Sommelier Fernando Beteta of Tenzing Wine and Spirits - Biography

Chicago, IL

January 2011

A native of Guatemala, Beteta spent a good chunk of his childhood living in the United States, as both his parents worked for international hotel groups. The family returned to Guatemala when he was a teenager, where they ran their own restaurant, La Fonda de la Calle Real, in the Guatemalan city of Antigua. Beteta soon set off to study hotel management in Florence, Italy and at the prestigious Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland. He later apprenticed in high-end hotels and restaurants throughout Europe and in Thailand. With a gift for languages (he speaks four) and hotel management degree in hand, he began to build his career.

Beteta caught the wine bug while working as a restaurant manager for the award-winning Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago. When the sommelier position at NoMI at Chicago’s Park Hyatt opened, he took the job and made the decision to change his career direction and prepare for the Master Sommelier exam, which he passed six years later.

As Wine Director of NoMI, Beteta oversaw the restaurant’s wine cellar, featuring over 10,000 bottles of wine. He was named Best Young Sommelier Midwest by l’Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and took First Runner Up for The Best Sommelier in America Competition, ASA in 2009. Master Sommelier Beteta received the 2005 Chicago Rising Star Sommelier award and was named one of America’s Best New Sommeliers in 2007 by Wine & Spirits magazine. He has been a frequent contributor to the “Don and Roma Morning Show” on Chicago’s WLS radio station, Wine Spectator’s “Wine Talk,” and the Sommelier Journal. He was named by Crain’s Chicago Business on their list of “40 under 40,” and was named Guatemala’s Person of the Year in 2009 in the Hospitality and Restaurant Industry category.

Beteta continues to believe that being a sommelier is more of a lifestyle than a job, and is a frequent traveler and observer of the world. He currently is working with Ken Fredrickson, MS, at Tenzig Wine and Spirits, a new wine and spirits distribution company in Chicago. His future plans involve a return to his hometown in Guatemala, where he’d like to explore crafting rum with his wife, Ann, and their dog, Bella.