Wine Director Belinda Chang of Maple & Ash - Biography

Chicago, IL

September 2016

Before she became one of the hottest sommeliers in the business, Belinda Chang was a pre-med student, pursuing a degree in biochemistry at Rice University in Houston. And while it’s tempting to infer that Chang pairs with scientific acumen, her pairing style is more art than science.

Chang got her first taste of the industry as a student, working as a head waiter at her university’s faculty club. Bitten by the restaurant bug, Chang first headed to the back of house, cooking in the kitchen of Houston’s Cafe Annie. Though she was a talented cook, Chang had so much personality and passion in describing food and wine that the restaurant’s manager encouraged her to hit the dining room, where she became the only female captain on the floor. Before she knew it, Chang was putting pre-med studies aside and working her way to sommelier.

She got off to a good start at Charlie Trotter’s in her native Chicago. And Trotter (and his 26,000-bottle cellar) wouldn’t be the only big name in Chang’s career. She worked at some of the best restaurants in Chicago, Rick Tramanto’s Osteria Via Stato among them. Chang’s palate took her everywhere from San Francisco to New York, overseeing wine lists under Laurent Gras at Fifth Floor and putting together beverage programs for The Monkey Bar and Danny Meyer’s The Modern, where she won James Beard’s 2011 “Outstanding Wine Service” award. Chang is now back in Chicago heading up the extensive beverage program at Maple & Ash, a classic steakhouse reinvented.