Because of her talent and passion for hospitality, she was awarded the coveted title by the prestigious restaurant guide. Now, as the recipient of the prestigious award, she reflects on her experience with the JOSEPHINE glass, which she calls the "most natural glass."
In her words she explains how she found Josephinenhütte. “I wasn't necessarily introduced to Josephinenhütte by a particular person or event, it was just an organic realization that the glassware existed and that it exemplified both intention and design. I like to talk about how a wine glass feels right when it becomes an extension of one's hand. Not only is this the case with the JOSEPHINE, but there is also an opposite moment of looking at this piece of art and recognizing the aesthetic value. Those two somewhat opposing perspectives of feeling like the glass was the most natural and organic drinking vessel and also this glorious example of design have continued to rapture me.“
”When we first brought the glasses to Momofuku Ko, it was as if we found our perfect match. The dimly lit room, with David Choe's murals spotlit on the walls and the beat of classic hip hop or the hum of post punk, found a true reflection in the glasses.“
In June 2022, Josephinenhütte’s designer Kurt Josef Zalto, Austrian 6th generation glassmaker, came for a visit to New York and was welcomed by the team at Momofuku Ko. Kurt Josef Zalto had a chance to see the wine collection and he was delighted to see their Austrian selection, “I know this! It’s from my region,” he noted.
Kurt Josef Zalto said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience at Ko, meeting the staff and head sommelier. “I am so gracious and honored to have my glassware at Momofuku Ko,” he said as he explained to the team how the glasses are made and showed the tools used in the process of hand making wine glasses that are exceptionally light and thin-walled, yet astoundingly elastic.
Malhotra said that the team and customers at Ko have expressed their fondness for Kurt Josef Zalto’s wine glasses. “The glasses elevate wine drinking,” Malhotra said, “Our customers love them, and the JOSEPHINE wine glasses have changed the overall wine drinking experience. The glasses have an effortless feel to them. At first glance, the JOSEPHINE wine glasses are special, they capture a sense of freedom and grace. They do not blend into the background, but rather, they demand attention.”
Malhotra has been a quiet but steady force in New York’s wine scene, working in retail and wine bars over the last decade. She brings creativity and personality to her position as wine director at Two Michelin Star Ko, and her wine list highlights excellence from icons and rising stars alike in regions across the world.
Born and raised in New York City, Malhotra was first introduced to the wine world when she learned about biodynamic farming at the Rudolf Steiner School. The focus on biodynamic cultivation inspired her to seek out sustainable and responsible vignerons.
After graduating from Goucher College with a degree in philosophy and working at several independent bookstores over the course of six years, Malhotra decided to enroll in culinary school that included a wine course where she discovered her love for hospitality, and by the age of 25 she was the general manager and wine director of Tangled Vine, a wine bar with 150 selections of aged biodynamic and organic wines. Malhotra went on to join the wine team at Tribeca Grill where she worked for David Gordon, wine director for the Myriad Restaurant Group. Five years later, she found herself at Momofuku, working as the head sommelier at Wayo and now at Ko.
The wine program at Momofuku Ko is the most comprehensive in New York. Its depth and focus is unparalleled in such a wine-focused community, Rajat Parr from Star Wine List said when Momofuku Ko won Grand Prix in Star Wine List of the Year New York 2023.
As one of the top sommeliers in New York, Malhotra reflects on why she chose a career in wine. “Connecting with guests, listening, and being able to provide the wine that best fits that moment is what keeps me passionate about the hospitality industry,“ she noted.
On the flip side, there is the responsibility of creating a narrative for winemakers, Malhotra said. “The wine industry is full of people who can inspire each other and wine can provide this framework of being transported to a time and place and in terms of selecting for the list, I am interested in how I can provide that experience for the guest. Sommeliers are, in a way, ambassadors for winemakers and wine regions. It is important to maintain that and also provide options for guests.”