We stepped into Mimo’s Culinary School after a meander through London’s Borough Market, a sweet intimation of what the night held in store for us.
Earlier this year, Rémy Martin, one of the finest Cognac houses in the world, challenged UK’s top pastry chefs and sommeliers to team up and compete. An industry first, the Remy Sprint (Rémy Sommelier Pâtissier Rooted In Talent) competition aimed to utilise the duo’s collective talents to create the ultimate dessert pairing with Rémy Martin XO.
It might not be the done thing to dive into a digestif before a meal; however, standing in Mino’s showroom surrounded by exquisite desserts and glasses of the finest Cognac, we knew we were right to have skipped dinner.
Michelin star chef, Claude Bosi, and Imbibe editor, Chris Losh, had sat on the judging panel in July 2019, weighing up the concept, storytelling, taste and wow-factor of each dish before choosing the top five.
We moved around the room, learning, sipping and sampling each dessert pairing. Each pâtissier and sommelier spoke passionately about their inspiration:
WALK THROUGH THE KENTISH COUNTRYSIDE
Scott Goss & James Harrison
“We wanted to showcase the drink throughout the seasons with seasonal fruit so it’s relevant throughout the year, so it will work for autumn fruit like plums too.”
Aurel Istrate & Romina Vasquez
at The Connaught
“Our natural instinct was to use chocolate; the cherry, which is seasonal at the moment compliments the bitter and sweetness of XO perfectly and the addition of malt was inspired by a whisky visit”.
Solene Bonhumeau & Loic Pellegry
at The Five Fields
“We wanted to create a gastronomic experience of drinking cognac with the classic pairings of coffee and chocolate which is traditionally paired with XO – this is our take on that.”
Enzo Housseau & Hugo Danjou
“We wanted to bring the terroir and cognac onto the plate. The dessert is essentially a map of the heart of the Cognac Region: the outer circle of grapefruit and hazelnut and the astina crisp indicates Petite Champagne and the middle is Grande Champagne. The dessert is layered to represent the terroir and the meticulous chalky soil and consists of gianduja feuilletine, hazelnut dacquoise, confit grapefruit and caramelised grapefruit mousse. Topped with earl grey ice cream.”
Sarah Riddle & Marie Lau
“We’re bringing everything back to basics the land is agriculture the vines (the tuile) is what’s discarded. The dessert is like an opera symphony with different layers and will never be the same, even if enjoyed multiple times.”
The winning teams will enjoy the ultimate trip to Cognac in January 2020, while our readers can indulge a little sooner. Each restaurant will be serving their winning dessert pairings from October through to Christmas, so take your lover, family or friends, and treat yourselves.
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