Many people have a wake-up call after experiencing a health setback. The call came to Chef Jean- Christian Jury after experiencing heart failure, not once but twice. Jean-Christian attributes his poor health to his erratic eating habits and relentless 16- hour day work schedule combined with the stress of running several restaurants and kitchens in London at the time.
He heeded the call and changed his diet to plant based. In 2007, he opened his first vegan restaurant in Berlin, Mano Verde. Today, he’s based in Los Angeles and teaches vegan cooking around the world. His comprehensive new book, “Vegan The Cookbook,” (Phaidon) is filled with more than 150 plant based recipes from around the world. If you buy one book on vegan home cooking, this one is it.
It’s all about chemistry. Cambria Wines’ Denise Shurtleff was studying for a degree in dietetics and food administration with the intention of focusing on a career in nutrition when she decided to apply for an internship at a winery. She never looked back, and the chemistry of winemaking became her calling.
Denise spent 16 years working at Corbett Canyon Vineyards as Winemaker and Winery Manager before joining Cambria Estate Winery in 1999 as Assistant Winemaker. Today she’s Head Winemaker.
Located in Santa Barbara County, Cambria is part of Jackson Family Estates. Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke acquired what was then called Tepusquet Vineyard in 1987 and renamed it “Cambria,” the Roman word for “Wales,” a nod to the family’s heritage. Today, Barbara runs Cambria with her two daughters, Katie and Julia Jackson. The winery is located on the Santa Maria Bench located on eastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley AVA. This area is kissed by cool fog, ocean breezes and a long slow growing season for the estate grown grapes, most notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Gris and Syrah. Cambria has been certified sustainable since 2009.
When you’ve been in the beverage and food business as long as we have – 30 years for each of us – you find yourself reconnecting with people over and over. Those people connect you to others in the industry. Your circle widens and yet becomes closer as your relationships deepen. We call it “Six Degrees of Siperation.”
Chatting with Steve Olson on a recent edition of The Connected Table LIVE! that term bubbled into my head. We counted the many ways we’ve connected with Steve over the years including: The James Beard Awards, Sherries from Spain, Greek wines, Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, Rums of Puerto Rico, Tales of the Cocktail, the Food & Wine Classic, Beverage Alcohol Resource, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal and Kansas City’s J Rieger & Co.
For those of you who have worked – and played- with Steve, you know his energy is boundless and enthusiasm contagious. Many of us have been touched by Steve in our lives. Recently Pernod-Ricard acquired a major stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal so we raise a spirited toast to Steve and his partners, Ron Cooper and Michael Gardner who have worked hard to put Mezcal on everyone’s lips. Here’s a link to our show with Steve Olson. That’s right Steve, we’ve named the title for the memoir you need to write!
Recently we attended two tastings that sparked our interest. Neither of the varietals spotlighted were front and center in our minds, and we welcomed the chance to educate our palates and try the wines.
Alicia Lini‘s family has been making Lambrusco wines in Emilia-Romagna since 1910. A fourth generation family member, Alicia was recently in New York at i Trulli restaurant to share her family’s portfolio of LINI 910‘s sparkling wines, one produced in the metodo classico style and the other through the charmat process. She joins us June 7 to discuss why she feels the time is now for Lambrusco
Meunier Steps Out
The invitation was to learn about Meunier (a.k.a. Petit Meunier), one-third of the Holy Trinity of Champagne grapes, the others being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s the second most widely grown grape in the region after PInot Noir and the least known. So, nine producers decided to band together to show Meunier some love, which they did at a tasting at Corkbuzz June 6th.
Fanny Heucq‘s family is an organic grower producer in the Marne Valley. She joins us June 7 to share Champagne-Heucq‘s story and why she feels the time is now to spotlight Meunier.
Listen to this show on iHeart.com here and please give it a “thumbs up” and share”
We have a soft spot in our hearts for Beaujolais Crus wines. They’re always overshadowed by their flashy younger sister, Beaujolais Nouveau. We become annoyed when people confuse Beaujolais Nouveau with Beaujolais Crus and don’t give either a chance. Beaujolais Nouveau is like the bright holiday sweater you bring out for the season to have some fun; Beaujolais Cru is the fine cashmere you wear year-round. They both have their place…and style. Just don’t let anyone confuse them.
There are some many fine Beaujolais wines from the ten cru regions From north to south, each has its own subtle style: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Many call them the gems of the appellation. So, we always wondered why the intense push to celebrate the release of the Nouveau received all bling. Well, they have their place at the table at different occasions.
