Competitors were asked to showcase sherry in a three-course menu, by using the wine in at least one course and matching different sherries with each dish, cooking over a two-hour time-span. Former winner, Mark Jenkel, who was judging the event, commented on matching puds and sherry: "people just think sweet wine matches sweet desserts and match Pedro Ximénez but for me Moscatel and Oloroso are a better option."
Despite not conforming to Jenkel's guidelines and serving a Pedro Ximénez with their dessert, the winning duo's menu was adjudged to show the best overall skills with a sensible balance of sherry to the chosen dishes and good portion sizing.
They cooked a tortellini of goat's cheese and sweet potato with wild mushrooms infused with sherry and thyme which was presented with a parsnip purée, wilted spinach, and a chive butter sauce and leek oil (matched with Manzanilla La Gitana): a roast cutlet of Staffordshire lamb with garlic and its own pie, accompanied by Savoy cabbage, winter vegetables and a lamb jus (matched with Apostoles Palo Cortado); and to finish a dark chocolate fondant with Seville Orange and yogurt ice-cream, tuille and sherry prunes (matched with Pedro Ximénez).
Collins and Smith will now go on and attempt to duplicate their predecessors by winning the international final of the event later this year in Spain.
By Joanna Wood