Two London sommeliers reach Sake Sommelier of the Year 2014 final
Two London-based sommeliers have made it through to the finals of the Sake Sommelier of the Year contest.
They are Raku Oda from Yashin Ocean House in Kensington, and Miguel A. Hernandez, from HKK in Shoreditch.
Organised by the Academy of Food & Wine Service (AFWS) and the Sake Sommelier Association (SSA), the finals will see six sommeliers from around the world compete for the final title.
As well as those from London, the list includes names from top global restaurants, including Hakkasan and Zuma in Abu Dhabi (UAE), the Origami restaurant in Belvaux (Luxembourg), and the Trump International hotel in Hawaii (USA).
The winner is set to be revealed following the semi-final and final at London's Westbury hotel on 24 November, when the sommeliers will be required to take part in blind tastings, food-matching tests, and correct an error on a sake list.
Just three finalists will go through to the final round. The panel of judges will include hotelier Gerard Basset, previous winner of the World's Best Sommelier competition and a certified sake sommelier himself. Basset was also the inaugural winner of the Wine and Spirit Ambassador award, a new category introduced at the 2014 Cateys in July.
The final prize includes a five-day trip to Japan, worth around £5,000, plus the chance to take the SSA's Advanced Sake Sommelier Course, visiting and working in sake breweries.
After the winner is announced, there will be a ceremonial opening of a sake cask (taru), which includes breaking the lid with a wooden mallet, and pouring sake into cups with a ladle.
The Sake Sommelier of the Year competition is organised by the AFWS in association with the UK-based SSA and sponsor Gekkeikan, one of the world's oldest sake producers.
FULL LIST OF FINALISTS
Jean-Paul Choi, Origami Restaurant, Belvaux, Luxembourg
Deepak Elangovan, Hakkasan Restaurant, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Miguel A. Hernandez, HKK, London, UK
Raku Oda, Yashin Ocean House, London, UK
Noel Pusch, Zuma Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Andrew Rohm, BLT Steak, Trump International Hotel, Hawaii, USA