The former Zuma head sommelier competed against Loic Avril from The Fat Duck (who came second) and Tanguy Martin from Hotel Terravina (third). Avril was named Young Sommelier of the Year.
Although she worked hard to prepare for it, Larsen told BigHospitality the win was a surprise. She encouraged anyone “especially girls, who might not be as competitive as men” to and participate in the event and get the recognition they deserve. This was Larsen's fourth try at the competition, after finishing fourth and receiving the Young Sommelier of the Year title last year.
Danish-born Larsen, 32, trained at one and two-star restaurants In Copenhagen. She moved to London in 2007 to work at Pont de la Tour and Orrery and is currently taking a sabbatical before announcing her next career move.
She succeeds Clement Robert, who talked about how much his career had changed and how much he had learnt about the profession since winning the 2013 title, in an inspiring speech.
The three finalists showed great knowledge and savoir-faire under pressure, completing challenges that included pointing out mistakes on a wine list, describing and identifying wines and spirits, matching wines to a taster menu and serving them in a restaurant scenario, and the notorious champagne pour.
The judging panel included Ronan Sayburn, from Ronan Sayburn Academy, Stanislas Rocoffort de Vinniere, international wine ambassador for Moet, and Nigel Wilkinson from Boutinot Wines. Hotel Terravina owner Gerard Basset, who was meant to be a judge, had to step down because of the presence of one of his employees (Martin) in the competition.
The Academy of Food and Wine Service organised the competition.
“We were delighted with the high number and high quality of entries this year. The competition is very tough – Kathrine was a worthy winner, but Loic and Tanguy did incredibly well, commented Nick Scade, chairman of the Academy of Food and Wine Service.
The full results of the Moet UK Sommelier of the Year 2014 are as follows:
- Katherine Larsen
- Loic Avril (also Young Sommelier of the Year)
- Tanguy Martin
- Tobias Brauweiler
- Lukas Kolodziejckyk
- Olivier Marie
- Romain Bourger
- Stefan Neumann
- Adam Powlowski
- Emmanuel Pesqueira
- Damien Trimckquel
- Roberto Zanca