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Certified sommelier Liz Martinez is a hospitality and wine professional with over two decades experience designing award winning wine lists, training staff, and managing service for some of America’s best restaurants. Liz has won awards for wine and service from every major national wine magazine and a range of local publications. In 2019, she was awarded Food & Wine magazine sommelier of the year.
Liz’s career began at Carmine’s on Penn in her hometown of Denver, CO. After a move to San Francisco, her love of wine blossomed while working with Wine Director John Lancaster at Boulevard Restaurant. From there, Rick Bayless brought Liz on as Assistant Sommelier and Dining Room Manager of his award-winning restaurant Topolobampo in Chicago, where Liz devised a new cycle-of-service program and expediting-of-service system resulting in a James Beard nomination for outstanding service, two years in a row.
As the Sommelier and Beverage Director of Chicago’s bustling Purple Pig, Liz created and managed a dynamic wine list to match the restaurant’s ever-changing, playful food menu. The list gained local and national acclaim, resulting in Liz being named one the most buzz worthy somms by The Chicagoist and one of three somms to watch out for by Forbes magazine. During this time Liz hosted three dinners at the James Beard House in New York City. Purple Pig also received a restaurant award from Wine Spectator, an accolade that Liz has won for eight years in a row.
In 2017, Liz relocated to Detroit to serve as Wine Director at luxury steakhouse Prime+Proper, where she curated a wine list from the ground up, bringing new and obscure wines into the Detroit market while also creating training materials for the brand new restaurant’s front of house staff. Her work once again gained national recognition, leading Wine Enthusiast to name Prime+Proper one of its top 100 wine restaurants in the US for two years in a row. It was Liz’s groundbreaking work at Prime+Proper that lead Food & Wine magazine to name her one of its sommeliers of the year.
During her career, Liz has consistently elevated service and wine standards in a wide range of restaurants throughout the United States. Her commitment to thoughtful, humble, organized, polished, and anticipatory service continues to delight guests and draw widespread acclaim.