By Megan Cox | Assistant Wine & Beverage Manager, Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise
Monday morning and I’m looking at the line up of 15 wines that I am about to taste. Understandably, some staff give me a sideways look. It’s not really the morning, it’s early afternoon. As an evening worker, it’s morning to me.
Now, some people ask as I perform this task, how do you end up with a job like this?
The world of wine is not something I have always been a part of, it took a few twists and turns till I arrived here. I grew up in a rural Dairy farming area of New Zealand, where I was more passionate about cooking. I cooked from a very young age. I loved cuisines from every corner of the globe, and began to weave a tapestry of aromas and flavours every chance I had.
I was living on the Sunshine Coast where the best job I could find was washing dishes in a French restaurant, stuck in a tiny, steamy corner piled high with dirty plates and blackened pots, scrubbing morning til night.
When they offered me a chef apprenticeship I jumped on it. After working on the Sunshine Coast, Victoria, the UK and Sydney as a chef, I decided to step out of the kitchen and onto the restaurant floor, where my affair with wine began.
I found myself working as the cellar manager for Rockpool Bar & Grill, home to the largest wine list in the southern hemisphere, with a total of 3,500 wines on offer.
Each week a blind tasting class would be conducted by our resident master sommelier, who led a team of seven of Australia’s finest Sommeliers. It was one of the most daunting positions I have ever held.
After working with Neil Perry and the Rockpool group for five years, I had become an established sommelier and was studying the WSET Certificate Four, the ‘Diploma’, considered to be the stepping stone to the Masters of Wine course. I felt a sea change coming on and I decided to relocate to the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
I’m now Assistant Wine and Beverage manager for Crown Plaza Surfers Paradise, after some fulfilling roles as head sommelier at Hilton in Surfers Paradise, and hotel sommelier at Palazzo Versace.
With Palazzo Versace I had the opportunity to teach to the hospitality class through TAFE and I taught for the Palazzo Versace Hospitality Diploma. I have discovered through this how much I love teaching.
I love bringing this aspect to my work every day, each question from a customer or staff is an opportunity for enlightenment and knowledge expansion. This year I will bring to the hotel a wine training program for all food and beverage staff members, to add skills and knowledge to the team of young professionals.
In Balthazar Wine & Dining, we are constantly opening wines and holding wine tastings, sometimes impromptu and sometimes formal. Each tasting is an opportunity to share my knowledge and engage with a guest over a topic I love.
We endeavour to help every guest find the perfect wine for every occasion, and love to have a good story to go along with it.
Visit Megan at Balthazar Wine & Dining from 11am to 9pm, 7 days.