10th Annual StarChefs Somm Slam

10th Annual StarChefs Somm Slam


We want you! The 10th Annual Somm Slam has officially launched, and the StarChefs team would love for you to apply to judge (applications to compete are no longer being accepted). If you’ve never participated, the Somm Slam is a real-time pairing, blind tasting, and theory competition that showcases the best somms in the country (that would be you) all in the swirl of the 14th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress. (More details below)

Apply to Judge

This year's competitors 
Jienna Basaldu | The Morris | San Francisco
Charlotte Berdensey | Momofuku Ssam Bar | New York
Eduardo Bolaños | The Mozza Group | Los Angeles
Chris Coker | Bourbon Steak | Washington, D.C.
Vanessa Da Silva | Ninety Acres | Peapack, NJ
Jonathan Eichholz | No Ceilings | New York
Matthew Landry | Stable House Bistro | Vancouver
Candace Olsen | Aureole & Charlie Palmer | New York
Sarah Plath | The NoMad | New York
Scott Zoccolillo | Del Frisco’s Steakhouse | Philadelphia

Repeat Offenders
Elli Benchimol | Joe’s Seafood | Washington D.C.
Aimée Lasseigne New | Lieb Cellars & Bridge Lane Wine | Mattituck, NY
Peter Nelson | Puritan & Co. | Cambridge, MA

What is the Somm Slam?


This year, 12 somms will compete in front of an audience of 50 judges made up of their wine-pro peers. Applications to compete should be submitted by July 15th (it should only take a few minutes). Applications to judge will be accepted on an ongoing basis. The competition will take place on Days 2 & 3 of The Chefs Congress—Monday, October 27th and Tuesday, October 28th. Please apply or, if you know someone who thrives on competition (or judging), encourage them to. We’re looking forward to seeing your face at Somm Slam 2019! 

Prizes (From 2018)

A trip to Spain! A magnum provided by Graves, Sauternes, Pessac-Léognan and Barsac. A Breville-Polyscience iSommelier smart decanter, a magnum from Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, a magnum of Chateau Myrat 2015, a bottle of Sauternes Grand Cru Classe en 1855, and two more magnums plus a jeroboam of Champagne Collet Art Deco

Somm Slam Rules & Guidelines*

DAY 1: Corkscrews whetted, Day 1 kicks off with the "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 a chef 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. The somm with the biggest (wine-soaked) brain, best palate, and that little extra soigné, wins the day, savoring the 10th Annual Somm Slam title.

*subject to change for the 10th Anniversary year
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 14th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress ($550 value). Each judge and competitor is responsible for any and all travel and lodging expenses.

12 competitors will compete on Day 1. Judges will be responsible for tasting a sample of two dishes each day and the corresponding 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. Judges should also be prepared to ask questions, challenge contestants, and make provacative comments. Lets get rowdy, yall!