"Taste of Discovery" Contest: Le Meridien Malta in the Final

Stefano Zerafa, lead barman in the Kudéta Lounge Bar at Le Méridien St Julians Hotel & Spa in Malta, placed fourth in the finals of the ‘Taste of Discovery’ coffee challenge, held last month in Trieste, Italy.

St Julians, Malta, October 07, 2009 --(PR.com)-- Stefano's entry, "Mojito Illy", was selected by Le Méridien master barista Fritz Storm to make the finals from among 70 entrants in Le Méridien hotels around the world. Three pairs of recipes were selected for the finals, a hot coffee recipe, a cold coffee recipe and an alcoholic coffee recipe.

Devansh Ashar, from Le Royal Méridien Mumbai, Stefano’s direct opponent, won the contest with his "Illy Caffé Mojito".

"This was a wonderful experience", said Stefano, who has 13 years experience and has worked at Le Méridien St Julians Hotel & Spa since the hotel opened in 2006. His three-day stay as a guest of Illy Caffé included a tour of the factory where he was impressed with how motivated the staff were and with the cleanliness and organisation. "It is impressive to realise how many processes coffee goes through before it gets to us and even how the tins used are made."

The finals were judged by Mr Storm and Illy Caffé chairman and CEO Andrea Illy. After preparing the cocktail, during which Stefano was required to explain the process, he was asked why he chose this particular drink.

"It is not easy to sell an alcoholic drink with coffee to the Maltese", Stefano told the judges. "Since the mojito is well known in Malta, I decided to mix it with coffee and the result was very good. It has been accepted by our clients."

The judges liked Stefano’s mojito but the stronger coffee taste in his direct opponent’s drink won them over. "For the Maltese palate, the coffee taste does not need to be so strong", he observed. Stefano worked in several four- and five-star hotels before joining Le Méridien St Julians Hotel & Spa. He also worked as a barman in parties, concerts and cafeterias to gain experience. A member of the Malta Bartenders Guild, he attended the European John White course, organised by the International Bartenders Association in 2003.

"I congratulate Stefano on having achieved this creditable result in this international contest", Angela Saliba, General Manager of Le Méridien St Julians Hotel & Spa, said. "He understands the tastes of his clients and came up with an original cocktail that is gaining acceptance even in our Kudéta Lounge Bar".

Mojito Illy recipe:
• Illy espresso ristretto
• 3 cl Absolute vanilla vodka
• 1 cl peppermint cordial
• 2 cl sugar syrup
• 8-10 mint leaves (depending on size)
• Ginger ale (to top up)
• Ice cubes

Prepare the coffee first and leave to cool. Throw mint in glass. Muddle to extract essential oils. Fill the glass half full with ice cubes. Throw in all the ingredients. Stir gently but well. Throw in some more ice and top up with ginger ale. Use straw, stirrer and garnish with more mint.

Le Meridien St Julians Hotel & Spa
Ludivine Bendotti
+356 2311 0000