Paul Robineau Young Sommelier of the Year

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 Young Sommelier 2020Paul 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:

melania gerard basset trophy winnerCoveted 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

Ellie Shaw Young Chef of the YearYoung 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

 

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As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.

 

 

Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!

 

Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.

 

Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.

 

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.

 

Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch. 

 

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