A winning group of wine professionals at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine on Sunday 18 August 2018; school director Celia Hay in centre of photo.

 

A bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne and a trip to Kyoto put a big smile on Marek Przyborek’s face on Sunday night at the 2018 New Zealand Sommelier of the Year competition.

The annual competition is run by the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, whose founder, Celia Hay, is a strong champion of promoting top notch service in the country’s cafes, restaurants and bars.

Winner Przborek works at Huami Restaurant at Sky City. He will travel to Kyoto in October to represent New Zealand at the ASI Asia-Oceania Sommelier Competition in October this year, says head judge Cameron Douglas, who holds the world’s highest wine service qualification – the Master Sommelier (MS).

The competition this year was close run, said Celia Hay of the New Zealand SChool of Food & Wine.

Andrea Martinisi from The Grove and Baduzzi restaurants in Auckland and Maciej Zimny from Noble Rot in Wellington were close behind the winner. And since New Zealand can send two competitors to the international competition in Kyoto this year, Andrea Martinisi will accompany Przborek and Maciej Zimny – winner of 2015 competition – will represent New Zealand in China at the One Belt One Road Champion Sommelier Summit in Ningxia, China in September.

Meanwhile, a young Napier woman won the Junior Sommelier of the Year Competition 2018.

Bethany Jeffries of Bistonomy Restaurant is Napier is New Zealand Junior Sommelier of the Year and the runner-up junior is Nikki Weir from the French Café in Auckland. Bethany’s prize was a trip to Misha’s Vineyard in Central Otago.

The guest judge at this year’s New Zealand competition was Jonathan Ross MS from the Rockpool Group in Melbourne and Sydney.