The SOMM Journal

May 2014

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54 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2014 { real somm stories } "MY PASSION TO WORK WITH AND MEET PEOPLE? It all started back when I was going to hotel school in India. And then when I was working in a French fine-dining restaurant in Dubai, I took a real liking to wine and how it fits with the food of that culture." John Gomes is not just referring to how wine fits with French culture. He's referring more broadly to the culture of the hospitality industry, of which he's gained more than two decades of international experience with a number of luxury properties, including Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. Today, Gomes is F&B Director for both the Spanish Colonial–styled Omni La Mansión del Rio and the modern Mokara Hotel & Spa (also Omni); both are located on San Antonio's River Walk and both offer world-class fine dining. But each property is different in personality, different in clientele and different in overall logistics. "That is a challenge," Gomes begins while sitting in Las Canarias, the Mediterranean-influenced New American restaurant at La Mansión; but then he corrects himself, "an opportunity." Having the flexibility to address opportunities, Gomes insists, is important when it comes to building and maintaining two separate wine programs—whether, for instance, he is taking the time to evaluate several Sancerres before introducing just one to the by-the-glass section of the wine list at Ostra, Mokara's elegant seafood restaurant, or working with Chef de Cuisine Robbie Nowlin to devise dishes to showcase wines from Washington State for several months at Las Canarias. With San Antonio growing as a convention-friendly city, flexibility is also key when it comes to beverage costs and inventory control. Gomes utilizes the convention crowds as an audience for showcasing some of his high-profile wines. "We have a very extensive wine list at Las Canarias. Some of those wines have been on the list for many years. We're honored to have them, but they might have been purchased long in the past for a much different concept than we are today" he says. "I'm working with the F&B leadership teams to scale down what's on-hand. When there is a convention in town, we have been aggressive and creative in showcas- ing our exclusive collection to guests who desire selections to please a connoisseur's palate. Overall, this helps in our inventory reduction and allows an opportunity to introduce new vintners and varietals to our customers. SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES: John Gomes at the Omni La Mansión del Rio on San Antonio's River Walk. DIRECTOR OF FOOD & BEVERAGE, OMNI LA MANSIÓN DEL RIO AND MOKARA HOTEL & SPA, SAN ANTONIO BY ANTHONY HEAD / PHOTO BY KIRK WEDDLE John Gomes episode Somm Journal June/July.indd 54 5/9/14 12:09 PM

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