Rajan Rengasamy from Spinneys in the United Arab Emirates has won the first Sake Sommelier of the Year title.
The competition, arranged by the Sake Sommelier Association and the Academy of Food & Wine Service, took place today at the Westbury hotel in London.
In second place was Barry McCaughley of Chotto Matte in London, while Sam Tse from the Hong Kong Wine Academy was third.
Jonathan Beagle from the Yashin Sushi & Bar in London, and Jean-Louis Naveilhan from Sumosan, also in London, made it to the semi-finals.
Among the tasks that the three finalists had to undertake were a written test, an individual presentation, a scenario test, a service task that involved recommending sake to a customer who was not familiar with it, a food pairing test, and a blind tasting.
As the winner, Rengasamy receives a fully-funded trip to Kyoto and Hyogo in Japan to take the five-day Sake Sommelier Association Advanced Sake Sommelier course.
Xavier Chapelou, director of the London-based Sake Sommelier Association said: "Although the standard of competitors was exceedingly high, Rajan's knowledge and skill made him stand out as a top class sake sommelier. He was cool under pressure and was able to clearly demonstrate his service skills and sake knowledge.
Rengasamy commented: "Winning the competition is a huge sense of relief, but I am also very proud. Even though I was the winner, I still feel that I can learn so much more about sake."
Judges of the competition included: Chapelou; Kumiko Ohta, of the Sake Sommelier Association; Ronan Sayburn MS, the 1998 Sommelier of the Year winner; Sayaka Watanabe, the Arts Club front of house operations manager; Francois Ginther from Partridges of Sloane Square; Laura Rhys MS, 2009 Sommelier of the Year winner; David Leroy, owner of Chisou restaurant; and Prem Anand J Rao, family butler.
The competition was sponsored by sake producer Gekkeikan.
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Three of five Sake Sommelier of Year finalists based in London >>