In partnership with parent company Marriott International hotels, The Phoenician hosted its annual Masters of the Craft Beverage and Culinary competitions on May 17 and 18, 2019, bringing together eight different Phoenician associates for some fun, fearless competition.

Day one started off with the beverage competition, allowing mixologists from the AAA Five Diamond resort to highlight their cocktail skills, while day two consisted of culinarians presenting their experience with food and flavors. Both competitions were overseen by a panel of accomplished judges, yielding two winners who will move on to the next round of regional competitions.


Masters of the Craft is a series of competitions that showcase the extraordinary culinary and beverage talent within Marriott International hotels. The first round of competitions begins at the property level, where internal associates are able to compete against their colleagues for the chance to move on to the next round of the larger Marriott competition.

Within each event, there is a mystery ingredient that the culinarians and mixologists must use in their final dish or cocktail. Each competition is organized in the “cook-off” style, containing time limits and a panel of judges.

Selected winners from the on-property hotel rounds earn the chance to compete at the regional level, with regional victors moving on to semifinals for the chance to compete in the finals. Along the journey, dishes and beverages are critiqued by guest judges for presentation, creativity, taste and showmanship.




At The Phoenician, three mixologists participated in the Masters of the Craft Beverage Competition, which was held at the bar of J&G Steakhouse on May 17, 2019. Each competitor had seven minutes to shop the pantry and set up their bar, then seven minutes to craft their beverage and present one to each judge. While kumquat was the mystery ingredient required to be utilized in each drink, the mixologists also had a plethora of items from the “pantry” to choose from, including:

  • Fresh fruits:
    • Citrus – Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit
    • Tropical – Pineapple, Banana
    • Berries – Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry
    • Apples
  • Juices – Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Cranberry, Apple, Coconut Water
  • Vegetables – Cucumber, Ginger, Jalapeno, Poblano
  • Herbs – Mint, Rosemary, Basil, Cilantro, Dill,
  • Spices – Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon
  • Fruit Purees – Strawberry, Peach, Pear, Mango, Apricot
  • Syrups – Simple Syrup, Brown Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Prickly Pear Syrup
  • Other Items – Egg Whites, Heavy Cream, Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, White Vinegar
  • Fully stocked bar
  • Bitters – Angostura, Peychaud’s, Barrel-Aged, Lemon, Orange, Peach, Hopped-Grapefruit, Rhubarb, Aztec Chocolate


At the end of the competition, Brian Hawkins came out on top with his cocktail named “7th Sense.”


Brian Hawkins (WINNER)

Bartender – J&G Steakhouse

Cocktail: 7th Sense

Commerce Gin, Lillet Blanc, Diplomatico White Rum, Velvet Falernum, Kumquat-Ginger & Citrus juice   

Robert Porter

Bartender – J&G Steakhouse

Cocktail: Aztec Blood

Johnnie Walker Scotch, LBV Port, Four Peaks Kilt Lifter, Kumquat, Strawberry, Jalapeno, Agave, Pineapple Juice, Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Peter Hicks

Bartender – Kalio Kabobery

Cocktail: Honey Badger

Commerce Gin, Averna Amaro, Honey-Ginger-Kumquat Shrub, Orgeat & Eggwhites


From left to right

  • Taylor Chandler – Assistant Manager, J&G Steakhouse
  • Lisa Mercer – Director of Food & Beverage at The Phoenician
  • Chef Rick Boyer – Executive Chef at The Phoenician
  • Jared Sowinski – Director of Beverage at The Phoenician
  • Jonathan Miller – Winner of the 2018 Master of the Craft Cocktail Competition, Banquet Bartender




For the Masters of the Craft Culinary Competition at The Phoenician, five competitors accepted the challenge and presented their culinarian skills at various workstations in the Mowry & Cotton Salon on May 18, 2019. Each chef had five minutes to shop the pantry, then 30 minutes to create and present a taster for each judge, as well as a “show plate”. The mystery ingredient required to be utilized in each dish was American Red Snapper and the culinarians had access to a fully stocked pantry including:

  • Meats & Seafood
    • Bacon, Pork Belly, Spanish Chorizo
    • Razor Clams, Mussels, Scallops, Prawns, Crab Meat
  • Fruits & Vegetables
    • Pineapples, Lemons, Avocado, Grapefruit, Oranges, Limes
    • Celery, Carrots, Cabbage, Radishes, Beets, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Corn, Capers, Asparagus, Potatoes, Peppers, Onions, Squash, Zucchini, Corn, Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Mushrooms, and More
  • Grains & Nuts
    • Polenta, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Orzo, Wild Rice, Beans
    • Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Pepitas, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Almonds
  • Herbs & Spices
    • Thyme, Basil, Chives, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Sage, Dill, Mint, Italian Parsley, Cilantro
    • Salt, Himalayan Salt
  • Dairy
    • Eggs, Butter, Whole Milk, Heavy Cream, Sour Cream, Goat Cheese, Feta Cheese, Buttermilk
  • Other
    • Clam Juice, Coconut Water, Coconut Milk, Tomato Juice, Olive Oil, Various Vinegars, Sriracha, EVOO,
    • Various Beers, Wines and Spirits


After the final tastings, Brian Bravman won the competition with his exquistely handcrafted dish.


Brian Bravman (WINNER)

Sous Chef at The Phoenician – J&G Steakhouse


Thomas Grimm

Sous Chef at The Phoenician – The Phoenician Tavern


Matt Lavoie

Chef de Partie at The Phoenician – Mowry & Cotton


Steven Mills

Cook I at The Phoenician – J&G Steakhouse


Dante Gibson

Chef de Partie at The Phoenician – The Phoenician Tavern



From left to right:

  • Jared Sowinski – Director of Beverage at The Phoenician
  • Roy Pell – Pastry Chef at The Phoenician
  • Rick Boyer – Executive Chef at The Phoenician
  • Alex Stratta – Award-winning Chef
  • Christina Barrueta – Food Writer &  Blogger



Brian Hawkins with his winning cocktail, “7th Sense.”

Brian Bravman shaking hands with Executive Chef Richard Boyer after winning the Culinary Competition.

After winning their individual property competitions, Brian Hawkins (Beverage) and Brian Bravman (Culinary) will move on to the next level of the competition in hopes of advancing all the way to the Finals held at Marriott International Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.



Over 2000 competitors vied for the title “Master of the Craft” in the individual Food or Beverage categories.  After competing in many rounds, The Phoenician’s own Jonathan Miller advanced to the Beverage Finals in Bethesda, Maryland where he won the whole competition and was awarded Master of the Craft: Beverage for 2018.

His mystery basket ingredient was tomatillo and he impressed the judges with his creative rum-based cocktail containing banana cream syrup, mixed with pineapple and tomatillo, then floated with green chartreuse. The garnish was dehydrated pineapple and fresh cracked black pepper.

At The Phoenician, Jonathan is currently a Banquet Bartender and you may find this Master of the Craft concocting delicious, handcrafted cocktails during your next banquet-style event.