Dennis has more than 25 years of experience as a restaurant professional. As the Head Sommelier of The French Laundry from 2008-2015, he led one of the finest wine & spirits programs in the world.


In 2010, Wine & Spirits called Dennis the “Best New Sommelier” and in 2012 he earned the Master Sommelier Diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2018, Dennis founded Protégé, an upscale neighborhood restaurant in Palo Alto, California. Protégé was awarded a Michelin star during its first year of operation, a designation the restaurant has earned every year since opening.

Dennis has been featured in The World of Fine Wine, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits Magazine, and Art Culinaire. He has written published articles for The World of Fine Wine and Decanting Napa Valley: The Cookbook.


Where are you working currently and how has being a MS supported you in your current role?

I work dinner service every night at Protégé, the upscale neighborhood restaurant I launched in 2018.


Where were you working when you passed?

I was the Head Sommelier at The French Laundry when I earned the Master Sommelier Diploma in 2012.


What made you want to become an MS?

In 2006, I was inspired by Doug Frost and Bob Bath during my Introductory Course and decided I wanted to be an MS when I grew up. Unfortunately, I was already 40 years old at the time!


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

My advice to candidates is to enjoy the journey and to always continue building your career. You don’t get paid just to be an MS… You still need to earn your living.


What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about?

My desert island wine would be a Blanc de Blancs Champagne from one of my favorite Grower-Producers (RM). Over the last several years, sake has become my favorite beverage, preferably a well-balanced Muroka Nama Genshu.