Fischer’s at Baslow Hall in Derbyshire won yesterday’s Gosset Matchmakers Final 2021, with its young sommelier and chef team judged to have made the perfect two dishes to match Gosset’s Grande Blanc de Blancs and Grande Reserve. Our drinks editor Peter Dean had a ringside seat to capture the rising tension as five of the UK’s best up-coming teams battled it out to see who had the chops when it came to pairing with Champagne. And who knew that caramelised celeriac was the perfect foil for a Blanc de Blancs?
“Each pair used a bewildering and fascinating array of ingredients and techniques from making a sauce out of scallops entrails to a homemade tea bag including Assam, vanilla and toasted bread,” writes Dean.
It was clear from the moment you arrived at the Gosset Matchmakers Final 2021 in the kitchens at Cord, on London’s Fleet Street, that the five teams battling it out to be crowned Gosset Matchmaker were taking it very seriously indeed. Using the kitchens at Cord, the Cordon Bleu restaurant still not opened since its intended March 2020 launch date, and overseen by Cordon Bleu’s cuisine chef David Duverger, five of the hottest young sommelier and chef teams in the country were hard at it – recreating a pre-planned pairing but also creating a new dish on the spot with a list of mystery ingredients just given to them.
For the ad hoc creation the teams had to pair the food with Gosset’s Grand Millesime 2012, whereas for the pre-planned creation they could pick either the Gosset’s Grande Reserve 2012 or Gosset’s Grand Blanc de Blancs. Only one team picked the Grand Reserve. Two made desserts, two made savoury dishes while one made one of each.
Because of Covid the shortlist had been chosen through videos sent to the judging panel, and the finalists this year were as follows:
Lucy Meza-Ortega and Sammy Benouhoud (67 Pall Mall, London),
Emeline Gigaud and Francesco Di Flumeri (sketch: Lecture Room & Library, London),
Matthew Davison and Adam Eyre (Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Chesterfield),
Emily Klomp and Seri Nam (Where the Light Gets In, Stockport)
Emily-Rose Lucas and Vic Watkins (The Creameries, Manchester).
Three of the savoury dishes involved scallops but that was where the similarities ended with each pair using a bewildering and fascinating array of ingredients and techniques from making a sauce out of scallops entrails to a homemade tea bag including Assam, vanilla and toasted bread amongst other ingredients to create an infusion that was drunk before the main part of the dish to open up the palate.
Interestingly, the dishes were weighted evenly score-wise and the wine/food pairing element only accounted for 20% of the total marks, sustainability for example was another 20% – a category that Where The Light Gets In, for example, would have got top marks for its zero waste philosophy.
This year’s judges were: Matthieu Longuere MS (chair wine director, Le Cordon Bleu), Laetizia Keating (head chef, The Pem), Louise Gordon (head of wine & bars, Heckfield Place), Svetoslav Manolev MS (head sommelier, 67 Pall Mall), Will Oatley (managing director, Louis Latour Agencies) and Julian Cointreau (Gosset Champagne) and they were unanimous in awarding top prize to Matthew Davison and Adam Eyre from Fischer’s at Baslow Hall, Chesterfield in Derbyshire.
The dish they had pre-prepped was hand-dived Orkney scallop with nori salt, baked celeriac, fermented ceps from last year’s forage, XO sauce, umeboshi furikake with more sliced nori on top and a reduced celeriac stock. Eyre admitted that celeriac was the most favoured ingredient in their kitchen where even the juice from baking is used as a base for caramels in pudding.
There was more surprise in a velouté which accompanied their ‘mystery dish’ that had leek stock, thyme, bay, black garlic emulsion and dover sole with a touch of Berkswell cheese in the sauce – the one ingredient on the ‘mystery list’ which was mandatory.
Not only were their two dishes brimful with flavour, but they allowed the wines to express themselves and vice versa.
The two-way benefits of Gosset Matchmakers Final 2021
From Gosset’s point of view, hosting the event gives the House an opportunity to work with some of the UK’s top up-and-coming on-trade teams – both in an ambassadorial capacity, but also to canvas views on how the younger generation of sommeliers and chefs view Champagne.
“For us it is much like a survey,” explained Bertrand Verduzier, export director, Champagne Gosset “Do the new generation of sommeliers understand Champagne? What’s their view on it? But it also gives us an opportunity to explain that Champagne is a wine first and not just for celebrations.”
Verduzier added that the concept was a natural fit for a Champagne house like Gosset which does not do a lot of marketing activities; it was first mooted 20 years ago when the food scene started exploding in the UK, and it was a concept that they are considering exporting to other territories.
Although no budget was revealed the tie-in with Le Cordon Bleu, which is owned by the brother of JP Cointreau, the CEO of Gosset, makes it a cost-effective event, even more so when on-trade teams’ eyes are opened to the brand and possible commercial activity.
Matthew Davison, sommelier at Fischer’s said that one outcome of the Gosset Matchmakers Final 2021 was that it opened up the possibility of doing a tasting menu at the restaurant based entirely around Gosset wines.
“We don’t do a lot Champagne at the moment (it’s current by-the-glass Champagne is Forget Brimont 1er Cru) but knowing Gosset now we hope they’ll do an event with us.”
Gosset is imported and sold in the UK by Louis Latour Agencies which is a supplier partner of The Buyer. To learn more about them click here.