Gabrielle Webster, whose wine lists have been awarded Best Wine Bar List at the Australian Wine List of the Year Awards in 2016 and 2017, is now the head sommelier at iconic Bondi Beach restaurant Icebergs. “I feel like I’ve come full circle, as I was working for Maurice Terzini [director at Icebergs] and Rachel Duffy [general manager] right before I went off on my wine journey,” Webster says.
Beginning her career as a waiter, Webster was working at North Bondi Italian Food when she was offered the assistant sommelier position at Sydney’s Astral Restaurant (now closed) by Mark Ward. She owes her foray in to wine to Ward and Peter Bell. “To be honest, at the time, I didn’t really know anything about wine. I truly believed I wouldn’t get the job. But I did, and Peter took me under his wing and taught me about everything.”
Webster is currently working on a new wine list for Icebergs, with a vision for it to be as global as possible, while still having a strong Italian backbone and a good showcase of Australian wines. “We have a huge tourist clientele and I think it’s our job to show them how excellent the wines currently being made in this country are. I also have a love of organic and biodynamic farming so I’m working on making that a normal part of the list.”
Alex Prichard was recently made head chef at Icebergs, which coincided with Webster's start at the famed Bondi Beach eatery. This has meant working closely with Prichard as he changes the whole tasting menu, and working on new wine and food pairings. “Presently, I think the best match is burrata with Clos Clare Riesling. It’s so delicious in its simplicity.”
And at home? “I became a sucker for meat and red wine this past winter. Think Burgundy and wagyu or if I’m a bit skint, sausages and Beaujolais.”