5th Annual StarChefs.com Somm Slam
Only one somm will rise to the top (like a pristine, persistent tiny bubble in a golden glass of sparkling) to become the Champagne of somms at the 5th Annual Somm Slam, a real-time, mano-a-mano pairing competition. After decanting the applicants, 10 of the best beverage professionals from across the country will be chosen to compete, all in the grape-soaked swirl of the 9th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress.
Day 2 of Somm Slam: A Pairing Party In Your Mouth at ICC 2013 - New York, NY
Finalist Mariya Kovacheva pours her wine pairing for the judges
The sommelier contestants take notes for the blind tasting
Somm Slam Round 1: Sommelier Alexander LaPratt of DB Bistro Moderne (New York)
Sharpen your corkscrews, Day 1 kicks off with the first round of five somms answering rapid-fire questions in front of an all-somm audience and judging panel. After showing off their nerdiest wine knowledge in the most jargon-y wine-speak possible, Chef Josh Thomsen of Agricola will present a dish to pair. Then the race is on to the wine cellar to make the best selection and return to the audience of peers and judges to sell, sell, sell. The five somms who display the most poise and knowledge in defending their pairing will move on to Day 2.
Day 2 gets cut-throat quickly. We’ll see who bleeds wine with a blind tasting that immediately cuts one competitor.The remaining four somms will be grilled on esoteric wine trivia, with only the top three moving on and plunging into two more rounds of pairings—this time the dishes are prepared by Chef Jason Dady of San Antonio’s Umai Mi. The somm with the biggest (wine-soaked) brain, best palette, and that little extra on-the-floor magic will win the day, saboring the 5th Annual Somm Slam title and bragging rights for a year.
Three finalists will win iPads courtesy of Uptown Networks. The grand prize winner will go on two European excursions: Rhône Valley Wines will send the winner to France to attend Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône and Nespresso will fly the winner to its Swiss headquarters to learn about the harmonization of coffee and wine.
Meet the Competitors
- Julie DeFriend of The Oakroom | Louisville, KY
- John Filkins of Potomac Selections | Hanover, PA
- Diana Roderique of Trummer's on Main | Clifton, VA
- Jonathan Ross of Eleven Madison Park | New York, NY
- Jason Wagner of Fung Tu | New York, NY
- Carl York of Craigie on Main | Cambridge, MA
- Erik Liedholm of John Howie Restaurants | Seattle, WA
- Michael Dolinski of Junoon | New York, NY
- Kyungmoon Kim of Jungsik | New York, NY
- Jose Aguirre of Kimpton Hotels | San Francisco, CA
StarChefs.com Somm Slam Official Terms & Conditions
The Somm Slam is open to wine professionals including sommeliers and beverage directors. Applicants must submit a completed application to be considered. Selection is determined by StarChefs.com and will be based on work experience, pairing philosophy, and examples of specific wine pairings. Those chosen to judge will receive a complimentary pass to all three days of the 9th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress ($795 value). Each judge and competitor will be responsible for any and all travel and lodging expenses.
The competition will take place on the first two days of the Congress:
Sunday, October 26
Monday, October 27
Competitors must be available both days and will be asked to judge when not competing.
During the event, 10 competitors will compete on Day 1. The top 5 competitors from Day 1 will advance to Day 2. Judges will be responsible for tasting a sample of the dish and wine pairings chosen by each contestant. Judges will list their feedback on a ballot provided by StarChefs.com, and cast their votes for the most successful pairing.