Most diners have heard of a sommelier, a trained and knowledgeable wine professional who often works in high-quality restaurants. However, they might not have heard of a cicerone. The term, pronounced "sis-uh-rohn," refers to hospitality professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring and serving a wide range of beers.
In Delaware, Matt Patton is one of the only certified cicerones in the restaurant industry and one of just five in the state. Patton is the beer director for Rehoboth Beach-based SoDel Concepts, which has 10 restaurants.
"We are continually looking for ways to make our company better and improve the dining experience for our guests," said Scott Kammerer, president of SoDel Concepts. "Matt took the initiative to earn this prestigious industry certification, which demonstrates his drive and dedication."
To earn the certification, candidates must know how to keep and serve beer. They must also know about the many styles of beer on the market today and the flavors. They can evaluate the ingredients, and they know about the brewing process. Only those who pass a rigorous exam can claim the title of certified cicerone.
Patton, who is also a director of operations, helps SoDel Concepts general managers and bar managers create a beer list that complements the menu and appeals to the guests. He's also in charge of company's beer education program. At least once a year, he visits each restaurant to teach staff about beer. He also leads a session in the company's regular bootcamp series, which is open to all employees.
"Having an expert in beer on board to craft the menus for each location benefits our employees and our guests," Kammerer said. "Matt is an example of how investing in our people and their development always brings great rewards."
For more information, go to www.sodelconcepts.com.