10 Questions with Olly Smith, the man behind The Glass House, P&O Cruises—
With new food and wine menus launching at The Glass House, we catch up with wine expert and P&O Cruises Food Hero Olly Smith to hear about his zest for life, both on board and off
When did you realise that wine would become your lifelong passion?
It was when I tasted a bargain bottle of white wine at a free tasting in Oddbins South Clerk Street, Edinburgh. I was a student and there was a white wine made by the Lurton Brothers from the little-known Terret grape for a little over three pounds that blew my mind.
I couldn’t stop asking questions about it. Why did it taste like a citrus laser-blast? Would it have been different if it had been made by someone else? What food would it pair with? And how does every bottle of wine uniquely reflect the place it comes from and the people who make it? I realised that with wine, nature and mankind are united in something delicious that makes you feel like snacking and dancing at the same time – for me, life doesn’t get much better than that.
Lots of people love wine but don’t know much about it. What basic advice would you give to take their appreciation to the next level?
Anyone can learn to taste wine. If a wine is well made, the flavours will linger for longer once you’ve sipped it. But the most important thing is to embrace your passion for particular flavours and places – just as we all love different books, bands and TV shows, wines appeal uniquely to each of us individually.
What do you feel you’ve accomplished in your time so far as a P&O Cruises Food Hero? What are you most proud of?
Sharing wine with informality and enthusiasm across multiple generations and backgrounds is a joy. P&O Cruises feels like family. I love diving in with the guests on holiday as much as with my team behind the scenes. Wine is about enjoyment, and if I’ve managed to pour even a single extra sip of extra enjoyment to brighten someone’s time on board, then I’m delighted.
The wine and food menus at The Glass House have recently been refreshed. Why was this an exciting endeavour for you?
Developing a new wine list gave me the chance to show the new frontier of flavour from hidden corners of the wine world, which is always great. To then be given the opportunity to tailor the dishes and drinks as one gives the chance of multiple moments of engagement for all our guests.
Where should first-time visitors to The Glass House start?
If you’ve not been to The Glass House, take your time, find your favourite seat and let the menu and my team guide you. We’ve laid out all the menus by style, so if you prefer bright zesty flavours to heavy rich spices, we can easily lead you to the first glass of many on board.
What are some of your favourite P&O Cruises ports of call and why?
I have a soft spot for Lisbon. There’s a restaurant there called Bom Jardim where they do outrageously tasty piri piri roast chicken. But, if you really pushed me, I’d say Madeira. It’s warm, the wines are unique and the people are incredible.
What’s your favourite thing to do on board in your spare time?
If there’s a chance to eat in Sindhu, the fine dining restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, I’m there. Atul is a great friend and I love his dishes just as much as the man himself.
When you’re off duty and on shore, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love walking and nature, so any chance to embrace a tranquil corner and admire a view is perfect for me.
For your last supper, what ultimate food pairing would you choose?
English sparkling wine with fish and chips. You can’t beat the taste of home.
If you weren’t a wine expert, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be a scriptwriter. I used to write scripts for Pingu and Charlie and Lola, so I’d probably have continued writing for children’s animations for TV and film.
For more details on The Glass House, click here.
Olly will be starring on board a number of Food Heroes cruises in 2018. Click here for more info.