WHO'S THE BOSS Christian Vanneque (1949 – 2015)
Christian Vannequé, who lived a full and joyful life, died on January 9th 2015 in Bali at the age of 65, after a short illness. He leaves behind many thousands of people across three continents who call him friend, and hundreds of thousands of more than satisfied clients and customers from almost fifty years as sommelier and restaurateur in some of the world’s top restaurants and culinary institutions. Perhaps most significantly, to hundreds of colleagues and employees, Christian was a kind, generous and highly professional mentor. He started at the top of his profession and, continuing in excellence for nearly fifty years, left us having made the world around him a happier place.
From humble beginnings as a child of members of the French Radio Circus, the son of a ballerina and a trumpet playing band-leader, his teens were spent with his fathers’ parents who owned and ran a famous country inn near Nancy, France, L’Hostellerie de la Côte Noiriel. At the time it was the only 3 Michelin-Fork restaurant in the region and it was here that he first developed his abiding, life-long love of wine and interest in the business.
With the intention of learning the trade to assist his grandparents, Christian began work in 1967 as an assistant cellar man at the world famous 3 Michelin-Star La Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris. His natural talents were unmistakable and, after only three years, at the age of 20, he became the youngest head sommelier in France. For ten years, he was responsible for the largest restaurant wine cellar in the world, heading a team of fourteen sommeliers and cellar men and over the years, Christian was commended with numerous awards and honors.
During this time, Christian joined Steven Spurrier’s L’Académie du Vin in Paris as a professor and consultant and was a judge at the historic May 24, 1976 Paris Wine Tasting, ‘The Judgment of Paris’, which was, perhaps, the most significant event in the 20th Century in the world of wine.
Over the next thirty years, Christian opened several restaurants of his own in Paris and New York as well as managing and consulting for some of the most prestigious establishments in California including The Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills, L’Orangerie and Jack Nicholson’s private club – Helena’s – in Los Angeles, as well as the Givenchy Resort & Spa in Palm Springs.
In 2001 Christian came to Bali to visit his brother and, as many of us do, he quickly fell in love with the island. He created Bali’s seminal guide book, Best Bets, a guide to the best restaurants, bars and shopping in Bali, cementing friendships and relationships with the top members of the Bali F&B trade.
In 2008 Christian returned to his roots with the creation of Sip Wine Bar in Seminyak. An instant success, the superb cuisine and most extensive wine list in Bali have made it one of the top restaurants in Indonesia. Christian spent a great deal of time and effort making Sip his flagship restaurant. His abiding passion for great wines and fine food, attention to the smallest details and infectious enthusiasm to transmit his knowledge to his staff, have created a lasting legacy which honours his memory.
Confident that the restaurant will continue to uphold the excellence we have all enjoyed, and to provide continuity of employment for his staff, the restaurant will remain a treasured feature of the ‘Seminyak Strip’, and will be managed by the board of trustees. With master chef Patrick Chauchereau at the helm in the kitchens and general manager Putra Puniasa firmly gripping the reins in front of house, Sip stands tribute to Christian’s vision and the small piece of Paris he created in Seminyak.
Christian Vannequé was a gentle and unassuming man who left the party far too soon. He brought joy to those whose lives he touched and his quiet demeanour masked the immense expertise of a person at the top of his field.
Christian’s family and close friends celebrated his life and honored his passing in a private ceremony in Palasari-Negara, Bali on Sunday, January 11th but there will be a public celebration of his life at a mass on February 9th at the Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier, Jl. Kartika Plaza 107, Kuta at 6pm. All are welcome to attend.