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Young Sommelier and Young Chef 2022 announced

Published:  20 May, 2022

Three new rising stars of the hospitality world were unveiled this week at the Chaine des Rotisseurs GB Young Professional Awards, held at the newly opened Harrods Social by Jason Atherton. Over 60 guests joined the six finalists for a signature lunch to celebrate their achievements.

In the sommelier contest, Frederick Johnson, 25, from the Fat Duck, Bray, won the coveted Young Sommelier of the Year title. He will represent Great Britain against the rest of the world this September in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Liam Rogers, also 25, of Gleneagles in Scotland, and a former MasterChef, The Professionals finalist, was crowned Young Chef of the Year and goes forward to compete in the World Championships in Mexico at the beginning of October.

The best palate in the competition – Polish Magdalena Babik, 22, was awarded the Gerard Basset Trophy in honour of the much-missed sommelier and educator.

“It just goes to show what superb young talent we have in the industry now, and we are proud to be nurturing these embryonic and promising careers,” said Phillip Evins, bailli délégué for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB. “The Chaine congratulates these worthy winners and wishes them every success in the future; we will certainly see more of them, I am sure.”

Young Sommelier of the Year, Freddie Johnson from Fulham, was thrilled to win; he said: “I am delighted and quite surprised as this was the first competition I have ever entered. I’m now studying for the MS qualification, so this gives me a wonderful experience.”

He added: “Nothing really grabbed me at school, but I did have a passion for food and wine”.

Not sure that cooking was for him, he joined fledgling Vagabond Wines and realised he wanted to take wine seriously. Plumpton College and a degree in wine and business studies followed, and then Phil Howard snapped him up for his Church Road restaurant. But, unfortunately, Lockdown meant there was little time to spend on the floor, so instead, young and ambitious Freddie took over the wine list, growing it to 120 listings.

After a year, Johnson felt like he needed more experience to learn from the best, so he moved to the Fat Duck, where he is now in a team of eight somms.

He said: “It’s quite a learning curve, but I am proud of what I have achieved already. It has certainly stood me in good stead today – I suppose you could call me a rough diamond, now being polished!”.