Everything just tastes better when it comes with a story. My mission has always been to help our guests and consumers discover and understand the difference between the taste and the flavor of something. Taste is what is immediately recognized, while the flavor component is what you connect with emotionally and intellectually, not just physically. A glass of wine can taste so much better if you know the story of the vineyard behind it. There is a richness of flavor that comes with each background of a product or dish or book, knowing each community that makes it happen. At bottega, we strive to make every diner’s experience great. It’s not just about what’s on the plate but what happens before the dishes are even created—the ingredients, the techniques, and then how it is served. Every business I am involved with shares that need to tell its story, including the business of who I am and why cooking and food is so important to me. Even the story of the evolution of Napa Valley—how each chapter of this amazing area unfolds is so crucial to understanding the whole picture of what we do and why we do it. And so this magazine brings together all the components that make up my life, and how they work together to create the family that I now share with you. —Michael Chiarello
Many chefs will point to family as a major influence on their culinary careers, but Chef Michael Chiarello takes it to a new level. “Although I was born and raised in central California, my passion for Italian cooking comes from my mother, who taught me the Calabrian traditions of food and family. As a kid, a lot of the time I spent with her revolved around cooking— not only picking fresh vegetables in the garden, canning and preserving, but also interacting with what I call our extended family—the local butchers, cheesemakers, and ranchers. These experiences are an integral part of me and continue to shape who I am today.”
Now with four children of his own, three daughters and a young son, food remains an intimate part of all their lives—so much so that his youngest daughter, Giana, recently announced that she wanted to be a chef and this fall is preparing to enter the Culinary Institute of America, where Chiarello was recently named 2011 Alumni of the Year. (He is a CIA graduate of 1982 and was the recipient of their Chef of the Year Award in 1995.)
While all of his children might not be involved directly in the industry, they each weigh heavily on Chiarello’s culinary mind. In fact, he named the different parcels of Chiarello Family Vineyards after them and his wife, Eileen, according to how each varietal reflects their unique personalities.
Chiarello’s roots are now firmly planted in Napa Valley soil. This is his home, the place he has raised his family and cultivated his grapes and his clientele. It is where it all came together: his passion for a food-centric life in a place with abundant like-minded artisans to feed his soul and his business. “Something magical happens when you come to Napa Valley, in the way you receive information. When you get out of a big city like Los Angeles or New York, you can really exhale and inhale something new and fresh. Your receptors open up to things you can’t get at home.” And part of the experience that he offers through all of his businesses is that of enjoying Napa Valley and everything it has to offer.
“I really believe Napa Valley is not a monoculture: it is not just about wine. There’s life beyond the glass. In fact, now it’s even more than food and wine; it’s about other passionate enjoyments too, like filmmaking.” As the Napa Valley story continues to grow, with a Napa Valley Film Festival debuting in November, Chiarello is happy to lend his support to making it a success. Napa Valley might be his home, but he has no problem making everyone feel like family.
The chef’s attention to festivals and the seasonal ingredients magnify the detail of work created in each dish from week to week. Daikon radish is one of the key vegetables in Japanese home cooking, inexpensive and versatile, even transformable to a candle shade by a master chef’s knife-carving technique.
Chef David Bouley Toasts The Wines of the Region
New York, NY—December 23, 2010—On December 21st guests, including some of the top beverage industry media and trade in the United States were invited by the Interprofession des Vins du Sud Ouest (IVSO), the official wine-trade organization of the region, to Chef David Bouley’s Test Kitchen for a festive walk-around tasting of South West Wines of France. Taking inspiration from the region, Chef Bouley created special hors d’oeuvres to pair with the selections of red and white varietals. The wines of France’s South West region have been one of the country’s best-kept secrets for ages, but that may not be true for much longer.
Excitement abounded as Fred Dexheimer, Master Sommelier and Spokesperson for IVSO personally walked guests through a tasting of the wealth of little-known indigenous varietals that the South West has to offer. Showcased at the tasting were wines from Côtes de Gascogne, Fronton, Gaillac, Madiran, Saint-Mont and Cahors.
