These are very tough times for the hospitality industry so it is a real pleasure to post news that hints towards an eventual return to normality. The British hospitality scene draws on talents from all walks of life and this competition highlights some of the greatest rising stars.
Young sommeliers and chefs from all over the country had battled their way through to the finals back in early March, and the winners were due to be announced at a glittering dinner at the Dorchester later that month. But then came Lockdown and the summer restrictions on gatherings. Finally, at a pared-down party at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot this week, their achievements were recognised.
Young Sommelier of the Year, Paul Robineau:
Paul Robineau takes the 2020 Young Sommelier Of The Year Award 2020 (Cheine GB)
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‘I am so happy to hear the news at last.. I was third in the competition last year, so feel very honoured to come top this time.’ Robineau, now 27 and originally from a wine-making family in the Loire, fell in love with the restaurant world while studying viticulture in Burgundy.
After a spell in Australia, he knew he wanted to work in an English -speaking country, so in 2017 joined The Fat Duck under the tutelage of renowned sommelier Isa Bal. ‘He took me under his wing and taught me so much about the business’ Paul recalls.
A year at 2 Michelin star Moor Hall in Lancashire followed, working under Alex Freguin, before returning south to The Dorchester - from where he took part in the Chaine Young Sommelier contests.
A month ago, Paul was appointed Head Sommelier at 110 de Taillevent, famous for its wine pairings by the glass. ‘It’s been quite a journey’, he says ’Three years ago I knew nothing about restaurants and how to carry a tray properly – and now I am sitting the Master Sommelier exams, with one part already passed’!
The winner of the Gerard Basset Trophy:
Coveted Best Taster, Gerard Basset Trophy goes to Melania Battiston
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The memory of Gerard Basset shines brightly across the industry and is commemorated with its’ own trophy for the Best Taster. Basset was a huge supporter of rising talents and of the Chaine in particular. To be awarded the Gerard Basset Trophy is a huge honour.
The Gerard Basset Trophy was awarded to Melania Battiston of Medlar in Chelsea, London.
Persevering through the pandemic:
Thank goodness we had completed the finals before lockdown in March’, commented Phillip Evins, Bailli Délégué for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB.’ The challenge then for us was to organise a suitable occasion where the prizes could be presented in person, and the winners’ achievements could be celebrated. In Ellie and Paul we have two very worthy winners - indicative of the amazing talent we see in our young professionals today. On behalf of all the members of the Chaine in this country, we salute them’
I would also like to thank our judges for all their time and commitment, and our generous donors, Bidfood, Gaggenau and Zwiesel without whom these long-standing competitions would not be able to take place, and lastly, Pennyhill Park for their superb luncheon, created specially for the Awards occasion’.
Congratulations to all young chefs and sommeliers
Young Chef Of The Year Goes To Ellie Shaw, Clink Restaurant, HMP Brixton.
The Chaine des Rotisseurs GB awarded the prestigious title, Young Chef of the Year to 23 years old Ellie Shaw, Sous Chef Trainer at The Clink Restaurant, HMP Brixton.
The Clink charity trains prisoners in order to reduce reoffending rates and prepare them for a career. Ellie triumphed at Unilever’s Knorr Kitchen, Leatherhead, where she created a show-stopping menu from a list of mystery market ingredients (see below for the menu).
‘This is my first competition,’ she said delightedly. ‘I was happy just to be selected for the final – and was definitely not expecting to win the actual title. When creating this surprise menu, I decided to stick to what I knew, and not overcomplicate anything. So I concentrated on British classics that diners would order in a restaurant.’ Ellie, from Stoke on Trent, originally studied art at college, but then moved south to gain a first-class degree in culinary art at the University of West London. Working for The Clink Restaurant, she says, is not just being a chef, but sharing a passion for food and inspiring inmates in a new career. ‘ It is so worthwhile, and I would like to thank my whole team who have been right behind me from the start of this competition., and will be now as I train for Paris next year. ‘
Ellie beat Eden Allsworth of Cliveden (and runner up in the recent Young National Chef of the Year competition) into second place with Highly Commended to Liam Stofer of Mosimanns.
For readers looking for lockdown inspiration, here is Ellie’s award-winning menu:
- Grilled trout with rillette, crème fraiche, apple and dill oil
- Steak and oyster mushroom pie, caramelised shallots, Savoy cabbage, sage potato tuille & beer sauce
- Apple and ginger crumble, poached rhubarb and orange Chantilly