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Chicago Gourmet - bio: Shayn Bjornholm
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Shayn Bjornholm, MS

Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas

Shayn is recognized as one of the foremost wine professionals in the world, utilizing his innate talents, highly charged work ethic and unerring pursuit of excellence to become a humble leader in all facets of the industry - including public appearances, wine program development, wine and spirits teaching, beverage writing and, above all, the mentoring of industry professionals towards realizing their dreams.

 Based in the sublime city of Seattle, Shayn is currently the Examination Director for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. In his role, he oversees all levels of Examinations in content and delivery, including the prestigious Maser Sommelier Diploma. Previously, he served as Education Director for the Washington State Wine Commission, the state marketing arm for the world-class wines of Washington state, directing content for such highly lauded yearly efforts as Taste Washington! Seminars and Road Trip Washington Wine. Prior to that, Shayn was Wine Director of one the most respected restaurant wine programs in the United States as Wine Director at Canlis Restaurant. During his tenure, Canlis garnered numerous awards for its vinous efforts, including the Pacific Northwest’s only Wine Spectator “Grand Award” each year to run the restaurant’s total to 10 consecutively. The program was also named a “Top 6 Most Trustworthy Wine Programs of 2004”  by Gentleman’s Quarterly, “ 2005 National Wine Program of the Year”  by Santé Magazine and “Best Wine Restaurant in Seattle”  by Food and Wine, Gourmet, Seattle Magazine and The Seattle Times.  Under his tutelage, two Canlis Restaurant sommeliers were awarded the prestigious Wine and Spirits “Top Young Sommeliers in the United States” in consecutive years – the only time one restaurant has achieved such a feat.

 While pushing Canlis Restaurant to new heights, Shayn attained some remarkable personal achievements. In 2005, he earned the title of Master Sommelier on his first effort at the examination. For this, he was awarded one of the wine industry’s most prestigious recognitions, the Krug Cup - just the 10th person in the world at the time to do so.   He was recognized as “2006 Sommelier of the Year” by Seattle Magazine, “2005 Regional Wine Professional of the Year” by Santé,  ‘2004 Most Trustworthy Sommeliers in the United States” by Gentleman’s Quarterly and “2004 Sommelier of the Year” by The Seattle Times. He has been a wine columnist for Seattle Magazine with bi-monthly articles investigating the Pacific Northwest’s booming wine industry, and is also published in The Chalk Hill Sommelier Guide, The Sommelier Journal and Luxe. Shayn’s love of the stage and joy in educating people about the wonders of wine has lead him to become an entertaining fixture on the national wine festival circuit, having appeared as a panelist at The Aspen Food and Wine Classic, Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, Cornucopia and Taste Washington!, among others.  As an expert voice on wine, he has appeared in articles in Food and Wine, Wine Spectator, Food Arts, Wine and Spirits, Gourmet and Wine Enthusiast. In 2007, Shayn was also featured on the highly popular television series, Fine Living Network’s “I Want Your Job” as the sommelier everyone wants to be.

Shayn’s most treasured position in the industry, however, is as a wine educator and mentor. He has been a course instructor and examination adjudicator since 2005 for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, and one of the quickest in its history to be invited to adjudicate the rigorous Master Sommelier examination. From 2002 to 2006, he taught the 12 week classroom style Level One and Two courses for the International Sommelier Guild. Even amidst such recognizable achievements, it is the one-on-one, under-the-radar mentoring of the best and brightest the wine industry has to offer that stands as Shayn’ highest professional achievement.

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