“The winemakers in South West France are making some of the best undiscovered wines in all of France. They deliver exceedingly high quality for reasonable price,” said Jeffrey Alpert, a Wine Importer. “We’ve been importing South West wines for years and we are happy that a larger audience of American wine drinkers is finally being exposed to these excellent wines.”
Dexheimer provided guests with a primer on the vast diversity of terroirs found amongst the South West region’s wine appellations, stretching a distance of roughly six hours by car from Irouléguy in the far South West corner of the region to Marcillac in the North East. He noted how those geographic variations are mirrored in the astounding breadth of wine styles to be found across South West France, from dry reds and whites to sweet and sparkling offerings, as well as in the wide array of grape varietals—some of them extremely rare—that are the tools of the South West winemaker’s trade.
Contributing to the event from a culinary perspective, Chef David Bouley had guests reeling as he spoke about his personal experiences in discovering the wines of South West France – and why the Bouley Test Kitchen was a perfect venue to showcase the wines.
“Our Test Kitchen is a place of discovery, education, and innovation,” Bouley explained, “For both sommeliers and wine enthusiasts, there is a huge opportunity to explore all these different appellations and grape varietals.
One thing that is so fantastic about the South West wine is that you have this myriad of styles from fruit forward and approachable to wines with just an incredible depth, complexity, and structure which make them great for a wide variety of foods. You can really find a wine that can pair with vast array of dishes.”
As a leader in the culinary world, Chef Bouley was particularly pleased at revealing his “insider” belief that the wines of South West France will soon be the talk of the wine world – and this same sentiment radiated in the ambiance and conversation throughout the evening. As one journalist noted, “Discovering the wines of South West France is the beginning of a fabulous adventure. The wines are sophisticated, have a great length and retain the characteristics of the grape and soil. Most importantly, these wines are honest – the kind of product that you can stand by whether you’re seasoned in the industry or simply someone who enjoys a top quality food and wine experience.
The official wine-trade organization of the region, the Interprofession des Vins du Sud Ouest (IVSO) is charged with the protection and promotion of its 18 PDO and 20 PGI wines, both in France and in key export markets. Its duties include maintaining strict quality controls for the benefit of the consumer as well as the organization of both economic studies and collective communication activities to benefit the region’s more than 5,000 winemakers.
JR PR Account Executive
Tel: (212) 386-7439
Interprofession des Vins du Sud Ouest: Paul Fabre
Tel: +33 5 61 73 87 06
Note to media: digital photos are available upon request. Please contact: email@example.com
4 black cod fillets, about
1/2 pound (230 grams) each
3 cups (800 grams) Nobu-style Saikyo Miso
1 stalk hajikami per serving
1. Pat the black cod fillets thoroughly dry with paper towels. Slather the fish with Nobu-style Saikyo Miso, place in a nonreactive dish or bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave to steep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Preheat a grill or broiler. Lightly wipe off any excess miso clinging to the fillets, but don’t rinse it off. Place the fish on the grill or in a broiler pan, and grill or broil until the surface of the fish turns brown. Then bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Arrange the black cod fillets on individual plates and garnish with hajikami. Add a few extra drops of Nobu-style Saikyo Miso to each plate.
By Tracy Nieporent
Nobu Matsuhisa’s vision to use the ingredients of Japanese cuisine, along with an imaginative use of Western and South American flavors, started a culinary revolution.
Growing up in New York City in the 1960s, Chinese food—not Japanese—was the most prominent Asian cuisine. Trips to Chinatown were fun, but, in truth, you could enjoy good Chinese food almost anywhere in the city. Japanese food was mostly relegated to an afterthought, and sushi didn’t have wide appeal at that time. In the following decades, many more Japanese restaurants began to open, but with a fairly limited range—tempura and teriyaki dishes tended to be the featured dishes.
Everything changed with the arrival of Nobu New York City in 1994. Nobu Matsuhisa’s vision to use the ingredients of Japanese cuisine, along with an imaginative use of Western and South American flavors, started a culinary revolution. Amazing dishes like black cod with miso, yellowtail with jalapeño, tiradito, new-style sashimi, sashimi salad, and many others captivated New York City diners. The flavors were bold and vibrant, and each dish was plated like a work of art. The clarity came from the simplicity of using the finest ingredients served with heart—or, as Nobu says, kokoro.
