How I Got Here: Sandia Chang

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with sommelier and Bubbledogs co-founder Sandia Chang

Related tags: Restaurant, Bubbledogs, Sommelier, Sandia Chang

The sommelier and Bubbledogs co-founder reflects on her career to date, what motives her, and what advice she would give to those looking to make it in the business.

Why restaurants?
When all the other girls in school wanted to be princesses, lawyers and doctors, I wanted to be a waitress. Creating great times around food and drink has always been a strong foundation in my family. 

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Do harvests in vineyards when you get the chance. 

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)? 
I really love what Smoking Goat and Kiln do – the food is incredible.

What motivates you?
Making people happy. And that’s not just guests in restaurants, that’s also the happiness of staff as well. 

What keeps you up at night?
The well-being of our staff.

What time do you wake up​? 
7am.

Coffee or tea?​ 
Coffee.

How often do you check your email?​ 
About 10 times a day.

How do you let off steam?​ 
I find a place to just sit in isolation and silence.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?​ 
A night on the sofa!

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?​ 
Egg fried rice. It was the first dish my mother taught me. I still use her method today and cook it for my daughter all the time.

Typical Sunday?​ 
A morning walk on Hampstead Heath with our dog Paxo and our daughter Shea. Afternoons are for catching up with house work whilst drinking. And we’ll always finish with a big Sunday dinner with the family (usually a roast). 

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?​ 
Moving to Denmark to work at Noma.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Thomas Keller…. He taught me that it’s all about finesse. 

Worst business decision?
Working with my husband.

Best business decision?
Working with my husband.

Favourite holiday destination?​ 
Los Angeles – I love going there and seeing my family.

What are you currently reading?​ 
Tesco magazine!

What boxset are you currently watching?​ 
The Fall.

What was your dream job growing up?​ 
A waitress!

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
You’re never too good for anything. Always remember to stay humble.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I would give those working in it a better work / life balance.

Bio

Having studied for an an Advance Culinary Certification at the Culinary Institute of America, Chang began her career working on the cheese and charcuterie sales counter at US grocery store Dean and Deluca in Napa Valley. She started in hospitality as as chef de partie at All Seasons Bistro in California in 2003, before moving on to hold the same role at Bouley in New York. In 2008 Chang went to work as a head waiter at Noma in Copenhagen, before coming to the UK in 2009 where she worked as junior assistant manager for Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley. In 2012, following a stint as assistant general manager at Roganic, Chang launched Bubbledogs with her partner and chef James Knappett.

Related topics: People

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