New York City sommelier and writer Miguel de Leon beat out some of America’s best food writers to win the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for his feature-length essay, “Time to decolonize wine”who contextualized his experiences as a Filipino and a person of color in winemaking.
The article was first published in the online magazine punch in the year 2020.
In this award-winning Filipino-born wine expert essay, he writes about some of the subtle assaults he experienced as a colored wine professional in a white-dominated industry and his struggle to reconcile European wine-tasting papers and descriptions with his Filipino heritage and upbringing.
De Leon, who is director of wine at Pinch Chinese in Manhattan, wrote, “The status quo that white people were so comfortable with has been subjected to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and many other prejudices and abuses that have been encapsulated in the supremacy package. White. I am looking for a better future, I know my role and what it should be. I do not need to accommodate those who seek to protect the status quo.”
“I got into wine because of its ability to connect people. We share bottles, we share stories, we share ourselves and our vulnerabilities. I connect with wine in a similar way in which alliance and advocacy lead me to connect with my humanity and with the humanity of others. Structures that aim to keep people like me out of this space do not Understand why wine exists.”
De Leon moved to the United States from the Philippines when he was 10, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the food and beverage industry. He has worked at restaurants such as Casa Mono, Momofuku and Per Se in New York City and Chez Panisse in California.
It is another high point for Filipinos in the American food and beverage industry this year after Chicago bruise It became the first Filipino restaurant to win a Michelin star and Food and wine Washington, DC-based PogiBoy’s ube tocino Burger featured on the cover of its June issue, which also honored other innovative Filipino chefs across the country.
read: Obi Tuccino’s burger appears on the cover of Food & Wine magazine honoring Filipino chefs
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