Cyril Chirouze oversees winemaking at historic Château Des Jacques, located in the villages of Romaneche-Thorins in the Moulin-a-Vent appellation. The winery, now under the management of Maison Louis Jadot, focuses on traditional Burgundian methods of wine making: longer maceration, wild yeast fermentation, and aging in oak barrels for ten months to add complexity.
Recently we dined with Cyril in New York at DB Bistro Moderne and tasted a preview of a few Château des Jacques‘ 2015 releases. The wines were elegant, and Cyril was eloquent on the subject. He joins us May 31.
We share a pet peeve with Matt Moore: We get annoyed when people refer to a summer cookout or grilling as a “barbecue” or “barbecuing.” It’s like calling Prosecco “Champagne.” It’s not the same.
Barbecue is a sacred tradition in the Southern states. Like real Coca-Cola, pimiento cheese and biscuits, we don’t like poor knock-offs or misuse of the word. In other words Don’t screw with the ‘cue.
In his book, “The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection,” Matt says, “Southern BBQ is its own religion. And to experience it is akin to hearing the Gospel for the first time.” And if you’re still not convinced of the religious fervor for true barbecue know there’s another new book out on this subject called “Praise the Lard” by Mike and Amy Mills.
In the South’s Best Butts, Matt heads out to interview pitmasters throughout the Barbecue Belt for tips on making true ‘cue. Each pit stop is a story of humble people working with a humble product: a pig. The barbecue mother sauces vary by region as may the method of cooking and the spiced rub, but the pig remains the common denominator. This is a book acheterdufrance.com about butts and the people who expertly cook them low and slow.
Barbecue loyalists: Tune in May 31, 2pmEST to hear from Matt Moore on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.Podcast to iHeart.com.
Reading Barbara Lynch‘s new memoir, “Out of Line: A Life Playing With Fire,” I was gripped with emotion and fascination. The term “Southie” was unfamiliar to this southern girl. So were the housing projects where Barbara grew up in South Boston next door to the notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger. Life in the hardscrabble ‘hood produced a gritty, gutsy gal with a loyal gang of pals. Success was not a straight shot for Barbara but rather a roundabout map with a few crazy detours, hard work and hard knocks. But she made it. Big time. Moxie rules.
Wednesday, May 3, 2pm EST, on The Connected Table LIVE! we speak with Chef Barbara Lynch (Barbara Lynch Gruppo), whose restaurants, all in Boston, including No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, Drink, Sportello and Menton. Barbara is only the second woman to win a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurateur and is recipient of the Amelia Earhart Award for success as a woman in a male dominated field.
Barbara shares her story in her memoir with a funny frankness, and heartfelt sincerity that leaves you inspired. Her slogan is “Quenelles of Steel.” You better believe it!
Buy this book on Amazon. Click here:
Wednesday, May 3, The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.com. Podcast to iHeart.com
After a week of intensive wine tasting in Napa Valley, we decided to treat ourselves to a maple syrup weekend in the Hudson Valley. We picked two farms to visit in nearby Dutchess County: Madava Farms, producers of Crown Maple Syrup, and Soukup Farms.
A “farm” can be many things much like a “country house.” The large stone sign at the entrance to Madava Farms was followed by a long driveway opening up to a vast property still covered with snow and surrounded by a forest of maple trees linked by sap tubing. The large sap production building and company store was packed with visitors coming for the weekend of maple syrup tastings, maple inflected cocktails and lunch offerings such as maple chicken tacos, maple pork sliders, fried chicken strips with maple syrup waffles and maple shakes. Outside, kids (and one big kid) roasted marshmallows over a fire pit.
Madava Farms started as a family retreat for Robb and Lydia Turner. They’ve turned it and their sought after maple syrup into quite a business! Madava Farms has 20,000 trees over 800 acres, plus 4000 acres in Vermont.
Just a short drive away and a world apart in style but equal in substance when it comes to a quality product lies Soukup Farms. It’s more of a farmstead with all the Soukup family members living in separate houses on the property. Originally a cattle farm, the Soukups started tapping maple syrup in 1955 as a hobby. Today they produce over 2000 saps from two sugarbushes (a cluster of sugar maple trees). Pat Soukup gave us a tour of the small facility where we met her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
The maple season is short, roughly 40-50 days depending on the weather. It takes freezing nights and thawing days for the best sap. Higher temperatures can affect the quality. This year’s warmer winter was a curse; the recent blizzard and colder temperatures were a blessing. As Pat Soukup told us, “We are farmers first. We learn to deal with the weather and the outcome.”
Demand for maple syrup is on the rise. Health and wellness gurus promote it as a preferred natural sweetener (in moderation) and filled with antioxidants to fight inflammation, among other benefits. Chefs and bartenders are adding maple syrup to dishes and drinks. There’s even Drink Maple water which we tasted at the Summer Fancy Food Show. We learned at our tasting at Crown Maple that lighter grade maple syrup is better for diabetics and the darker grade for athletes. We learned at Soukup Farms that the tree holds the secret to the color of sap that will seep out as demonstrated by this rainbow of saps collected this winter.
