Gosset Matchmakers 2021 Winners Revealed

Five finalists from across the UK gathered at Le Cordon Bleu’s Cord restaurant yesterday to contest this year’s Gosset Matchmaker’s competition. Contestants were left in no doubt about the scale of the challenge facing them.

‘We started this in 2016 and its just got better and better over the last six years,’ said Will Oatley, MD of Gosset’s importers, Louis Latour Agencies.

Matthieu Longuere MS from Le Cordon Bleu London school, and chairman of the judges, told the assembled teams about the extra challenge facing them, in the form of a Mystery Box, from which they would have to create a second dish to match with the Gosset Grande Millésime 2012. There was a wide range of ingredients to choose from, but all creations had to use Berkswell cheese – a sheep’s milk cheese.

As the teams surveyed the list of ingredients and threw ideas around, chef judge Laetizia Keating said she was ‘looking for the teams to work harmoniously together’.

‘Chefs often have a strong character, but you have to respect that your colleague has their own experience,’ she said. ‘You can match food to wine, or wine to food. There are different approaches.’

But which approach would be successful? Before long, our teams were tasting, preparing and cooking assiduously, always with one eye on the clock. Our judges watched and waited and eventually, once all the dishes had been presented and tasted we had a winner.

Judge Laetizia Keating quizzing contestant Lucy Meza-Ortega from 67 Pall Mall

Gosset Matchmakers Winner 2022

left to right: Adam Eyre, Chef, Fisher’s Baslow Hall; Julien Cointreau, Director, Champagne Gosset; Matthew Davison, Sommelier, Fischer’s Baslow Hall

Fischers, Baslow Hall, Derbyshire

Matthew Davison and Adam Eyre

Hand-dived Orkney scallop with nori salt, baked celeriac, fermented ceps, XO sauce, umeboshi furikake.

The scallop with nori salt and celeriac
Matthew and Adam explain their matches
The ‘perfectly cooked’ improvised Dover sole

A combination of their restaurant’s increasing Japanese/Asian influence, but with a seasonal, earthy, autumnal twist, the Fischers’ team’s signature dish held together well. Julien Cointreau was not the only one to appreciate the fact that he could clearly taste all the flavours – and that it worked very well with their chosen Blanc de Blancs.

‘A lot of thought went into this match,’ said Svet. ‘The use of the celeriac in the stock really works with the blanc de blancs. The whole thing is incredibly good.’

Svet Manolev MS – an ‘incredibly good’ match

Moreover, they kept the standard high with their mystery box dish: Dover sole with mushroom and bean fricassee, black garlic purée and Berkswell cheese and cream velouté. ‘We knew we could go autumnal and savoury, because we knew the champagne would lift it,’ said sommelier Matthew, who was making his second appearance in the Matchmakers’ final.

‘They really had the right idea on the pairings,’ said Louise. ‘Their thought process was very good.’

‘They nailed it with both courses,’ added Will Oatley. ‘The concentration, the flavours, and the combination with the champagne. And both dishes were cooked to perfection.’

As well as a magnum each of Champagne Gosset Grand Blanc de Blanc Brut, which they took away on the day, Matthew and Adam will (Covid permitting) be heading off to northern France in January for a three day immersive Champagne experience as guests of Champagne Gosset. They will visit the chateau and vineyards, tour the cellar and get a masterclass in blending and tasting with the chef de cave, Odilon de Varine.

‘We are both quite nervous of competitions, so we genuinely weren’t expecting to win,’ said a delighted Matthew. ‘But the industry has been so tough over the last 18 months that to come here and win was extra special. We can’t wait for the trip. I’ve not been to champagne before, to it’s great to have something to look forward to!’

We’ll bring you a review of what is sure to be an amazing trip.  And if you’d like to have a chance of winning the prize yourself, contact us, and we’ll make sure to let you know when next year’s entry goes live.

Champagne for all at the prizegiving
Gosset of course – in a variety of styles
‘We just won? Really?’

Runners up (in alphabetical order)

67 Pall Mall

Lucy Meza-Ortega and Sammy Benouhoud

Sammy Benouhoud (left) and Lucy Meza-Ortega bravely paired the Blanc de Blancs with a dessert

Champagne-infused jelly with lime zest and a touch of lavender flower, crème patissiere infused with apricot, robed with honey, apricot and a smoked thyme coulis.

Proof you can match blanc de blancs with dessert
Lucy and Samy explain how it’s done
Before presenting their quinoa mystery-box dish

‘We focused on apricot, because that’s a key flavour in the champagne,’ said Lucy. ‘The champagne will refresh your palate but also mirror the flavours.’

Matching a dessert with a blanc de blancs was a brave call – and split the judges. Some found the strong citrus flavours dominated the Blanc de Blancs; others thought it was excellent and nominated it their top match of the day.

‘They didn’t make it too sweet, which was smart,’ said Svet Manolev MS. ‘For me it really worked. They understood the flavour components in the wine and the dish really well.’

The mystery box dish, using quinoa, beets, kohl rabi and Dover sole, cut through with honey and black garlic vinaigrette was less successful – not least because the cheese seemed rather lost, but there was much to admire in Lucy and Samy’s overall effort.

