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Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers crowns Best Ontario Sommelier 2017

Posted on March 06, 2017

Toronto, ON. The Ontario chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS Ontario) is pleased to announce the winner of the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2017. Emily Pearce-Bibona of Femmes du Vins and sommelier at Barberian’s Steak House in Toronto won the coveted title of Best Ontario Sommelier after a day long program of competitive challenges at the Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts at George Brown College on March 5, 2017. The two runners-up in a tight race of 24 participants were Jose Luis Fernandez, sommelier at Quatrefoil restaurant in Dundas, followed by Nathan Morrell, sommelier at Bar Isabel in Toronto.

The top three participants qualified for the final competition after earning highest marks in a preliminary written exam and grueling competitive tasting. Each finalist then took their turn in the spotlight to face a further round of challenges in sommelier knowledge, tasting and theory, culminating in a live service demonstration before an audience of their peers and the public.

Ms. Pearce-Bibona also won the Lifford Wine and Spirits Award for Best Taster, presented by honorary event judge and sponsor, Steven Campbell of Lifford Wine and Spirits. She attributes her success to three factors:

“Patience practice and perseverance. This is a quote that I adopted from Thomas Keller – and it’s patience - taking the time to learn your craft and truly being patient to learn the intricacies of your trade.

"Perfection never happens and it probably never will but repetition brings you closer to performing at that high level. Finally, perseverance – especially for the women in the industry – never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or you can’t achieve something or you can’t be something. Work hard and pursue your goals.”

The event’s distinguished judges included John Szabo, Master Sommelier (MS) and principal at Wine Align, Sara D’Amato, president of CAPS Ontario and critic at Wine Align, and Brent Fraser, sommelier at The Granite Club, Toronto. The event’s technical committee consisted of director Alexandra Evans, Serge Janic (named Best Serbian Sommelier, 2014) and Jennifer Huether, Master Sommelier (MS) of Jackson Family Wines in California.

The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition is presented by CAPS Ontario every two years, recognizing excellence among Ontario’s wine professionals. As winner of the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition, Ms. Pearce-Bibona will represent the province of Ontario at the upcoming prestigious Canadian National Sommelier Competition in Vancouver on September 3 - 5, 2017. Past winners have gone on to win the Concours du Meilleur Sommelier des Amériques and achieve top rankings in L’Association de la Sommellerie Internationale’s Concours du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde, competing successfully for Canada at the very highest levels of international competition.

This year’s competition sponsors included Lifford Wine and Spirits, VQA Wines of Ontario, Inniskillin/Constellation Brands, Andrew Peller Limited, Napa Valley Vintners, Wines of Germany, Wine Align, Southbrook Vineyards - sponsors of the event luncheon - and The Siren Group Inc.

About CAPS Ontario

The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) http://sommelierscanada.com/ontario/ is a pan-Canadian association, which brings together individuals within the sommelier profession, restaurant services, and other sectors of the wine industry. CAPS is an active member of the ASI (Association de la sommellerie international, www.sommellerie-internationale.com) an organization representing professional sommeliers worldwide, as well as the Pan-American Alliance of Sommeliers (APAS).

Region: Canada

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