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Copa Jerez crowns UK champions

At the national final of the Copa Jerez in London on Monday, chef Gail Ge’er Li and sommelier Jiachen Lu of Dinings restaurant were crowned champions for their three-course Sherry-inspired menu.

Jiachen Lu (left) and Gail Ge’er (right)

The pair, who work closely together at the izakaya and sushi-focused restaurant in West London, were commended by the judges for how their Japanese-inspired food complemented the fortified wine.

To start, they prepared a cured mackerel starter with a yuzu vinaigrette, olive salsa and shisho mayonnaise, accompanied by a glass of Tio Pepe En Rama from González Byass.

It was unanimously agreed that the main of beef tongue with braised daikon, pickled girolles and dashi rice prepared by Li, paired with Bodegas La Cigarrera Oloroso ‘La Cigarrera’ Palomino, as chosen by Lu, was the dish of the tournament.

And for dessert, they served a ‘Chocolate Nemesis’ (with sansho pepper and miso ice cream) alongside Apostoles 30 Years Old VORS Palo Cortado Muy Viejo.

Judge Patricia de la Puerta, general secretary of the Federación de Bodegas del Marco de Jerez, said: “Today’s competitors showcased the diverse of cuisines available in the UK and this mirrored Sherry wines’ ability to pair with the greatest variety of flavours. Today, Sherry was the winner, thanks to the expertise of all the teams competing today. And now we look forward to the final in Jerez, next October, and to welcoming Gail and Jaichen to compete on the international stage.”

At the international final next year in Jerez de la Frontera, they will be up against competitors from the US, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Spain.

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