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The national finals were held on the 23rd of May at Gustave Eiffel Vocational School in Reims. The students competed in a challenge to demonstrate their mastery of both Champagne and Cheese before a jury of cheese makers, sommeliers, teachers and other professionals. The 8 student finalists competing for the title of 2013 Competition Champion competed in a number of events and challenges that would illustrate their ability to handle and organize products, service, tasting, and cheese and wine pairing in a restaurant context. They needed to impress the jury in both French and English with their creativity and their knowledge of the subtleties of both Champagne and Cheese. All contestants for this challenge had previously been trained and chaperoned by two sponsors, a Champagne sommelier and a cheese making/maturing expert.
Anne-Sophie Berthe ● Touquet Paris Plage Hospitality Vocational School,
Candidate representing the North region, sponsored by Marc Facchinetti, cheese maker at “Philippe Olivier by Marc” in Calais and by Michel Widehem, head commissioner at the sommelier masters at the UDSF, and professor of Hospitality and Catering at the Touquet School.
Marc Régent ● Lesdiguières Vocational School at Grenoble
Candidate representing the Central Rhône region, sponsored by Bernard Mure-Ravaud, cheese maker at the “Fromagerie des Alpages” in Grenoble and by Pierre-Hubert Rougny, sommelier and professor at the Lesdiguières School, Grenoble.
Alexandre Pottier ● Hospitality Vocations School at La Rochelle
Candidate representing the Western region, sponsored by Régis Nunzi, cheese maker at “Chez Régis” in Rochefort and by Jacques Sarraud, former sommelier for Richard Coutanceau at La Rochelle.
The joint runners-up for 4th place also gave worthy performances: :
Pierre Derue ●Gustave Eiffel Vocational School at Reims, candidate for the Eastern region
Audrey Karatchewky ● Santos Dumont Vocational School Saint-Cloud, candidate for the Ile de France-Picardie region
Jérémy Schaeffer ● Jean de la Taille Vocational School at Pithiviers, candidate for the Central Eastern region
Loïc Launay ● Louis Martin Bret Vocational School at Manosque, candidate for the South Eastern region
Valentin Robert ● René Cassin Vocational School at Tulle, candidate for the South Western region.
The purpose of the “Champagne and Cheese” competition, organized for the second year in a row is to revitalize the wine waiting sector all the while encouraging its professional commercial expression in restaurants. This contest was designed for high school students preparing their Professional Baccalaureate in Restaurant Catering, majoring in Service and Marketing, and has thus been officially recognized by the Ministry of Education. It also benefits from the support and guidance of two inter-professional organizations, the CNIEL (National Center for Dairy Industry and Economy) and the Comité Champagne.
In December, 138 youths from 49 different schools applied for a preliminary selection contest that would test their knowledge of Champagne, cheeses and the history of the Champagne-Ardenne region.
In February, 96 candidates from vocational schools were chosen to participate in this interregional preselecting round.
On May 8, young students participated in the national finals at Reims.
As a reward for their diligence and hard work, the candidates were all awarded a box of professional cheese knives and Champagne glasses. The 5 finalists also won a gourmet meal for 2. The top 3 winners also won a trophy and 2 days of immersive workshop internship in prestigious Parisian establishments. These prizes will help accompany these students towards a promising future.
Violaine de Caffarelli
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