67 Pall Mall head sommelier Terry Kandylis has been named the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2016.
Kandylis won after beating Mash London head sommelier Jess Kildetoft and Olivier Marie, head sommelier at Coq d'Argent, in a close fought final at the Mandarin Oriental hotel today.
Kildetoft was placed second, while Marie was third in the competition, organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS) and The Caterer, and sponsored by Moët & Chandon Champagne.
Commenting on his win, Kandylis said: "It has been an amazing journey. I wouldn't have imagined something like this when I came to the UK six years ago. I would like to thank my friends and team because without them I wouldn't be here. It has been a great learning process."
At the beginning of the day 12 sommeliers completed three tests, before being reduced to six. After more assessments, the six were whittled down to final three, who competed in the grand final.
They were submitted to a gruelling three-hour competition in front of an audience of invited guests and a judging panel chaired by Gerard Basset winner of the 2010 Best Sommelier in the World competition and the recipient of the inaugural Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award at the 2014 Cateys.
As part of the competition the finalists were required to inspect a wine list and identify a number of errors (that were not to do with spelling or pricing); undergo a blind taste test, as well as describing and identifying them, identify four spirits served in black glasses, serve three tables of former winners in a restaurant role play situation, and finally to pour a magnum of Moët & Chandon Champagne into 16 glasses.
Each of the finalists showed different strengths but the judges, including Eric Zwiebel from Summer Lodge and Roger Jones from the Harrow at Little Bedwyn, chose Kandylis as the overall winner.
Having won, Kandylis will benefit from mentoring programme and an all-expenses-paid educational trip to one of Europe's top vineyards provided by Matthew Clark, and a Coravin wine preservation system.
The 12 semi-finalists were:
Serdar Balkaya, head sommelier, Royal Automobile Club
Ladislav Basta, head sommelier, the Kitchin
Romain Bourger, head sommelier, the Vineyard at Stockcross
Mathias Camilleri, head sommelier, the Five Fields restaurant
Tamas Czinki, head sommelier, Northcote
Remi Fischer, head sommelier, Old Course hotel
Terry Kandylis, head sommelier, 67 Pall Mall
Jess Kildetoft, head sommelier, Mash London
Olivier Marie, head sommelier, Coq d'Argent
Christopher Parker, assistant head sommelier, Lime Wood
Petri Pentikainen, sommelier & assistant restaurant manager, the Three Chimneys restaurant
Niels Sluiman, assistant head sommelier, Restaurant Sat Bains
The Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2016 is also supported by AA, AdVini, BaxterStorey, Coravin, Hildon, Matthew Clark, Nespresso and Winterhalter.
Now in their 37th year, the awards are run by the Academy of the Food and Wine Service (AFWS) and The Caterer, and is internationally recognised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI). They seek to find the best wine waiter or sommelier based on wine and spirits knowledge, and front of house beverage skills.