The SOMM Journal

April / May 2018

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Page 86 of 108

86 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2018 { somm life } Jill Zimorski (center) of Chicago made a clean sweep of the Somms Under Fire awards, winning an internship in Burgundy, a daytrip to Taittinger, and a trip to Seattle to experience Taste Washington. Service and Smarts CHICAGO'S JILL ZIMORSKI EXCELS AT THE SEVENTH ANNUAL SOMMS UNDER FIRE COMPETITION by Lori Moffatt / photos by Ashleigh Amoroso 86 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2018 WITH HER GIN-BASED cocktail inspired by Beyoncé and a trio of daring wine-and-food pairings created in front of a live audience, Chicago-based Advanced Sommelier Jill Zimorski swept the awards at the seventh annual Somms Under Fire competition in Austin, Texas. Held January 28 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Somms Under Fire "showcases the essence of what a sommelier's job should be, which is service," says James Tidwell, one of four Master Sommeliers on the judging panel. "Our goal as sommeliers is to allow guests to have a wonderful time and to facilitate that." For this year's event, Somms Under Fire Founder Diane Dixon's wine, food, and travel company Keeper Collection formed a strategic alliance with TEXSOM and the TEXSOM International Wine Awards. TEXSOM's annual August conference in Dallas is one of the nation's most respected gatherings of wine professionals, and its February wine awards draw nearly 4,000 entries from around the globe. While Master Sommelier Devon Broglie, the event's co-emcee, believes that "to this day, folks still feel intimidated by wine," he says gatherings like Somms Under Fire aim to accommodate both experts and novices by "focusing on translating expertise into terms that anyone can understand." "It's about being able to speak to a high-end collector and also to talk to someone who rarely drinks wine," explains Broglie, who serves as the Global Wine Buyer for Whole Foods Market. "At Somms Under Fire, we get to watch them do it all in the moment in front of a crowd." The creative synergy between TEXSOM and Keeper Collection—with their respective focuses on industry education and consumers—paved the way for a year of "firsts" at Somms Under Fire, including the event's first Champagne sponsor, the iconic French Champagne house Taittinger. The sheer talent and energy at the event—between the 20-plus volunteer somms facilitating the evening's service, the seven Master Sommeliers attending, and the banter between Broglie and co-emcee June Rodil—meant we were in for a memorable evening of laughter, learning, and beautifully-paired wine and food.

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