After taking part in this year’s Copa de Jerez, Collective member Mattia Mazzi is already dreaming of next year’s competition.
This year’s Copa de Jerez [held on November 9th and 10th in Jerez] was incredible. Really unique. For me and my chef Vincenzo it was something else – and not what we expected.
We were there to represent the UK, and thought it would be more like what we did in the regional heat in London, which was quite formal. But you get there and it is like Masterchef meets The Final Table: the Dutch team brought carriages of trolleys with all the silverware and chinaware, the Russian had massive beautiful trays. It was incredible.
You watch the videos and it looks amazing, and you go ‘wow, I was part of that’.
I’d recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of taking part, but be aware: we’ll probably take part too – and now we know what you need to do to win!
You get a taste for it. You see what the rest can do. London is big and international, but being able to challenge other countries and the approach that they have is just crazy. It’s very inspirational.
The Belgian team were sheer class. Paul-Henri Cuvelier was best maitre d’ in Belgium three years in a row and Fabian Bail was a Bocuse d’Or finalist. Particularly in terms of presentation, there was definitely inspiration there from the other teams.
While I was there I also learned from the producers who gave me great ideas on how to pair sherry. Fernando de Castilla gave me a really good insight into the way the negotiant world works over there.
El Maestro Sierra, who provided my chosen sherry match for the main course, gave me a great historical snapshot into how sherry evolved.
I hadn’t planned to see them. But the oenologist, Ana, approached me at the competition and told me to come and visit. They don’t do tours or accept many visitors, and their bodega has a life of its own – with no electricity! It’s a place of silence and love.
While I was there I also did a tuna ronqueo where you try cuts from nose to tail moving from those with less blood to those with most blood, then fat and finally the cheeks. It wasn’t part of the Copa, but someone invited me, so I went, and it was amazing; the perfection of the pairing with the manzanilla was stunning, and they only used three ingredients per dish.
No regrets – well, just one…
From this year’s competition, I’ve only got one regret: I wish I’d gone to the region before the Copa, doing these kind tastings and visiting the wineries. It would have taken my presentation to the next level.
The Copa de Jerez is like the Champions League: it’s a thrill, a journey, doing something you love with a friend, the back-stage stories…
You have to be a bit of a performer – it’s not like service – but now we know how much we can push it. And we’re already thinking about our idea for 2022.
Find out more at http://www.sherry.wine #sherrywinesjerez