The Fat Duck's Loic Avril has won the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs 2013 International Young Sommelier of the Year competition.
Mr Avril has worked under maitre sommelier Isa Bal at Heston Blumenthal's restaurant in Bray, and managed to win the position after missing out on it last year. The final, which took place at the French Embassy in Washington DC, saw 11 sommeliers compete in theory, service and blind taste testing. All the sommeliers were aged under 35. Bobby Conroy of the Benu restaurant in San Francisco and Jarrod Mills of Est Restaurant in Sydney, Australia, came second and third respectively.
The sommelier had been mentored by Bal, and Philip and Janet Evins, and then had managed to win the UK finals. His final prize was the title, 1,000 euros from the Peter Jones Memorial Fund, an engraved trophy and a Champagne sabre. It is also a major win for The Fat Duck, which has been recognised for it's excellent service on an international stage.
This will be the third time that Chaine GB finalists have won the accolade, and the team has also secured three second places in the past six years.
Mr Avril said: “It is an honour to have competed against my peers at such a prestigious competition, and of course to have won is just amazing. To be judged on your performance by some of my heroes was the most nerve-racking experience of my life but I just imagined I was at work and tried to keep it together."
Phillip Evins added that the competition is a great way for young people to show off their skills and to receive recognition for their hard work. He stated that a higher number of competitions like this should exist to encourage more young people to work in hospitality jobs.
Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency providing hospitality employment solutions.