The SOMM Journal

December 2017 / January 2018

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Page 77 of 124

{ }  77 { q&a } Ira Norof: How does your European background help with running F&B in the U.S.? Mirko Marchi: I started early at 13 at a wedding venue in Tuscany, then went to hospitality school and found my way to the bartend- ing side of the business. I became certified by the Italian bartenders' association and worked in Italy, London, Spain, and Egypt. In 2005, I won the world championship in bartending, and I finished my master's degree in hospitality as well. All of these times wine was also part of the training, so I bring a knowledge of service and professionalism. What are the challenges of supervising and selecting product for numerous outlets in one property? It's actually good to have to be involved in many levels for differ - ent customers. Our main restaurant Hook & Spear specializes in sustainable coastal cuisine. We seek out wines that are certified Salmon-Safe or SIP [Sustainability in Practice Certified], and we are proud of the selection of both red and white wines for any one customer's preference in both price and options. Our wine by the glass in the lounge offers various opportuni - ties for guests to discover new favorites. Our poolside wines are served in Govino glassware; Justin Sauvignon Blanc is a hit there. Room service and banquets offer both mandated Marriott stan - dards and our choices. I also choose particular wines for our gift shop for take-home souvenirs. It's all about balance. What about special events? I see you have a space on the property for weddings. Yes, we have a special sparkling wine list for the wedding venue with three levels: Prosecco/Cava/California sparkling, Champagne, and tête de cuvee. All have been well received. Tell me about staff training in the various outlets. We have our wine distributors help with that, and many wine - makers and growers also visit to speak. Our culinary staff and servers meet monthly to talk about the menu and the wine selections that work best. I give the chefs wines frequently for them to create a dish around. It's the perfect pairing when wine is part of the dish. There isn't a shift that goes by without some discussion. You have guests visiting from all over the world. How does that create challenges? It gives Old World visitors a chance to taste California, Oregon, and Washington, and in turn California locals can start their adventure in the Old World. Like I said before, balance. As our menus and selections change with the seasons, so do our guests—so we adapt. Summer is leisure-time visitors; winters are more conferences. What are they asking for these days and what trends are you seeing? We are getting more requests for Riesling and Gewürztraminer— Alsatian styles. Trending still are rosé wines led by Provence, Grenache, and German wines, even Eiswein. One last question: What's your favorite wine-and-food combination? Seafood risotto with a Müller-Thurgau from Trentino or Gewürztraminer from Alsace. Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Ira Norof, CWE, Director of Education, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Interviews MIRKO MARCHI, DIRECTOR OF FOOD AND BEVERAGE, NEWPORT BEACH MARRIOTT HOTEL AND SPA photo by Margaret Soss Mirko Marchi and Ira Norof.

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