DWWA Judge Profile: Christopher Tanghe MS

Christopher Tanghe MS is a judge at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)

Christopher Tanghe MS

Chris is a New Englander, having grown up throughout upstate New York, Amherst, Boston and Cape Cod. His foray into restaurants began at the age of 13, when he lied about his age and became the dishwasher for a country club in Pocasset, MA. Soon after, Chris learned basic knife skills and eventually began working on the line, and by junior year of high school assumed the role of sous chef. Directly after graduation, Chris attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY to build upon the skills learned on The Cape. Part of the standard program curriculum was a wine course that provided Chris’ first exposure to the magic of pairing wine & food, as well as its rich history. The ever-evolving world of wine captured his interest but was put on the back burner as Chris continued to focus on the kitchen (and being still under 21, it was a logistically challenging pursuit).

Following his time at the CIA, Chris worked in restaurants all around the country including Denver, Scottsdale, Santa Barbara, and eventually Seattle. Along the way he took an interest in the service side to get a clearer picture of how restaurants operate as a whole, thus was his introduction to hospitality and a shift in his long-term focus. Having a closer interaction with the guest and creating a memorable experience through graciousness and knowledge gave him a new challenge, as well the opportunity to resume his wine studies. Chris began to take classes with the International Sommelier Guild, which at the time were taught by Master Sommelier Shayn Bjornholm. The amount of knowledge, excitement & confidence demonstrated by Shayn inspired and convinced Chris to take seriously the pursuit of attempting the Master Sommelier exam.

Chris passed the Certified exam in 2008 while working as the Wine Director and General Manager for Crush restaurant in Seattle, followed by the Advanced exam in 2009 while Wine Director for Matt’s in the Market. In preparation for the Master’s exam, Chris spent time working with Canlis, a Seattle icon of fine dining for 64 years with a 2,400 bottle list, followed by working with Rajat Parr to open Seattle’s RN74 where he specialized in Burgundy & Bordeaux  with vintages dating back to the 1940’s. During his first attempt at the MS exam in 2012, Chris passed two of three sections, service and theory, and in the following year honed his tasting skills to great success – he earned the title of Master Sommelier in May of 2013.

After achieving his MS Diploma, Chris took on an opportunity to design a new Spanish concept restaurant from the ground up focusing on Catalonian cuisine and wine. Chris hired and trained a complete front of house team and created one of the most unique wine lists in Seattle at the time. He was awarded with Food & Wine’s Sommelier of the Year award for his efforts.

Next came a move to the distribution world where he was a portfolio manager and educator for Vinum Importing servicing Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Maintaining relationships with over 300 producers, weekly staff training and inventory management were added to Chris’ skillset over the course of 2.5 years.

In his new station as Chief Instructor with GuildSomm, Chris will spearhead masterclasses across the country, conduct webinars and contribute editorial content to guildsomm.com. He is ecstatic to be in a position to pay it forward to the next generation of talented sommeliers and play a prominent role in the professional community.

Chris was first a judge in 2016.

Follow Chris on Twitter @cmtanghe