French-born, London-based, Hide employee Aymeric Pollenne has been declared International Young Sommelier 2018 by the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
Pollenne, who was declared the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB Young Sommelier of the Year in March, took the global title last month having competed at the Intercontinental Presidente Hotel in Mexico City against top young sommeliers from all over the world – including USA, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Turkey and Germany.
Having faced a stiff two-day contest on 18–20 September, Pollenne, who is 24 years-old, was crowned the Best in the World.
Pollene, who had previously worked in Paris at the 3-star Michelin Le Pre Catelan, came to London’s Lanesborough Hotel two year’s ago to hone his sommelier skills in English, before moving to the capital’s Hide in Piccadilly in time for its opening in March.
As well as written knowledge tests, the practical tasks at the sommelier challenge involved decanting and pouring Champagne and Mediterranean wines, off-the-cuff food and wine matching, and blind tastings of wine and spirits. Three semi-finalists then showed off their skills on stage for the final placings.
“It is a thrilling achievement, and one that I am sure will change my life,” Pollenne commented on his return to London. ‘‘I was nervous going into the finals, and thought I had made some disappointing mistakes, so I was doubly surprised when my name was called as the winner! I could not have managed this success without the training and support of Piotr Pietras MS and the team at Hide. My thanks to them for getting me through this.”
Shortly after winning his UK title last October, Pollenne moved to the new, and now Michelin-starred, restaurant on Piccadilly – that now boasts not one but two International Young Sommelier titles. Hide wine director Petras had triumphed in exactly the same way the year before.
Cheering Pollenne on in Mexico City was Philip Evins, Bailli Délégué for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB, who said, “This is wonderful news not only for young Aymeric but also for Great Britain and our front of house talent. In a competition of this calibre careers are forged and lifetime friendships are formed. He will go far.”
However, Pollenne will be leaving Hide shortly for personal reasons to support his family in France following a family bereavement. But he plans to continue his stellar career next year by moving to Australia – now with a global title to add.
“This is just the beginning for me, and now that I am getting used to the stage, I will continue to compete wherever I am,” he concludes.