University, Center for Hospitality and Sport Management

Katie Bell
General Manager
Agern Restaurant

Anita Lo
Executive Chef / Owner

Bryan Dayton
Proprietor/Beverage Director
Oak at Fourteenth and Acorn

Chris Flint
Chef de Cuisine
Eleven Madison Park

Monica Glass
Corporate Pastry Chef
Starr Catering Group

Daniel Toral
Wine Director
50 Eggs Inc.

Eddy Leroux
Chef de Cuisine

Anthony Chittum
Executive Chef / Partner
Iron Gate Restaurant

Kevin Fink
Emmer & Rye

Kim Floresca
Co-Executive Chef
[ONE] Restaurant

Timothy Hollingsworth
Owner / Chef
Otium and Barrel & Ashes

John Ragan
Master Sommelier, Director of Wine and Restaurant Operations
Union Square Hospitality Group

Aaron Bludorn
Executive Chef
Café Boulud

Joseph Yardley
Chef de Cuisine
Agern Restaurant

Eric Korsh
Executive Chef
North End Grill

James Kent
Executive Chef
The NoMad

Chung Chow
Chef de Cuisine / Co-Owner

Vivian Howard
Chef and Student
Chef & The Farmer

Fabio Trabocchi
Chef / Owner
Gruppo FT

Eric Rivera
Former Director of Operations
Huxley Wallace Collective

Mike Solomonov
Chef / Partner
Cook N Solo Restaurants

Jeff Benjamin
Chief Operating Officer
Vetri Family

Anthony Rudolf

Floyd Cardoz
Executive Chef and Partner

Michaël Engelmann
Master Sommelier, Wine Director
The Modern

Gavin Kaysen
Executive Chef / Owner
Spoon and Stable

Jonathan Black
Chef de Cuisine

Pascaline Lepeltier
Master Sommelier, Beverage Director
Rouge Tomate

Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson
Executive Chef/Owner
Frasca Food and Wine

Ghaya Oliveira
Executive Pastry Chef

Bobby Stuckey
Master Sommelier, Wine Director / Owner
Frasca Food and Wine

Erik Desjarlais
Designer, Seamster & Leatherworker
Weft & Warp

Abram Bissell
Executive Chef
The Modern

Johnny Iuzzini
Executive Pastry Chef and Owner
Sugar Fueled Inc

DLynn Proctor
Winemaking Ambassador
Penfolds, Americas

Carlton McCoy
Master Sommelier, Wine Director
The Little Nell

Pierre Siue
General Manager

Sabato Sagaria
Master Sommelier, Chief Restaurant Officer
Union Square Hospitality Group

Melissa Walnock
Lecturing Instructor / Pastry Chef
The Culinary Institute of America

Jeffrey Porter
Beverage Director
Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group

AJ Schaller
Former Executive Chef
Corkbuzz Wine Studio

Jason Franey
Executive Chef
Restaurant 1833

Nelson Daquip
Wine and Spirits Director
Canlis Restaurant

Jason Neve
Culinary Director
B&B Hospitality Group

Joe Campanale
Former Executive Beverage Director/Co-Founder
Epicurean Management Company

Erling Wu-Bower
Chef de Cuisine
Nico Osteria

Sylva Senat
Former Executive Chef
Tashan Restaurant

Raj Vaidya
Head Sommelier

Cesar Gutierrez
Executive Sous Chef

Chris Baggetta
Director of Prestige Accounts
Pacific Wine and Spirits

Nadine Donovan
Executive Pastry Chef
Old Major

Kevin Doherty
Executive Chef
Delaware North Companies Sportservice at TD Garden

Graceanne Jordan
Former Director of Operations
Craft Restaurant Group

Jeff Katz
General manager
Del Posto and La Sirena

Donald Madia
Owner and Partner
One Off Hospitality Group

Alex Wolf
Director of Restaurants
Restaurants by Jean-Georges

Norman Van Aken
Executive Chef and Owner

Matthew Ridgway
Executive Chef
The Southern Gentleman and Gypsy Kitchen