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The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition and Gala Dinner 

Christophe Le Chatton, Executive Assistant Manager, Director Food & Beverage at The Fairmont Royal York, is pleased to welcome The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) to The Fairmont Royal York in celebration of The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition and The Best Ontario Sommelier Gala Dinner. Both events will be held on November 8, 2004, beginning with the sommelier competition at 2:00 pm on the 19th Floor of The Fairmont Royal York. The day will conclude with the winning finalist being announced at the Best Ontario Sommelier Gala Dinner in the Imperial Room at The Fairmont Royal York at 6:30 pm on November 8, 2004.

Competitors were drawn from over fifty certified Ontario sommeliers and members of the Toronto chapter of CAPS. This organization was created almost a year ago as a chapter of the Paris-based Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and is devoted to developing the sommelier profession in Ontario. One of its core objectives is to groom sommeliers to compete in prestigious competitions held annually at venues world wide, including Best Ontario, Best Canadian, Best Pan-American and World's Best Sommelier. "CAPS provides the opportunity to showcase the immense talent of sommeliers in this city, and to prepare them to be the best on the international stage," says Christophe Le Chatton, Technical Director of CAPS.

To determine qualifiers for the November 8 competition, semi-finals were held on September 8, 2004. Competing sommeliers were evaluated based on their performance on a written questionnaire; the blind tasting of two wines for sight, smell, taste, aftertaste, grape varietal, vintage, area of provenance; and a food and wine pairing. Finally, on September 8, four candidates with the highest score were selected to compete as finalists for the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition. The final four sommeliers selected from across the country to compete for this prestigious title are Karen Rossi, Zoltan Szabo, Mario Larochelle and April Kilpatrick.

On November 8th, The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition will see the four professional sommeliers compete in a series of tests for the prestigious title and honour of representing Ontario in the Canadian finals slated for the spring of 2005. A distinguished panel of judges will decide which one of the four finalists will become the Best Ontario Sommelier. The final four finalists will be put through their paces once again on November 8 with a demanding series of tests including a formal wine and food pairing presentation and a service sequence. They will also be judged on their ability to blind test five premiere wines. The final four will be required to distinguish between each wine's sight, its bouquet, and the taste and aftertaste characteristics.

The judges on November 8, 2004 will be Gordon Stimmel, Wine Columnist for the Toronto Star; Michael Fagan, Manager of the LBCO Knowledge Resources Group; David Lawrason, Editor-in-Chief of Wine Access Magazine; Gilberto Bojaca, President of CAPS; and Christophe Le Chatton, Technical Director of CAPS. The finalist who has excelled in meeting all the requirements to the satisfaction of the judges will be accorded the prestigious honour of Best Ontario Sommelier.

The finalists:

Karen Rossi, a graduate of the Winery and Viticulture Technician program at Niagara College, brings extensive wine experience to the competition as a Sommelier of two years for the Pillar and Post Inn, Spa & Conference Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Today, she is a beverage supervisor overseeing the wine and cigar program at Casino Niagara.

European native Zoltan Szabo is certified with the International Sommelier Guild and is an active member of The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). His passion for wines extends to creating award-winning wine programs for some of the finest restaurants in Toronto. Recently he was awarded the much-coveted "Wine List of the Month" by The Wine Guy himself, Tony Aspler.

Mario Larochelle, originally from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, has steadily moved up the restaurant food and beverage ranks with several sommelier certificates. His credits include the Sommelier certificate from Ecole Hôtelièr des Hautes Laurentides of Saint-Adèle, Quebec, the Sommelier certificate from Algonquin College, Ontario, and Level 1 of the Master Sommelier's program in Monterey, California.

April Kilpatrick is a seasoned sommelier of seven years with Ruth's Chris Steak House. As a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) and the International Sommelier Guild, Kilpatrick rigorously pursues a deeper knowledge of wine as she works towards her Master Sommelier Certification.

The Fairmont Royal York is an ideal venue for this major competition given its standing as the greatest hotel purchaser of Vinters Quality Alliance (VQA) Canadian Wines in North America, and by continuously purchasing more imported and domestic wine than any hotel in Canada. In recognition of its enthusiastic support of local producers and talent, the Wine Council of Ontario awarded EPIC, the hotel's signature restaurant, the 2004 Restaurant Award of Excellence for providing exemplary Ontario VQA wine experiences to discerning patrons. As well, earlier this summer, Wine Access Magazine rated EPIC as one of "Canada's 50 best" wine restaurants.

The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition will take place on the 19th floor of The Fairmont Royal York on Monday, November 8, beginning at 2:00 pm. The event is free of charge and is open to the public.

The Best Ontario Sommelier Gala Dinner will take place in the Imperial Room of The Fairmont Royal York on Monday, November 8, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The gala dinner is $100 per member and $125 per non-member. For gala dinner registration, please contact Chris Boland at 416-362-2499 before November 3, 2004.

Download the invitation (including dinner menu) as an Acrobat PDF (114 KB)




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