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Food & Beverage Assistant Director of The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, Serdar Esenkal

A seasoned manager with over a decade of experience in luxury travel and hospitality, Serdar Esenkal has returned to The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami family where he previously served as the Food & Beverage Supervisor as well as Food & Beverage Manager; positions he held from 2011 to 2016. Now, in his role of Food & Beverage Assistant Director for the luxury resort, he coordinates, supervises and directs all aspects of operations for the pool and beach as well as the property’s food and beverage outlets including Lightkeepers, Cantina Beach, Rumbar and Dune Burgers on the Beach.

A native of Turkey, Esenkal’s experience spans the globe where he has lived and worked in several cities including Istanbul and Antalya, Turkey where he broadened his experience and passion for the hospitality industry at the Adam & Eve Hotel as Manager of Pool & Beach Operations and as Banquet Manager for the Gloria Gold Resort. 

Following graduation, he continued his business and hotel management education in Australia at the Technical and Further Education College and Cesar Ritz Hotel School (I.C.T.H.M). In 2008, he moved to South Florida and became a member of The Ritz-Carlton family as a sever at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami. 

Esenkal’s curiosity for the hospitality industry peaked at a young age while visiting his cousin at a hotel in Southern Turkey where he was fascinated by the beautiful property, beaches, restaurants and the work environment of the industry. The visit inspired him to pursue a career in hospitality with a focus on food and beverage. While he enjoys outdoor activities such as surfing and soccer, his passion for travel and exploring restaurant concepts around the world motivates him to continuously create within the culinary industry, a field that is always evolving in exciting ways, through dedicated planning, preparation and execution. 

Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, Khaled Ibrahim

An accomplished chef boasting more than two decades of culinary experience, Khaled Ibrahim has returned to The Ritz-Carlton family where he previously served as Executive Chef for several Ritz-Carlton properties around the globe. Now, in his role as Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, Ibrahim oversees all elements of culinary operations and menu creation for the luxury property including banquets, in-room dining and its food and beverage outlets Lightkeepers, Cantina Beach, Rumbar and Dune Burgers on the Beach.

Prior to this position, Ibrahim served as pre-opening Executive Chef of The Stovall House Private Club in Tampa, Florida where his responsibilities included planning the members-only club’s culinary concepts, budget management and hiring of staff. Preceding this role, he acquired worldwide experience serving as Executive Chef for three of the brand’s properties – The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo; The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale; and The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami – from 2010 to 2019. Familiar with Miami’s culinary landscape, Ibrahim has also served as Executive Sous Chef of Marriott International and Executive Banquet Chef of Doral Golf Resort & Spa. These earlier working experiences broadened his knowledge and expertise in leadership and food and beverage operations of large-scale luxury properties. 

Being of Egyptian American heritage, Ibrahim’s great grandmother is his inspiration for seeking a career in the culinary industry which led him to earn Best Chefs America’s Best Chef Award in 2014. Preceding his first professional role as Chef De Partie of Marriott International, Egypt, a position he held from 1995 to 1999, Ibrahim received his diploma in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia as well as a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management from Florida Atlantic University in Palm Beach, Florida. He also completed additional professional development training at the Rouxbe Cooking Art School, Marriott International and Culinary Development, Hilton International. 

In addition to his passion for cooking, Ibrahim enjoys diving, spearfishing and volunteering as part of The Ritz-Carlton’s Community Footprint program. A member of the American Culinary Federation, Ibrahim’s decades of success have been earned through his expertise in developing and executing operational strategies, cultivating and managing relationships and partnerships, and building and leading high-performing teams that succeed through a culture of inclusion, collaboration and engagement.

Sommelier Jorge Mendoza

As a child growing up in the seaside city of Viña del Mar, Chile, Jorge Mendoza learned the beauty of pairing delicious wine with the perfect culinary accompaniment at the family dinner table. The Chilean appreciation of lingering at a bountiful table filled with food and wine chosen specifically for their compatible qualities sparked an interest in wines for Mendoza that would lead him to embark on his journey as a future wine steward.

After graduating from the National School of Hotel Management in Santiago with a degree in food and beverage, Mendoza moved to Miami to begin a career in the hospitality industry with Marriott International. He then went on to continue his education at Florida International University, earning a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree in Hospitality Management. While studying the aromas and notes of wines, he honed his skill of analyzing and tasting wines, directing his talents into studying the art of a sommelier’s work. Learning more about the trade at various gourmet restaurants and fine hotels in the area, he began his career at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami in 2001, where he eventually acted as sommelier at Cioppino, the resorts former upscale restaurant.

Regular travels through renowned wine regions from Burgundy, France to Tuscany, Italy serve as continued inspiration for Mendoza in his love of fine wine. As a result, he holds a Foundation Level Sommelier Certificate, Court of Master Sommeliers Certificate, Advanced Certificate Program for the Wines of France and Italy (with honors) and an Advanced Level Sommelier Certificate. Mendoza shares his vast expertise with aspiring sommeliers and aficionados as an instructor with the US Sommelier Association. Now, as sommelier for the oceanfront restaurant and bar, Lightkeepers at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, Mendoza uses his passion and skills to tell a complete story through food and wine pairing.