Sommelier Vanessa Majella Stoltz and chef Ian Waller of The Forest Side hotel and restaurant in the Lake District have scooped the title Gosset Matchmakers 2018.
The final of the annual champagne-and-food-matching competition, held at Le Cordon Bleu London, saw five chef and sommelier teams competing for victory, by devising an original dish to pair with a champagne from the Gosset range.
Their efforts were judged by an imposing panel, including Jean-Pierre Cointreau, the chairman of Champagne Gosset; Matthieu Longuère MS; Terry Kandylis MS of 67 Pall Mall; Michelin-starred chef Anthony Boyd; Ambra Papa, head chef of Petersham Nurseries and last year’s winner; Imbibe’s Julie Sheppard; and Will Oatley, MD of Louis Latour Agencies.
Waller prepared a winning dish entitled ‘The posh prawn, with our guanciale and fizzy kohlrabi’, which featured langoustines served in an intense pork cheek broth with slivers of cured pork cheek. Stoltz paired this with Gosset Grand Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut.
Kandylis described the pairing as ‘My absolute favourite… the salty tang of the broth was matching the minerality of the champagne, but the herbs brought freshness and another dimension, bringing out more fruit from the champagne.’
‘Ian and Vanessa’s passion for food and wine really shone through, both in their attitude and in their dish,’ said Oatley.
Second place in the competition went to sommelier Linh Ziolkowska and chef Enrique Diez from Frog by Adam Handling in London, who served rose veal tuna tartare with mushroom and champagne ketchup and ceps, paired with Gosset’s latest cuvée Grand Blanc de Meunier Extra Brut.
Also competing were: sommelier Francesco Gabriele and chef Matteo Gabriele from Chewton Glen; sommelier Rui Apulo Pereira and chef Sofia Medeiros Vieira from The Calvalry and Guards Club and Royal Automobile Club; and sommelier Aurel Istrate and chef Pramuan Praweraphai of Jean-Georges at The Connaught.
Stoltz and Waller win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Champagne region to visit Gosset and meet chef de cave, Odilon de Varine.
For a full report of the competition see the next issue of Imbibe magazine.