He might be shining in the Crescent City, but Sommelier and Beverage Director John Mitchell's talents began twinkling well before he came to New Orleans in 2009. In fact they began eight years earlier, in Mitchell's native South Carolina, where the young professional got his first job—and discovered his passion for the beverage industry—at McCrady's in Charleston.
It might have only been a first stop, but McCrady's introduced Mitchell to the wine vocabulary and basics of service that would become the foundation of his career. Mitchell was able to expand upon those basics with his next post, as assistant sommelier to the wine director at Restaurant O in his hometown of Greenville. It was here that Mitchell gained an appreciation for the management aspects of beverage service, an invaluable savvy that allowed him to transition into assistant sommelier at Seeger's Relais & Chateaux property in Atlanta, Georgia. This proved not only an illustrious post for the young sommelier—who found himself conducting tasting dinners for Coca Cola and Time Warner executives—but a pivotal step in the development of his palate. When he returned to Restaurant O as wine director, Mitchell had developed the ability to pair within the eclectic range of flavors in New American cuisine.
Shining ever brighter with each post, Mitchell began as assistant sommelier at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans before being drawn (as many are) to the talents of 2003 StarChefs.com Rising Star Chef Scott Boswell. As sommelier and wine director of Boswell's Stella!
, Mitchell has amassed an impressive, diverse wine list, which today rounds out at about 500 labels. And while Mitchell's main concern is keeping his guests happy, his sparkling talent can't avoid recognition. Not only did the (still very young) sommelier rank as our 2012 New Orleans Rising Star Sommelier, he's earned Wine Spectator's
Best of Award of Excellence for four years running.