Isa Bal

Isa Bal wins Sommelier Award in Michelin Guide

Congratulations to Isa Bal MS, whose decades of hard work and creative energy at his new restaurant have been recognised by the world’s most prestigious restaurant guide.

The UK Michelin Guide only gives out one award to Sommeliers (plus one for Welcome and Service) so it’s a serious achievement – and much merited, for his efforts both past and present.

During his two decades in hospitality, Isa has become the first Turkish person to pass the Master Sommelier exam (2009), won the Best Sommelier of Europe competition run by the Association de Sommellerie Internationale (2008), and been awarded the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence for Wine Service (2009) by the UK Academy of Food and Wine.

He first came to prominence at the Fat Duck – Heston Blumental’s iconic boundary-pushing restaurant in Bray – where a creative approach and deep-dive understanding of food and wine matching are essential.

But in 2019 he and former Fat Duck executive chef, Jonny Lake, set up Trivet in Bermondsey – and it is for his work here that the Michelin Guide gave him this year’s Sommelier Award.

Isa’s ground-breaking ‘ancient to modern’ wine list at Trivet

‘His enthusiasm for wine knows no bounds, and he is an admirable torchbearer for lesser-known regions,’ the judges commented. ‘The passionately compiled, highly original list is fascinating, and delivers a unique historic take, with wines listed according to when winemaking first commenced in each country.’

The list includes wines from countries that are rarely seen – and almost never highlighted, yet form the historical bedrock of wine history: Georgia, Armenia and Turkey.

For any Collective members visiting or working in London, it’s well worth a visit.

Collective members celebrate after 2021 Michelin awards

Last night brought great news for some of our members of the Sommelier Collective, with the announcement of this year’s Michelin stars.

Two Collective members saw their venues upgraded to hallowed three-star status.

Seeing stars

Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth, and Lucas Reynaud-Paligot from Helene Darroze at the Connaught would surely have been celebrating long into the night.

Jonny Kleeman, sommelier at Story saw Tom Sellers’ Southwark eatery make it up to two stars and, knowing him, may have had a glass or two in celebration as well!

Several of our members also saw their venues picking up that cherished first Michelin star: Emma Denney and Lorenzo Lentini at Davies and Brook, Viorel Filip at Benares and Charlotte Besson at Latymer restaurant at Pennyhill Park.

Collective member Daniel Stojcic is one of the team at Noble in Holywood who picked up the Welcome and Service Award. A recognition, as sponsor Lavazza’s Marco Lavazza put it ‘that the pleasure doesn’t just come from the food but from the overall experience.’

Karinne Canevet, from Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmonds won the Sommelier Award.

In keeping with our times, this was a virtual ceremony, compered by Davina McCall, with beamed-in input from the Guide’s international director Gwendal Poullennec.

Including Zoom interviews from tearful chefs at home or in silent kitchens – often over dodgy wifi – rather than tuxedos and ball-dresses, it was a long way from the usual glitzy affair.

But weirdly that didn’t matter

The emotions on show were heartfelt and particularly welcome after a year that has been horribly short on good news.

And it will surely live long in the memory for all of last night’s winners.

Congratulations to you all from all of us at the Sommelier Collective – and we hope to come and see what you’re doing in person once lockdown ends.

Santé!

All the results are available on the Michelin Guide website, here