The Academy of Food & Wine Service Moët UK Sommelier of the Year was won last night by Jan Konetzki of the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
The finalists award the result
Konetzki fought off stiff competition from Laurent Richet from Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, who took second place, and the third-placed Clement Robert of Medlar Restaurant in London.
The tense final, held at the London International Wine Fair for the first time in its 33 year history, took place live on stage in front of an audience which included many previous winners of the title and a judging panel chaired by the 2010 World’s Best Sommelier Gerard Basset MS MW
A number of new elements were introduced this year, with finalists required to identify errors on a wine list, perform an oral blind tasting, complete a role play service test and pour a magnum of Moët Champagne into 16 glasses.
Announcing this year’s winner, Basset emphasised the high quality of this year’s competition, observing to the finalists: “You did sommellerie proud and you must be proud of yourselves.”
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Jan arrived in London five years ago, when he joined the Gordon Ramsay team at Maze. He became head sommelier at Ramsay’s flagship restaurant on Royal Hospital Road 18 months ago.
“It’s very exciting – I’m delighted to have won,” said Konetzki on receiving the award. “I really enjoyed the competition today, there was a real feeling of camaraderie amongst all the sommeliers. It was tough, but it was also fun.”
As this year’s winner, Konetzki has now qualified to represent the UK in the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale European Sommelier of the Year competition in 2013, a year which will also see the return of the triennial World’s Best Sommelier contest. UK candidates for both events will be selected in July.
In total the 2012 competition saw 100 entries, of which 70 were invited to take part in a series of four regional rounds to create a group of 12 finalists. These were whittled down to six before the final three were invited to fight it out in front of the live audience.