By guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes
In the bustle of The Modern, the restaurant attached to New York's Museum of Modern Art, Belinda Chang is a sanctuary in comfortable heels, carrying an easy air of smiling calm.
Seeing her in passing, you might think she was someone's guest, about to be spoiled with an elegant meal. You'd never guess that she was the hard-working wine director of the high-end restaurant.
Chang is more than up to the task. She's worked her way around the country, from San Francisco to -- now -- New York. Chicago is Chang's hometown, and she's served in some of the city's finest. She was a sommelier at Charlie Trotter's, corporate director of wine and spirits at Rick Tramonto's Centinare, and wine and service director for some of Tramonto's other Chicago restaurants, including Osteria Via Stato and Osteria di Tramonto.
If you ask Chang, hers is a fabulous job. "I'm having," she says, "the time of my life. For each point in time, there's a right place to be. Right now, for where I am in my career and in my personal life, New York is the most amazing place I could be."
Chang's been in New York for a year "and a few months". How has her life changed since moving to New York?
Her daily commute is a lot easier. In Chicago, she had a daily drive to the city from Buffalo Grove. Now, she has a five-minute walk to work. In fact, just about everything in her life is within walking distance of home.
The walk to work may be short, but Chang puts in the miles underground -- not in the subway, but below the restaurant. The cellars are a trek from the restaurant -- and there's a lot of wine. The Modern's current list runs 43 pages, and some of the bottles bear the restaurant's label. Next door, in MoMA, art may hang on the walls. Here, it's in the glass and on the plate.
What are Chang's choice wines of summer? She likes Edelzwicker, although "like" may be too weak a word.