This wonderful, inventive cuisine evolved from Nobu’s creative life experience and international travels. Listening to the guests was also part of this culinary renaissance. “New-style sashimi” was created in response to a diner who wouldn’t eat raw fish. Nobu topped the raw fish with ginger spears and sesame seeds, and drizzled it with ponzu. He then took sesame oil together with heated olive oil and poured it briefly over the fish. A wonderful cavalcade of flavors came together. The guest tried a mouthful and then eagerly gobbled up the entire dish. It is certainly one of the most popular dishes on the Nobu menu, and a tribute to a great chef’s ingenuity.
Through the years, virtually every celebrity you can think of has dined at Nobu. But, really, the foundation of the restaurant’s success, both here in New York City and in other places, is that the food, décor, service, and total experience have captivated the public at large. There can be no greater compliment. Going to Nobu is a wonderful experience that is eagerly anticipated because, quite simply, it makes people feel good. Thomas Keller, the revered chef and owner of the French Laundry and Per Se, sums it up best when he says, “Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s dishes are not just nourishment for the body—they are a delight to the senses, and a soothing balm to the spirit.”
Chef Mark Sullivan firmly believes that the profession chose him as much as he chose to be a chef.
“I found myself through the tactile nature of crafting cuisine out of raw ingredients,” Mark Sullivan explains. “I started cooking without the intention of it being a life path; it just was what I did, and it felt natural. Digging my arms shoulder deep into a bag of farro made sense, and made me feel connected to being. I became wrapped up in it and stopped looking for what to do, and just accepted where I was without making an objective choice to be where I was. All of that said, I woke up one day ten years into a career and into my thirties, when I finally embraced the idea that I was to be a chef.”
Mark believes that cooking is much deeper than the mechanics of craft and creativity. History, visual experiences, childhood memories, mentally archived sensations—they all contribute to the making of a chef, and chefs and their cuisine represent the full scope of their experiences, without which they have little to express. For Mark, his travels and cooking experiences in Spain and France were a turning point, “an opening of spirit, a cathartic and freeing time, where I was able to break from what I had known and see a new cuisine that I had only read about. It began my firm belief that one can only scratch at knowing a cuisine without visiting its lands. Cookbooks and culinary mentors can only take you so far with the understanding of French or Spanish cooking. To know the food, one must know the culture and its place.”
Gordon Drysdale brings three decades of experience to his role as chef and partner at Bacchus Management Group and executive chef of Mayfield Bakery & Cafe and Pizza Antica. He has been a longtime fixture in the Bay Area dining scene with a reputation for modern, seasonal cuisine with classic roots. Gordon began his restaurant career as a dishwasher at the age of 16 and hasn’t left the kitchen since. Although initially drawn to the buzz of a busy commercial kitchen, it was the creativity of cooking that really attracted him. As someone who spent the better part of his teens in the high school art room, Gordon appreciated the artistic aspects of the culinary world.
Drysdale joined Bacchus in 2002 to open Pizza Antica, where he is currently in charge of overseeing the kitchens of each location. He has contributed his own distinct sensibility to the partnership, fine-tuning the concept and developing a thin crust Roman-style pizza that is unique to the restaurant. Award-winning pizza along with entrees, salads, and housemade desserts has made Pizza Antica, now four restaurants strong and growing, a tremendous success.
In February 2009, Drysdale opened Mayfield Bakery & Cafe. A full-service bakery and 80-seat cafe, Mayfield Bakery & Cafe serves a simple, rustic American menu highlighting seasonal, fresh produce.
Since 1987, guests have been drawn to the allure of Chef David Bouley’s restaurants. From the artful interiors and unsurpassed service to seasonal menus and exceptional wine lists, dining has evolved into a celebrated experience.
Today, Bouley is focusing on new ways of taking his renowned culinary ceremonies outside the restaurant walls, combining cuisine, education, entertainment, and service to create unforgettable experiences in catering and events.
