9th Annual StarChefs Somm Slam

9th Annual StarChefs Somm Slam

Sean Nelson wins the somm slam title

Congratulations to Sean Nelson, our 9th Annual Somm Slam Champion!

Led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, 13 somms competed, and only one could win. Sean Nelson of Vij's in Vancouver did so with poise, expert knowledge, and charm, becoming the first Canadian to ever win the Somm Slam title.


2018 Competing Sommeliers

Andres Blanco | Caracol Restaurant | Houston, TX
Damon Cohen | Cosme | New York, NY

Cara De Lavallade | Willows Lodge | Woodinville, WA
Christy Fuhrman | Aquagrill | New York, NY
Arthur Hon | Union Square Café | New York, NY
Chris Lara | John Howie Steak | Seattle, WA
Aimée Lasseigne New | Bottlerocket | New York, NY
Catherine Morel | 71Above | Los Angeles, CA
Sean Nelson | Vij's Restaurant | Vancouver, BC
Sabrina Schatz | Bobby Flay Steak | North Cape May, NJ 

Nicolas Prieto| Grand Hyatt NY | New York, NY

Competition Alternate

Caitlin Taglia | Resurgens Hospitality| Atlanta, GA
Nicolas Quinones| Cooks & Soldiers | Atlanta, GA 

"Repeat Offenders" Sudden Death Challenge Contestants

Daniel Beedle | Indian Accent | New York, NY
Max Kuller | Fat Baby Inc. | Washington D.C
Kat Thomas | Hakkasan | Las Vegas, NV

Guest Chefs

Cindhura Reddy |SpuntinoDenver, CO
Emily Yuen & Maiko Kyogoku| Bessou | New York, NY

What is the Somm Slam?

A competition that showcases what somms do best: pair food and wine (with some blind tasting and theory thrown in for good measure).


A magnum provided by Graves, Sauternes, Pessac-Léognan and Barsac. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a Breville-Polyscience iSommelier smart decanter, a magnum from Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, a magnum of Chateau Myrat 2015, Sauternes Grand Cru Classe en 1855, and two magnums and a jeroboam of Champagne Collet Art Deco.

Somm Slam Rules & Guidelines

DAY 1: Corkscrews whetted, Day 1 kicks off with the new "Repeat Offenders" sudden death pairing challenge, featuring somms who have competed in past Slams but fell short of winning the whole she-bang. The winning somm will join 11 other competitors in answering rapid-fire theory questions. After showing off their nerdiest wine knowledge, competitors will split into two groups, where Chef Cindhura Reddy will present a dish designed to flummox the pairing skills of each group. Then the race is on to the wine cellar to select the best pairing before returning to the audience of judges to sell, sell, sell. The six somms who display the most poise and knowledge in defending their pairing move on to Day 2.

DAY 2: Getting cut-throat quickly, a blind tasting immediately eliminates one competitor. The remaining five somms are then grilled on esoteric wine trivia, with only the top four moving on, plunging into two more rounds of pairings with dishes from Chef Emily Yuen. The somm with the biggest (wine-soaked) brain, best palate, and that little extra soigné, wins the day, savoring the 9th Annual Somm Slam title.
Somm Slam Official Terms & Conditions

The Somm Slam is open to wine professionals including sommeliers and beverage directors. Applicants submit an online application to be considered. Selection is determined by StarChefs and is based on work experience, pairing philosophy, and examples of specific wine pairings. Those chosen to judge receive a complimentary pass to all three days of the 13th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress ($550 value). Each judge and competitor are responsible for any and all travel and lodging expenses.

12 competitors will compete on Day 1. The top 6 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, and cast their votes for the most successful pairing.