3rd Annual StarChefs.com Somm Slam

3rd Annual StarChefs.com Somm Slam

Hosted once again by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, this year's Somm Slam challenged 12 competitors to test their skills in the uncharted waters of a real-time, mano-a-mano pairing competition, supplemented with high-pressure blind tastings and a game-show style Q&A for the detail-oriented (detail-obsessed) sommelier.

3rd Annual StarChefs.com Somm Slam
Emcee Fred Dexheimer and Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya get Day 1 of the 3rd Annual StarChefs.com Somm Slamm started.
  • Round 1

    Ever seen a sommelier sweat? Round 1 threw out all (okay, most) of the rules of front-of-house propriety in exchange for the intensity of the game show format, complete with red buzzers and a live (sommelier) studio audience. Dexheimer assumed the host role, and led the way as our somms were challenged with blind tastings, trivia, and a cheese pairing showdown, presented by Michele Buster of Forever Cheese. The prize wasn't cash—it was the right to move onto Day 2.

    Justin Amick
    Christopher Bates
    Julie Dalton
    Mariya Kovacheva
    Dan Pilkey
    Winn Roberton

    Round 2

    Only six competitors emerged from the polite mayhem of Round 1, but those who did certainly earned the right to pair a select cabinet of wines with surprise dishes prepared by Chef Justin Bogle of NYC's Gilt. It's the craft of the sommelier under a microscope—and on a timer.

    Julie Dalton
    Mariya Kovacheva

    Round 3

    Day Tree featured the top two competitors, pairing mavens who earned the right to go mano a mano (and bottle to bottle) against their sommelier match. Dishes by Chicago Chef Dirk Flanigan challenged their palates, along with a blind tasting and mystery challenge.

    Mariya Kovacheva

    Grand Prize:

    This year's winner will walk away with a weeklong, all-expenses-paid tour of the Rhône Valley with a stop at the annual Côte Rôtie festival—not to mention a year's worth of bragging rights.
    Host Fred Dexheimer, Runner-up Julie Dalton, Somm Slam Winner Mariya Kovacheva, Antoinette Bruno, Will Blunt, and Arnaud Pignol, Rhone Valley Wines, Inter Rhone CEO
    Host Fred Dexheimer, Runner-up Julie Dalton, Somm Slam Winner Mariya Kovacheva, Antoinette Bruno, Will Blunt, and Arnaud Pignol, Rhone Valley Wines, Inter Rhone CEO
  • Somm Slam Competitors

    Hotel Fauchere – Milford, PA
    Tocqueville – New York, NY
    Wit and Wisdom – Baltimore, MD
    Viognier – San Mateo, CA
    The Heathman – Portland, OR
    Café Boulud – Palm Beach, FL
    The Spence – Atlanta, GA
    Wine Consultant – New York, NY
    Hilton Hotels – Chicago, IL
    Winn Roberton
    Bourbon Steak – Washington, DC
    Martine's Wines – New York, NY
    Bill Summerville
    La Belle Vie – Minneapolis, MN
  • StarChefs.com Somm Slam Official Terms & Conditions

    The Somm Slam is open to wine professionals including sommeliers and beverage directors. StarChefs.com is accepting competitor applications until July 1, 2012. Applicants must submit a completed application to be considered. Selection will be 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 7th 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 all three days of the Congress:
    Sunday, September 30
    Monday, October 1
    Tuesday, October 2

    Competitors must be available all three days and will be asked to judge when not competing.

    During the event, 12 competitors will compete on Day 1. The top six competitors from Day 1 will advance to Day 2, and the top two competitors will move on to Day 3 of the competition. 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.

  • Somm Slam Judging

    Judges will be selected by our committee of non-competing sommeliers and wine experts. Each Slam will be judged by an audience of approximately 40 sommeliers and wine professionals, who’ll get to drink in their peers pairings and taste dishes from some of the country's best chefs. And all of the judges will enjoy a free three-day pass to the ICC.