Yesterday South African sommelier Gareth Ferreira of 67 Pall Mall in London was named as the winner of the first South African Sommelier Association Sommelier of the Year competition. He won against ten nominees, and two Finalists, being wine consultant Jean Vincent Ridon and Joakim Blackadder of The Hoghouse.
From Facebook we could pick up that nominations for the competition had also been received from Manuel Cabello from Ellerman House, Roxan Waldeck from Delaire Graff, Ralph Reynolds from Karibu, Marvin Gwese of the Cape Grace, Jeanette Clarke of Ex-Amino, Denis Garret from Benguela on Main, and Spencer Fondaumiere of Burrata.
The competition was held at The Taj Cape Town. The panel of judges included Deputy General Secretary of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale and the President of the Sommeliers of Morocco, Michele Chantome; Best Sommelier of Sweden 1986, Hans Astrom; and Chairman of the South African Sommelier Association Neil Grant. The Best Sommelier of the World 2010, Gerard Basset MW, set some of the questions.
Gareth Ferreira came to Cape Town especially from London to compete for the title. After working at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples Florida he began his wine career at the Ritz-Carlton in Doha Qatar. In 2010 he returned home, working at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg, as Assistant Food & Beverage Manager and then as Hotel Sommelier, during which time he passed the certified sommelier exam with the Court of Master sommeliers. He represented South Africa at the Chaine des Rotisseurs international sommelier competition in Athens, Greece. Then he moved to Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, during which time he passed the Advanced Sommelier exam with the Court of Master sommeliers. He returned to the Saxon Hotel as Head Sommelier & Beverage Manager, whereafter he moved to Michelin-starred Launceston Place Restaurant in London, and was promoted to Head Sommelier after six months. Now he works at 67 Pall Mall, a wine-focused private members’ club.
The competition will be held biennally, and is open to South African citizens who are members of the Sommelier Association, with at least three years wine service experience. Gareth will represent our country in the Best Sommelier of the World competition in Mendoza in Argentina in April. A tough requirement was that the local winner must participate in the competition in a language recognised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale that is not is/her home language. The international Sommelier Competition is held every three years, and a total of 56 sommeliers will compete for the title of ‘Best Sommelier of the World‘.
Neil Grant, Chairman of the local Sommelier Association, said about the competition: ‘As an organisation intent on raising the standard of beverage service in the local hospitality industry, SASA is delighted to launch the Best Sommelier of South Africa Competition. The intention is to test the art of the sommelier, not just wine knowledge or the ability to recognise a wine when tasted blind, but the ability to engage the client, the technicality of the service, the knowledge of all beverages, and food and wine pairing.’
South African Sommelier Association, www.sommeliers.org.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here