Competition day rolled around, and I felt good. I was organised, planned, rehearsed and confident. I had 2 great tasting drinks that I knew the judges would love – if they got the cold Irish Coffee.
I arrived on site at the Olympia before everyone else and found a quiet space to get organised. I had a checklist of station set-ups, a trolley, and a backing team to help me get organised, kepe me hydrated and focussed. I felt like Lennox Lewis.
I was able to catch the first performance before heading back stage to take my preparation time. I had everything organised, everything perfect and everything ready to succeed.
Then the wheels fell off.
I had been having difficulty with my Irish Coffee cream all week preparing, as when I pre-shook the bottles, the cream gradually thickened over time and became immobile and essentially butter. I had worked a way around this in my rehearsals, but when it came to the day, I made a huge and obvious mistake, and I shook the cream an hour before I went on stage.
By the time I started to pour, the cream was solid. Nothing came out of the bottle at all, and I always have a spare on stage with me – that was solid too.
I knew that the game was up – my drinks were ruined, and I stood no chance of delivering what I had worked so hard for over the previous year. It was incredibly hard to grit my teeth and finish the set, but I wanted the judges to taste my other cocktail too.
I had other issues too – the espresso machine wasn’t working how I expected, my music didn’t play and I ran over time. Each of them might have been OK in isolation, and I think if I had finished on time, I might have crept in, but it wasn’t to be.
Sang Ho Park was a brilliant, worthy Champion who did us proud at the World Championship, and Maja Jaworska in second was a bolt from the blue in her first competition and with only a week’s practice. I was overjoyed, and extremely lucky to finish third.
My first reaction was that I had come back, tried to defend my title and come up short. it was time to hang up the Boston and Hawthorn and move on.
Thing is, I had another idea, and it would not stop badgering me until I did some more playing with it.