The Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS) has revealed the 12 finalists of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition, including three from Heston Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred restaurant, the Fat Duck.
The announcement follows four regional heats held this week in London, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol and Manchester, where 60 competitors took part in a series of tasks including a blind tasting, a knowledge questionnaire, a service skills test and a Champagne pour.
The finalists are:
Loic Avril, the Fat Duck, Bray
Arnaud Bardary, Maze Gordon Ramsay, London
Tobias Brauweiler, Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
Remi Cousin, the Fat Duck, Bray
Sergio Dos Santos, Atlantic Hotel, Jersey
Bavand Foroughi, Savoy Grill, London
Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, the Fat Duck, Bray
Jan Konetzki, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London
Kathrine Larsen, Orrery, London
Stephen Raducki, Hotel du Vin, Winchester
Laurent Richet, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
Clement Robert, Medlar Restaurant, London
Sophie Roberts Brown, AFWS executive director, said: "This year the academy's technical director, Gerard Basset, and master sommelier Ronan Sayburn set very hard tasks for our regional finalists.
"But the judging panel were impressed with the high standard and particularly with the 12 that have made it through to the final. With this calibre of finalists it's certain to be a closely fought and exciting event."
The final for the competition, now in its 33rd year, will be held as part of the London International Wine Fair at ExCel on 23 May.
The winner will win a visit to Maison Moët & Chandon, where they will experience a cellar tasting of the Grand Vintage collection hosted by chef de cave Benoît Gouez.
They will also qualify for the European Sommelier of the Year competition, organised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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