The Creameries

Vic Watkins and Emily-Rose Lucas

left to right: Vic Watkins and Emily-Rose Lucas. Their mystery box dish was loved by our chef judge Laetizia Keating

A take on a gateau Breton with a brown butter biscuit base, prunes cooked in manzanilla and irish sheeps’ cheese ice cream.

A quirky reworking of a gateau Breton
Emily-Rose and Vic talk cheese to the judges
For chef Laetizia this was a great effort

‘We noted a maltiness and a nuttiness in the Grande Reserve Brut,’ said chef Vic Watkins. ‘Also notes of manzanilla, and we wanted to incorporate that.’

Another ambitious attempt, our tasters felt the dish worked in isolation, but was less successful with the wine, where the sweetness made the champagne taste rather austere. However their mystery-box dish – of beans cooked with thyme and bay, charred leeks and cheese made into a cracker was an imaginative statement which drew admiration from the majority of our judges.

‘Of all the teams, this is the mystery box dish where the Berkswell cheese element works best,’ said Laetizia Keating. 

Sketch

Emeline Gigaud and Francesco di Flumeri

Francesco di Flumeri (left) and Emeline Gigaud brought real theatre to their entry

Trompe l’oeil of Granny Smith apple poached in oyster and champagne dressing, scallops coral foam with blanc de blancs jelly.

No shortage of interest in this presentation…
… so lots for Francesco and Emeline to explain
A well conceived bean risotto on a bed of petals

The Sketch duo had clearly put an enormous amount of effort into their presentation, with not one, but two prepared dishes, as well as the mystery-box dish, plus a home-made tisane designed to capture champagne flavours, and pre-printed menu cards outlining the two preconceived dishes.

‘Blanc de blancs is not only for an aperitif,’ said Emeline. ‘We think you can enjoy it at any time of the meal.’

The judges listen intently to the presentations

It was an ambitious pitch, and the judges liked the idea of reworking the same ingredients in two different ways to create sweet and savoury dishes. But their prepared dishes ran into problems with the wine matching.

‘I liked the inventiveness, but I found the food overpowered the wine,’ said Louise Gordon.

The mystery-box dish, however – a far simpler bean risotto, made with fish-stock, was very well received. ‘I liked the simplicity – and it was a very good match,’ said Svet. Mathieu Longuere MS agreed, saying it was ‘their best dish’.

Where the Light Gets In

Emily Klomp, Seri Nam

left to right: Seri Nam and Emily Klomp – their foraging, sustainability and zero waste ethos went down well

Onion and scallop entrail sauce, emulsified with butter, soy and plum wine, topped with hawthorn oil, pickled samphire, sea purslane and maromi.

The ‘intense’ scallop entrail sauce
Emily and Seri explain their sustainability
The ‘almost there’ Dover sole mystery box match

Of all the teams today, this Stockport team had the strongest sustainability ethos, with hand-foraging and home-creation very much part of their entry. ‘We hate to throw anything away,’ said Emily.

The intensity of the scallop entrail sauce drew approving nods from our judges, as well as Cordon Bleu’s head chef, David Duverger, who was overseeing the teams in the kitchen. But it created problems for the wine. ‘It just overpowers the Blanc de Blanc,’ said Laetitia.  Reworking the sauce into a supporting rather than starring role would have been better, they felt.

Their mystery-box dish – Dover sole with creamy cheese water sauce, black garlic and crispy kale – was well conceived but just missed the mark.

‘You can see what they were trying to do, but they didn’t quite execute on it,’ said Louise.

Feedback From The Judges

If you’re thinking of entering next year (and you should!) then our judges have some advice for you.

‘Teams often just tried to match the flavours in the wine with similar flavours in the food. But it’s about more than that. Food pairing is how textures, temperatures and flavours interact… all of it.’ Svet Manolev MS, 67 Pall Mall

‘Some teams had one great dish but were let down by the other. It’s about consistency across the board.’ Laetizia Keating, Head Chef, The Pem

‘We weren’t necessarily looking for wow factor or theatre. We wanted something where neither the food or wine dominated. There were some dishes we loved on their own, but they changed big-time with the wine. We wanted dishes where you could still taste the wine and the food was highlighted by it.’ Mathieu Longuere MS, Wine Director, Cordon Bleu

‘The teams didn’t always talk enough about their thought process behind the wine matching – and that’s important. This isn’t about showing off. It’s about getting the essentials right and working together.’  Julien Cointreau, Director, Champagne Gosset

‘There were some outstanding dishes, but often they were let down by the mystery dish. Interestingly, simple was usually better.’ Louise Gordon, Head of Wine and Bars, Heckfield Place

The Judges

clockwise, left to right: Will Oatley, Managing Director, Louis Latour Agencies; Svetoslav Manolev MS, Head Sommelier, 67  Pall Mall; Julien Cointreau, Director, Champagne Gosset; Mathieu Longuere MS, Cordon Bleu; Louise Gordon, Head of Wine and Bars, Heckfield Place; Laetizia Keating, Head Chef, The Pem.

Thank You!

Many thanks to Teresa, David and all the team at Cord for the use of their restaurant, and all their help on the day. Congratulations to all the teams who entered – particularly those who trekked down to London for the final. And many thanks to Champagne Gosset for a great idea, encouraging young somms and chefs to get creative, work together – and drink great Champagne!

If you’d like to be notified about next year’s competition, ping us an email

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