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One of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition

The 37 candidates enjoyed the evolution of the selection process

The sommelier class presided over by Philippe Faure-Brac recorded a drop in the number of participants in the first tests. This was due to the pandemic. However, the level of the participants was very high.

Les 37 candidats réunis à l'issue des épreuves dans la cour du lycée Albert-de-Mun.

The 27th edition of the one of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition, the seventh for the sommelier class which was created in 2000, could have been a record for this profession. There were even more than 90 entrants. However, between the opening of registrations and the first round, the pandemic disrupted everything and, on the symbolic starting line drawn in Paris at the Lycée Albert-de-Mun, only 37 candidates remained...

The quality was there with two Best Sommelier of France, three Best Young Sommeliers of France, two Master of Port and even two professionals crowned abroad (Romania and Belgium)... But there is more to this competition, which is in fact an examination with a diploma awarded at the end. Although knowledge is required, know-how and interpersonal skills are equally important.

Innovative subject committee

This 2022 edition may have surprised some people. The subjects committee, a new element, which brings together Laurent Derhé, Philippe Bourguignon, Robert Desbureaux, Jean-Luc Jamrozik and Philippe Troussard, decided to bring in some original touches. Although the first part of the tests, the written ones - seemed to be usual, the approach was not.

This was especially true of the tasting. It involved five glasses, three of white wine, two of red wine and a novel approach. There was no question here of a long dissertation to comment on each drink, but rather a series of questions which had to be adapted according to the form imposed: either a multiple choice test, or short and precise answers.

This was a form that rather appealed to the candidates and was discovered by the members of each jury at the last moment. The subject commission did not disclose anything earlier and, especially, was not involved in the correction.

See you in October in Le Touquet

In the afternoon, the three technical workshops began and the candidates took part in them three by three. Although the food and wine matching and English expression tests were not a surprise, the service test was far from obvious. Opening a bottle and then filling the glasses of four customers, knowing that the wine has a large deposit and that any decanting is forbidden, is not a common task, let alone an obvious one...

The main difficulty is choosing only the best wines. The Coet has not yet communicated its list, and the candidates who have received their marks and know whether the adventure will continue for them are free to show their joy or their disappointment.

One single thing is certain: the finalists will be expected on October 17th in Le Touquet. The hotel school will host the tests, which will end the next day at the end of the service test during a lunch.

We will then know the names of the new Meilleurs Ouvriers de France who will join Pascaline Lepeltier, Eric Goettelmann, Jean-Baptiste Klein and Nicolas Vialettes who graduated four years ago.

Text and photos Jérémy Martin