In catering, Bouley is motivated by the chance to cultivate a working relationship with customers. His goal is to reach the guests on a higher level, and it is imperative for him to first explore their true interests in food—the tastes, textures, and techniques they enjoy more than others. For instance, some guests prefer their fish to be steamed and light, while others prefer a fish that’s been seared until caramelized for an added crunch. Through these decisions, personality steps into his role of creative direction, and his customers become the source of inspiration through which Bouley channels his signature style and cuisine. For Bouley, catering calls for harmony—a seamless combination of taste, ambiance, and service no matter if you’re planning a corporate gathering, charity event, or intimate dinner party.
Bouley’s goal always is to create higher expectations. And he lives by one rule: you execute and deliver every meal like you do in the restaurant. What separates Bouley from other caterers is that he makes himself vulnerable, executing dishes with the same kind of detailed sensitivity and culinary
Victor Albisu was appointed chef de cuisine at BLT Steak DC nearly two years ago. With a Cuban father and a Peruvian mother who were both from “very intense cooking cultures,” and summers spent helping out at his family’s restaurants in Miami, Albisu seemed predestined for a culinary career. Yet, at one point in his life, he was headed in a completely different direction. Then his career path took an unexpected turn, and he made his way back into the kitchen. Creative and always evolving his skills, he is definitely at his happiest there.
What are some of your favorite childhood food memories?
I started cooking at a very young age. My grandfather was a baker in Cuba. You could find me at a very young age standing on milk crates or telephone books to watch him make empanadas. I was always very involved. I used to go to Miami every summer to help out in the family business. I’d press Cuban sandwiches, brew coffee, or make croquetas. I guess it could have been seen as child labor anywhere else, but I enjoyed it too much to consider it work!
So you always knew you wanted to continue the tradition?
Yes, but at first I didn’t take it seriously; I never opened my eyes to it as a career. I studied international relations, I was very much into political science, and I worked in international development after I graduated from college.
Then what happened?
One day I woke up and realized that I was sitting in a cubicle, staring at a computer, and I wanted to shake it off. So I did. I had just bought a house, so I sold it; same with my car. I even broke up with my fiancée! Then I moved to Paris to learn how to really cook. A lot of people thought I was crazy!
Who is your biggest influence in the kitchen?
My grandfather—he still means the world to me, and I find inspiration in his memory. He died when I left for college, so he never really got to see me cook. I try to honor him in the kitchen by being as creative as I can.
At BLT Burger, Laurent Tourondel has created his take on the classic American burger joint. Flavorful burgers,
adventurous milkshakes, and staff-selected beers make for a great combination. BLT’s John Rothstein has matched
shake and beer pairings for these BLT burgers.
By Tracy Nieporent
The wind was icy and powerful, chilling me to the bone and practically lifting me off my feet. I pulled with all my might to open the door to an old, abandoned coffee factory, and then pushed mightily to close the door against the relentless gale. It was the winter of 1989, and this was my introduction to 375 Greenwich Street. My first thought was that no one in his or her right mind would make the trek down to such a forlorn place. Now, two decades later, I can happily say that I was totally wrong.
The doors I forced open and shut led to the construction site for the Tribeca Grill, a restaurant that has helped define a neighborhood and has become abeloved New York City destination. It started with a shared vision of Robert De Niro and Drew Nieporent
to create a warm and welcoming restaurant with good food and drink that would anchor the first two floors of the Tribeca Film Center. Add Martin Shapiro, the managing partner, who two decades later, and with total dedication, still oversees a restaurant that has greeted millions of diners. Mix in two executive chefs–Don Pintabona and now Stephen Lewandowski–who serve up food that brings a smile, David Gordon, who has helped create a world-class wine list and an incredible staff–many of whom have worked at the restaurant since the beginning. The result is a successful restaurant with substance and integrity that has stood the test of time. One journalist endearingly called Tribeca Grill “a neighborhood restaurant for the whole world.” As for those cold, harsh winds? They still sometimes whip down Greenwich Street in winter. But open the doors to Tribeca Grill, and there’s always a warm welcome inside.