As I sat crouched over my laptop last Thursday night in the comfortable latest branch of 28-50 in Maddox Street, London W1, I was aware of the large table next to me filling up and of a few glances in my direction. I noticed one or two emblazoned blazers on the men and went back to the screen on which I was editing Nick Bartman's fascinating account of Fighting fakes in China.
A half glass later, the two chaps in blazers turned round to assure me, 'Please don't think we're ignoring you', and I realised, spotting Ronan Sayburn and Xavier Rousset of 28-50 at the other end of the table, that this was the examiners of the Master Sommelier exams that took place on Monday to Saturday of last week in London.
You may remember that this time last year many candidates flew in from around the world for these sommelier tests and yet not a single person was added to the ranks of the Master Sommeliers. This year three people passed the three-part exam.
Ronan reports, 'We had a very international crowd this year for the MS exam with candidates from Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Canada and France - 24 in total. They were from restaurants and hotels such as The Savoy, The Ritz, The Ledbury, The Fat Duck, Medlar, Northcote Manor, Zuma and Dinner.'
The three new Master Sommeliers are pictured above, from left to right: Sebastien Crowther from Australia, who was responsible for the award-winning wine list of The Royal Mail, a famous restaurant deep in the Victorian outback; Katherine Larsen from Denmark (who works at Zuma in London); and Aristide Spies from Belgium (who was third in the last World Sommelier Competition in Tokyo). Many congratulations to all three of them.
The recent film SOMM was all about the trials and tribulations of studying for the MS exam in the US.
See also MW or MS - which is the higher qualification? in our Members' forum.