Mentored by Modeling

Mar 19, 2016

Mentored by Modeling


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #14
Rite of Passage Five –lower case gourmet–
(1945 to 1949)

Q. Who was your mentor during your discovery phase who has continued to influence you in your adult life?

I could not have been more fortunate in receiving some early attention from a man who influenced a great many wine and food enthusiasts worldwide. Monsieur André Louis Simon was the founder of the International Wine And Food Society. He did this when I was only one-year-old and engaged in a quite different kind of a bottle?

Mr. Simon owned a small country estate “Little Hedgecourt” near my parent’s hotel and it was there that at fifteen years of age we met. I knew of his reputation from my parents; exactly why he decided to share his life with me I shall never know. It wasn’t lengthy but it was certainly meaningful.

André was an enthusiast; he lived his message by being reasonable, moderate and exceedingly well mannered in a courtly fashion that fits the French culture so well. He modeled moderation but never, to my knowledge, railed against excess. He listened more than he spoke. He was a kindly man.

He explained to me one day (while sitting in a rowing boat on his small lake) that he had never taken up cooking the food he was so fond of eating. In his warm very French accent he recounted, “I decided to make a custard. When it had set I prodded it and the fork sprang back into my hand. I decided to stop trying.”

It was André who introduced me to great wines, by a simple sip, and encouraged me to always be engaged when eating…with both food and wine. “The two go so wonderfully together and when in good company the dining experience can be second to none.”

I was able to see this put into action as, day after day, I observed my father’s customers on their search for exactly that kind of enjoyment.

Over the years André and I had several opportunities to reunite. He was always gracious, even more so as he aged. It was during a visit to New Zealand that I had initiated that he mentored by modeling the extraordinary gift of gratitude.

André Simon, a truly great man in the world of fine food and wine, was, in his mid-eighties the perfect guest. He achieved this by being grateful for even the most minor kindness or hospitality he was offered.

Andre Simon

He liked to take a nap each afternoon and during that time he took the opportunity to write a brief thank you note to everyone he had met in the previous 24 hours. André came to our house for dinner during that visit and followed up by writing the introduction to my very first book.

The times we spent together were not lengthy but his gentle example in the midst of so much strident self-promotion has stayed with me over the years.

So…what about now?

André was, and still is, my flash of silver mentor and I would love to be more like him as I move on through the upper reaches of my life. Whilst I no longer consume wine, or alcohol in any form, I chose not to do so, in part, because of Andrés insistence in moderation being the key to avoiding excess and harmful addiction.

He understood that, if moderation was the standard, then excess would soon be obvious. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and so, for those who find it difficult (or impossible) to stop at say two glasses of wine, I decided that I had best not be seen publically (or privately) to continue with my early gifting and understanding of fine wines.

Do I propose that wine drinking or alcohol consumption is wrong? No, I do not –yet, let me once more say that André Simon’s early mentoring and his generous and kindly nature with his urging of moderation were helpful in my personal decisions and my public advice. By all means embrace moderation in all things and be sure to set a carefully thought out limit such as 1 or 2 glasses (8oz) of wine. If you cannot stay within that limit, then please consider seeking some help.


P.S. This week I read Treena’s poem “Waiting


  1. Patti Jean Meehan Says: 1:28 am

    I had no mentor. This is why I am devoted to helping young people.

  2. Jean N Sozio Says: 7:06 am

    “Waiting” – Beautiful words – fabulous. The words of this poem tell of moderation – timing, blending, pairing – God shows us the effectiveness of boundaries – without such is chaos – unbeauty – addiction. Your description of Mr. Simon’s gift of gratitude exudes that of satisfaction. Why are not we satisfied and grateful for a little vs drowning/dieing in overabundance??? God teaches us “all things are available for me but not all things are profitable for me”. Addiction is a trap of youth – immaturity – not having wisdom enough to know the danger and effects of poison and the disguise of its lure. It’s a tightrope walk best avoided at all costs. European cultures introduce children to wine in moderation and as a wonderful ingredient in cooking. I had my first wine bash at 15 and to this day remember the ill effects of being drunk and a hangover. I learned to respect that fermented grape juice for the rest of my life. However some do not – I will never comprehend this – do you not get sick? Feel horrible? I will never understand the repeated pull into this state of destruction vs that of peace, freedom, and joy. My mentors were my older brothers by which through observation I learned what pifalls to bypass in my life. As the Lord also teaches, “I have become wiser than all my teachers”. Also, “bind these around your neck – … and wisdom”. Wisdom is sweeter than honey. Of both wine and honey the Lord teaches, “take a little for your stomach”. Let us pray for wisdom within boundary of moderation and the beauty of grace and gratitude.

  3. Lynn Severance Says: 10:19 am

    What a gift Andre gave to you, Graham, evident in this caring tribute to him. It had to warm his heart to see you as an adult implementing his wise counsel in your own life. I pray you see how you are continuing, in kind, working with “up and coming chefs” to encourage them.

    And this amazing book, chronicling your and Treena’s journey, has been a means for me (and others) to look at the gift of our own years and the special people or events that have inspired. I add in my thanks to you, as well.

  4. Kathy Moon Says: 7:29 am

    I’m so glad that you posted – have been feeling like a fish out of water and it’s just not so as it turns out I am just modeling the French!

  5. Kathy Beebe Says: 9:02 am

    Graham, So enjoyed reading your book! I appreciate your insight and experiences. I appreciate the way you (and Treena) were and are such great models of caring, thoughtful and giving people to those around you. This is rare and a very special quality in our society today. I hope you realize what a gift you are to those around you. I know you have been a mentor to many. What a good and faithful servant. 😉 Kathy

  6. Kevin Yancy Says: 8:00 am

    Thank you for the reminder of moderation brother

    Not only should moderation be the standard, but excesses in anything in this life spark ideologies which distract us from balance and what truly is and should be the center of our lives.

    The fish continue in their cycle in which they were created to complete regardless of the challenges and distractions of their journey. May all of us stay focused on the journey and destiny in which we were created for.

    Blessings to you and your family
    Kevin Yancy

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