Guild Crowns 2012 Top|Somm and TopNewSomm
May 09, 2012
Guild of Sommeliers Crowns the Country’s 2012 Top|Somm and TopNewSomm
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Sunday, a dozen of the best sommeliers from around the country gathered at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco, California to compete in the prestigous, third annual Top|Somm and TopNewSomm competitions.
Hosted by the Guild of Sommeliers and judged by a panel of Master Sommeliers, both competitions asked contestants to demonstrate their skills through a series of challenges in the categories of wine theory, beverage service and blind tasting. Top|Somm is open to wine service professionals of all ages, while TopNewSomm is open to those under 30 years old.
After months of competitions at the local, regional and finally the national level, two emerged victorious Sunday night: Mariya Kovacheva of Café Boulud in Palm Beach, FL, took home the title of Top|Somm, and Roland Micu was named the country’s TopNewSomm. Second and third place in Top|Somm went to Emily Papach of Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA, and Christopher Bates of Hotel Fauchere in Milford, PA, respectively.
Left: Mariya Kovacheva receives the Robert Mondavi Trophy for her Top|Somm win. Right: Roland Micu is awarded the Southern Wine and Spirits Championship Trophy for his TopNewSomm win.
“It was an incredible challenge to go through every stage of the competition as well as an honor to compete with such great sommeliers from around the country,” noted Mariya Kovacheva, this year’s Top|Somm champion. “The level of competition was extremely high, and experiencing it has helped me become a much better beverage professional—not only in a test environment but also in my workplace.” Kovacheva, who is the head sommelier at Palm Beach’s Café Boulud, also took home the Robert Mondavi Trophy that is awarded to the Top|Somm.
As Master Frederick Dame, President of the Guild of Sommeliers said, “This unique opportunity to hone your skills against the best of your peers reflects the high standards of training and mentorship necessary for success. I continue to be impressed,” he asserted, “with the high quality of competition and the diligence of the candidates in their preparation.”
To reach this final stage of the competition, these sommeliers outscored their peers in intensely difficult competitions held first at the local level and then at a similar three-part regional examination. Surpassing over 200 competitors along the way, all twelve finalists set a high standard for the profession, and are promising candidates for the Master Sommelier diploma.
Indeed, a few of Sunday’s competitors will be sitting for their Master exam in the next month; Roland Micu is one of them. Former Wine Director for La Toque in Napa, Micu passed the tasting portion of the Master exam last year and is currently focused on the remaining theory and service elements. The TopNewSomm competition provided valuable experience in this preparation. “I am truly humbled to even be mentioned in the conversation about the top sommeliers in the country,” said Micu, who was presented with the Southern Wine and Spirits Championship Trophy for his TopNewSomm win. Emphasizing the camaraderie of the competition, he noted, “The experience of competing in TopNewSomm is a great way to strengthen networking opportunities, establish and cement strong friendships, and attain both personal and professional growth.”
Front: Yannick Benjamin. Middle (from left): Emily Papach, Andrey Ivanov, Desi Echavarrie, Carlton McCoy. Back (from left): Mariya Kovacheva, Roland Micu, Elizabeth Dowty, Christopher Bates, Charles Puglia, William Davis and Michael Descamps.
The complete line-up of 2012 Top|Somm Finalists included:
Mariya Kovacheva (Café Boulud in Palm Beach, FL) – 1st place
Emily Papach (Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA) – 2nd place
Christopher Bates (Hotel Fauchere in Milford, PA) – 3rd place
Yannick Benjamin (Le Du’s Wines in New York, NY)
William Davis (Beverage Distributors in Denver, CO)
Michael Descamps (Bourbon Steak and Saltwater Restaurants in Detroit, MI)
Desmond Echavarrie (The French Laundry in Yountville, CA)
The complete line-up of 2012 TopNewSomm Finalists included:
Roland Micu (formerly of La Toque in Napa, CA) – 1st place
Elizabeth Dowty (Vino Wholesale in New Orleans, LA)
Andrey Ivanov (33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar in St. Louis, MO)
Carlton McCoy (The Little Nell in Aspen, CO)
Charles Puglia (Jean Georges Restaurant in New York, NY)