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Cateys 2019: Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award – Sandia Chang

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Cateys 2019: Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award – Sandia Chang

Sponsored by William Grant & Sons

Sommelier Sandia Chang is the founder of Bubbledogs and the two-Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, the business she set up with her husband, chef James Knappett. The pair have become quite a force in hospitality, with Chang developing a list of exciting Champagne suppliers and Knappett leading the 20-cover Kitchen Table, securing a Michelin star in 2014 before a coveted second in 2018.

Kitchen Table offers a tasting menu of meticulously prepared dishes served by Knappett to diners sat at a counter surrounding the kitchen, with accompanying wines selected by Chang. Bubbledogs is the more accessible face of the business, where Chang has used her experience of producers to curate a list of grower Champagnes – many available by the glass – from small and exciting suppliers that are likely to be unknown to guests. The wines are served alongside a menu focused on hotdogs and a range of cheeses. The venture was a bold move, but the pair’s confidence has been borne out by a tranche of accolades.

Chang’s love of wine originated in Cali­fornia, where she began her career, before moving to Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. She then crossed the Atlantic to join René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen.

In 2010 she moved to London to take up a sommelier position at the five-star Berkeley hotel in Mayfair, which offered a more traditional experience than Noma or Per Se. The opening of Bubbledogs followed in 2012, partly inspired by Crif Dogs in New York’s East Village, which is accessed through a secret door. The couple’s fine dining concept, Kitchen Table, opened in a private dining room at the back of the restaurant shortly after.

Chang prides herself on knowing all her suppliers personally, and she makes regular visits to small-batch producers in Champagne to research and curate the restaurant’s wine lists. Bubbledogs was awarded ‘Wine List of the Year’ by Imbibe magazine in 2013 and received a one-star award from World of Fine Wine in 2016.

Chang is a regular wine presenter on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen, where she selects good value supermarket wines to match the dishes cooked by chefs in the studio.

In 2018, Chang was awarded Best Front of House at the GQ Food and Drink Awards. She can now add the Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award to her trophy cabinet.

What the judges said

“Sandia has put together a truly unique concept. She has become a respected personality in the wine world, particularly with Champagne.”
Nicolas Clerc

“Wow! Setting up an unheard-of concept and becoming successful at the highest level is truly amazing.”
Roger Jones

“Sandia has ticked all the boxes for this award. She is a great personality and has had the confidence to take her passion the extra mile and open a business that solely promotes Champagne.”
Xavier Rousset

The shortlist

Sandia Chang Co-founder and sommelier, Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table

Joël Claustre Drinks ambassador, Searcys

Jan Konetzki Director of Wine, Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

Alessandro Palazzi Head barman, Dukes London

The judges

Nicolas Clerc President, Academy of Food & Wine Service

Graham Cox UK business development director, WSET

Roger Jones Owner, the Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Marlborough

Xavier Rousset Founder, Blandford Comptoir, Cabotte and Trade

Marc Verstringhe Chairman, MESV Trust

Sue Williams General manager, Whatley Manor, Malmesbury

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