Marcus Voglrieder, Nobu’s Beverage Director
Just hearing, saying or even writing the word “Nobu” and my mouth starts watering. The fusion cuisine, blending traditional Japanese cuisine with Peruvian ingredients, developed by Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa is in a playing field all its own.
With restaurants in the U.S. from Las Vegas to Lana’i, Miami to Malibu and throughout the world from Milan to Melbourne, there aren’t many who haven’t at least heard the name, even if they haven’t been lucky enough to enjoy the food.
“Nobu,” the man behind the food is a celebrity for sure, first and foremost for the cuisine he invented. He’s also been in three feature films.
The man behind the beverages at Nobu (Marcus) may not be a household name, but he is just as impressive and has curated quite a saké and wine program for the brand.
Hello Marcus! Thank you for sitting down with us today. Let's jump into it! So, you grew up in Bavaria, Germany. What did your parents do?
My mother worked at a tax office and my father worked in telecommunications before transitioning into the hospitality business, running a local hotel.
Taxes and telecommunications before a jump into hospitality. Did you want to follow in their footsteps or did you have other dreams?
I have always been fascinated with speed, so either a professional motorcycle or race car driver.
Love that. I was obsessed with the Steve McQueen movie “On Any Sunday” about motorcycle life when I was a kid. I was also obsessed with Grand Marnier Souffle. Were you a foodie as a kid?
Not really. My food upbringing was simple. I mainly ate traditional Bavarian (Southern German) dishes, and on rare occasions Italian, Greek and Chinese cuisine.
How about wine. Do you have a “aha” wine moment? Like when you tasted your first Champagne?
Actually, it was NYE in 1999. I was working on a cruise ship as a bartender. We were in Mexico, and one of our guests gave me a bottle of Champagne Pommery so I could share it with the team. It was a special evening, and my first time drinking champagne.
Wow! What a great ”aha” moment. Was that your first job?
My first job I worked as a screen printer. Not sure what I was thinking since I am color blind. 😊
That’s pretty funny. What happened after that? How did you get to your current job with Nobu?
In 2000, after a season in Ibiza, the cruise ship experience, I decided to move to London. After a few months of struggle, I was able to get hired at Nobu London as a bartender.
Not a bad gig. What other experience did you bring with you to Nobu?
Apart from having previous hospitality experience, I also went to a hotel business school in Altötting, Germany.
One of the many things you and Mark have in common. European Hotel business school. Love that. And you have traveled a lot for business. What are some of your favorite places you traveled to?
Japan, Mykonos, St. Moritz, Ibiza, Manila, Monte Carlo, Bodrum and Kuala Lumpur.
Most on my list of places I want to go. Well, truth be told, I had to google Bodrum. But it would fit in perfectly on my dream vacation to Club Med in Palmiye, Turkey. Is there anywhere you haven’t you been that you are “jonesing” to get to?
Iceland. I have heard so many great things about it and am dying to go.
Oh man. Me too! Every single time someone I know posts photos of their travels there I am completely in awe. Any favorite local getaway spots?
I like to ride with my motorcycle buddies on Sundays in the Malibu Canyon. I like to call it “therapy.” 😊
And very picturesque therapy at that. My virtual Pilates therapy is definitely not as scenic, but some of my wine therapy is. Especially my favorite varietal of late; Rosé. Do you have any favorite wines? Grape varietals?
I like red and white Burgundy & red Bordeaux. I am also a fan of California wines.
Do you like wine cocktails?
I’m not a big wine cocktail drinker, but I appreciate a good Boulevardier or an Old Fashioned.
Yellow Tail Jalapeño
A traditionalist. I am partial to a mimosa, so I get that. Do you have a favorite cuisine?
I like to explore. Besides the Nobu cuisine, I appreciate Italian & Bavarian cuisines.
I could literally eat Nobu every single day. Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?
Nobu’s Ribeye Crispy Onion paired with the Matsuhisa Cabernet Sauvignon.
Again, pretty classic. I am feeling a theme here. So tell us; what’s your life like today?
Life is great. After moving — with Nobu — from London to the Bahamas and from there to Miami, I ended up at Nobu L.A. in 2007. I love the Southern California lifestyle.
How does it fare versus how you pictured it when you were younger?
It turned out much better than I had envisioned. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and, with my position, I have been able to travel the world, which is fantastic. I am very grateful for it.
Kind of like a travel show, but even better as you get to eat Nobu cuisine everywhere you go. Anything you’ve done that you never thought you would have done?
When I worked in the Bahamas, I did a shark feeding scuba dive. I was under the impression that it would be a cage dive, but there was no cage to be found.
Wow. Obviously, you lived to tell the tale. And when you aren’t swimming with sharks, anything else you enjoy?
Riding motorcycles, hiking, working out, reading, skiing, scuba diving and dinners with friends.