Tonight is this chef’s night off… would have skipped writing if it weren’t for my promise. Instead, I’m going to give a couple of my friends, old and (relatively) new, the well-deserved spotlight.
First, Chef Pascal Beric (one of our instructors at French Culinary Institute) he is the master butcher and charcutier I mentioned yesterday. I had the honor of joining him in the kitchen at last night’s JBF Gala Auction. It was wonderfully exhausting and exciting to work side by side with such a humble and passionate chef. The charcuterie course was beautiful and thrilled not only the guests, but the constellation of Michelin stars we shared the kitchen with – Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy were particularly charming and gracious in a manner that only French men can pull off! I didn’t have time to take any decent photos, so I’m (im)patiently waiting for a friend to send his… will post as soon as they are in.
The other friend I would like to mention this evening is Amanda Cramer, the wine maker at Niner Wine in Paso Robles. She was my housemate way-back-when in Napa when she was assistant winemaker at Paradigm. As I was scanning the blogs, I found this post about her on Squid Ink: the LA Weekly blogs, complete with gorgeous pictures. Friendship aside, Amanda has integrity and a mind of her own – her wines demonstrate this by putting the true character of both the varietal and the terroir at the forefront without compromise. In her words, “I think wines picked ripe, but not too ripe, are more accessible…. I like to say my wines are not stick-a-fork-in-it-and-call-it-diner wines. I want them to go well with dinner, not be dinner.” (quoted from the Squid Ink post linked above). The Niner Syrah, Merlot, Barbera and Sangiovese are my current favorites, but I haven’t opened the Fog Catcher or Cabernet yet… I’m sure I’ll love them too!