NextSharkNextShark.com
Latest Newsletter🍵 Problems at Half Moon Bay farmRead

Article

Filipino American sommelier wins James Beard award for essay on ‘white supremacy’ in the wine industry

  • Filipino American sommelier Miguel de Leon won the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for his long-form personal essay, “It’s Time to Decolonize Wine,” published in online magazine Punch in June 2020.

  • De Leon, who currently serves as the wine director of the Michelin-rated Pinch Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, wrote about his experiences as a wine professional of color in the white-dominated industry.

  • He contextualized the appreciation of wine beyond its Eurocentric heritage with his own Filipino heritage and upbringing.

  • De Leon’s works in the media cover the topics of racism, social justice and equity. Last year, he was named the New York Sommelier of the Year.

Asian America Daily - in under 5 minutes

Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories, to your inbox daily, for free!

Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive

Filipino American sommelier Miguel de Leon won the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for his long-form personal essay on ​​dismantling white supremacy in the wine industry.

De Leon, a Philippine-born writer and New York City-based sommelier, received the award on June 11 for his essay, “It’s Time to Decolonize Wine,” which was first published in the online magazine Punch in June 2020. 

His essay won in the Long Form category of the 2022 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award. It is regarded as the Oscars of the culinary industry. 

De Leon, who currently serves as the wine director of the Michelin-rated Pinch Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, wrote about his experiences as a wine professional of color in the white-dominated industry. He contextualized the appreciation of wine beyond its Eurocentric heritage with his own Filipino heritage and upbringing.  

The status quo that white people were so comfortable with has been exposed for its racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and myriad other biases and transgressions wrapped up in the package of white supremacy,” De Leon wrote in his essay. “I’m looking for a better future, and I know what my role is and should be. I do not need to accommodate those who seek to protect the status quo.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Miguel de Leon (@migueld1)

“I consider how much more I can do, as an immigrant, as a Filipino, as an American, as a cis gay man, as an ally, as an advocate, as a sommelier, as a friend and as a son. I don’t want to perpetuate the systems that dehumanized and demeaned me and my BIPOC colleagues,” he added. “I want to dismantle white supremacy in wine. I want to spark change, to remove the barriers of entry, to call in and call out peers and industry leaders about the results of their actions and the consequences of their inactions.”

The sommelier moved to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. He graduated from the University of California Berkeley before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the food industry. He has worked in various restaurants, including Casa Mono, Momofuku, Per Se in New York City and Chez Panisse in Berkeley. 

De Leon’s works in the media cover the topics of racism, social justice and equity. Last year, he was named the New York Sommelier of the Year.

“I hope my being inspires some other Filipino to consider this as a career,” De Leon told ABS-CBN. “I’m not a nurse. I’m not an engineer. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not an architect; doesn’t mean that I can’t be successful. On top of me being American, of me being who I am, it’s especially the fact that I’m Filipino that’s brought me [in the wine industry].”

Featured Image via @migueld1 (left), @beardfoundation (right)

Support our Journalism with a Contribution

Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way.  Thank you for everyone's support. We love you all and can't appreciate you guys enough.

Support NextShark

Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover, Paypal