Three of the five finalists of the first ever Sake Sommelier of the Year awards to held outside Japan are based in UK restaurants and bars, it was revealed today.
Shortlisted frommore than 50 entries from all over the world, including across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, finalists Barry McCaughley (from Chotto Matte, London), Jean-Louis Naveilhan (Sumosan, London) and Jonathan Beagle (Yashin Sushi and Bar, London) are all working in restaurants in the UK's capital.
The other finalists were Rajan Rengasamy (Spinneys, UAE) and Sam Tse (Hong Kong Wine Academy, Hong Kong).
The five names were revealed today ahead of the finals of the newly-launched competition from the Academy of Food & Wine Service, in association with London-based Sake Somelier Association and sponsor and sake producer Gekkeikan.
Chosen from entries including a questionnaire and two essay-based questions, with sommeliers with the highest score making it through to the semi-final, the finalists will compete in the semi-final and final at the Westbury Hotel from 2pm on 11 November. Tasks will include a presentation, food pairing test, a service task and a blind tasting.
Winners will scoop an all-inclusive trip to Japan, plus a five-day Advanced Sake Sommelier course with the Sake Sommelier Association.
The Sake Sommelier Association is the only organisation that offers an education in sake in the UK. To become sake sommeliers, candidates need to pass both the Introductory Sake Professional and Certified Sake Sommelier courses.
A staple of Japanese dining, sake and its traditions are undeniably popular in London, with Japanese-Asian-fusion-style restaurants Chotto Matte, Koya Bar and Flesh & Buns just some of the names adding to established brands such as Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Kimchee and Zuma.
Tickets to the Sake Sommelier of the Year finals event can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org.