July 3, 2011

Interview with David Mokha, Sommelier at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Think you know your wine? Sit down with this week’s Sommelier in the Spotlight and learn just how much you really don’t know. Sharing a glass of wine with David Mokha, the Director of Beverage and Sommelier for the Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a fascinating learning experience. David’s position goes way beyond “tasting” a few wines and putting them on a wine list. This humble yet authoritativeman is the gatekeeper to a dozen food and beverage outlets within the Fontainebleau Miami Beach; home to perennial favorites, Scarpetta, Hakkasan, and Gotham Steak. This is a big job for anyone, let’s just see how he gets it all done.  This week’s spotlight shines on David Mokha, Director of Beverage and Sommelier for the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

photo: David Mokha


South Florida Food and Wine: Tell us about the Fontainebleau’s wine operation?
David Mokha: We have a very extensive program that has many layers to it. First, each venuehas its own unique wine program centered on the cuisine & culture of the restaurant. We created each program to be different in each venue, so there is a different experience in each venue, other than the obvious culinary differences. This allows a guest the ability to discover new and exciting wines that have been selected specifically for that restaurant’s cuisine. Next, I have compiled all of the wines offered on property into one “Master” list. This gives us the ability to be able to offer the guest anything we have on property, not just the restaurant you are in at the moment. From there I have taken all of the “Gems” and placed them in a central glass show cellar, positioned between Gotham Steak and our Bleau Bar, making up a glass wall that lets you view all of the rare treasures we offer.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is a typical day for you as the Director of Beverage and Sommelier of Fontainebleau Miami Beach?
David Mokha:My typical day starts in the morning, when I arrive I usually take a walk down to our loading dock & warehouse to see what orders have arrived and to see if anything is missing. From there I head into my office for a bit of paperwork and emailing. Now the more fun part of the day begins. I usually have many appointments throughout the day, comprised of suppliers, distributors and other vendors. I try to take most of the appointments that involve spirits in the early afternoon, as I am the sole decision maker on these. A little later in the afternoon, my team of seven Sommeliers arrives to their restaurants. We always taste and evaluate wines as a group, as I feel that it is the best way for the group to learn and discuss the new products being evaluated. We discuss the wines and decide if we will take any in as a new product. In between these meetings, I like to walk around the resort to see the business in action before service begins at 6pm. When service starts, I tend to spend my time in the 3 signature restaurants equally throughout service. Speaking to guests and friends, as they are enjoying dinner or drinks. As the restaurants get to their final seating’s, I turn my focus to our nightlife and bars. Being a liaison between my guests and the nightlife offerings. Getting them in to the nightclubs, to their tables or bars, ensuring they get everything expected of the Fontainebleau’s venues.

South Florida Food and Wine:What is the one thing you love the most about your job?
David Mokha:The interaction with guests. I really enjoy the social atmosphere of my job, and not being tied to a desk.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is most challenging aspect about your job as Director of Beverage and Sommelier at the Fontainebleau?
David Mokha:Balancing all of the different hats of a business that is so large and fast moving. You almost have to be on all the time to not get bogged down. Our business requires immediate responses most of the time, so I am pretty much glued to my BlackBerry.

South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you most would like to share a bottle of wine with? And why?
David Mokha:I would like to share a bottle of wine with Michael Broadbent. He has experienced the pleasure of tasting the rarest and most treasured wines made and it would be an amazing experience to be able to listen to his experiences.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final quaff be?
David Mokha:Chave Hermitage Blanc, it is like no other white wine produced.

South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at and did you order wine?
David Mokha: I typically eat a bit of Asian food & I am always intrigued with cocktails that complement the dishes.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty food pleasure?
David Mokha:Strangely, I have always had an obsession with restaurants fresh breads, I often find this to be more unique than the cuisine.

South Florida Food and Wine:It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
David Mokha:I like to get together with some friends, sit outside at a restaurant, & just chat while enjoying some beverages.

South Florida Food and Wine: Dream come true: You can have the wine of your choice in any city in the world, which city would it be and why? What wine would it be and why?
David Mokha:New York City is really the Food & Wine epicenter as far as I have come across. Everything is available in wines & the food is trend setting.

South Florida Food and Wine: Your sense of taste and smell are crucial to your job, what if you lost your “senses”; What would be, your Plan B?
David Mokha: I have always had a pretty techy side to me, so I would assume that would be my direction.

2011 Spotlight Interviews
2010 Spotlight Interviews

Fontainebleau Miami Beach 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140



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