Listen to our interview with Michael Cobb, CEO at Crown Maple Syrup. The Connected Table LIVE! on iHeart.com
The spring buds are breaking in Napa Valley which puts everyone in a good mood after recent rains. Driving along Highway 29 gazing out at expansive wine estates, it’s hard to envision the ranch towns of the 1960’s when Napa Valley’s earliest vintners scooped up farmland for a fraction of what it would cost today.
It was an investment that paid off, and a gamble that hit the jackpot with international media attention from promotional stunts like the 1976 Judgement of Paris and numerous accolades for Napa Valley wines. Still, in spite of its international reputation, Napa Valley is still among the world’s smallest wine regions with just 4% of California’s wine grape harvest and only one-eighth of the planted acreage of Bordeaux, according to the Napa Valley Vintners Association.
Stewards and Successors
Napa’s first commercial winery was established in 1861. America’s first designated Agricultural Preserve in 1968, Napa was established as an A.V.A. in 1981; today there are 16. 95% of Napa Valley’s wineries family-owned. Meet founding families of Napa who are working hard to preserve their legacies: Janet and Hailey Trefethen, Trefethen Vineyards, and Bill and Will Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
I have always had a fascination with cowboys after spending a few nights on a cattle station in the Australian Outback and at a dude ranch in Arizona. But I’ve never met a real-life cowgirl. Janet Trefethen is a top ranked equestrian and a member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She’s also the first women CEO of an American Corporation. Janet and John Trefethen oversee the winery established by his parents Eugene and Catherine in 1968. The historic farm property located in Oak Knoll was originally built in 1868 as “Eschol,” which is a biblical term for “lush cluster of grapes.”
Janet’s daughter and son, Hailey and Loren Trefethen, have joined their parents in running the winery. Hailey has been overseeing the restoration of the original 1868 building which was damaged in the earthquake on April 24, 2014. The building is reopening this May (2017). Recently we spoke with Janet and Hailey on The Connected Table LIVE.
1973 was a big year for both the Trefethen and Phelps families. It was the first vintage for Trefethen and it was the year Joseph Phelps purchased a 600+ acre cattle ranch on the east side of St. Helena to create his namesake winery. Phelps, who owned a construction business, worked with architect John Marsh Davis to build the winery of his dreams to produce the wines he desired. He’s credited with being one of the first California producers to focus on Rhone style blends as well his signature Bordeaux blend, Insignia. We visited Joseph Phelps Vineyards for the first time this week. It was like visiting a sanctuary for fine wine.
Bill Phelps joined his father’s winery after a career in law and finance. Like his father, Bill takes a long-term strategy to producing wines and maintaining the Phelps legacy. One of his most notable initiatives was to transition the entire winery portfolio to estate grown. Bill will be joined by son, Will Phelps, who is the winery’s Director of Marketing.
Listen to our show with Janet and Hailey Trefethen and Bill and Will Phelps on iHeart.com
In our March Women Making a Mark spotlight we have two very dynamic guests March 15th on The Connected Table LIVE! Both are passionately devoted to promoting diversity and collaboration within the industry and to giving back.
First up is Karen Hoskin, president and co-founder of Montanya Distillers based in Crested Butte, Colorado. Montanya utilizes old world artisan traditions to make its collection of rums which have been awarded 18 Gold and Silver Medals in International Competitions. In 2013 the company was named Craft Distiller of the Year by the American Distilling Institute (ADI) who has tapped Karen to be its keynote speaker for its upcoming conference April 3-6 in Baltimore.
Our second guest is making history with her Phenomenal Femmes winemaker dinner series with The Ritz Carlton Central Park in Manhattan. Marika Vida is the hotel’s Wine Director. She is also a sought after speaker, adviser and educator through her company, Vida et Fils. Phenomenal Femmes, now in its fourth year, spotlights women winemakers around the globe. Proceeds from the dinner series benefit the women’s shelter at Crossroads Community Services in New York which provides food, shelter and other aid to individuals in need regardless of national origin, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disabilities. www.crossroadscommunitynyc.org
Listen live on W4CY.com 2pmEST and anytime on iHeart.com
It had been awhile since either of had spent much time in Sonoma Valley, so we felt lucky to add three nights for a visit following our stay at Meadowood in St. Helena for the Professional Wine Writers Symposium. Where Napa feels gentrified and sophisticated, Sonoma feels bucolic and achaten-suisse.com laid back. It’s like comparing cashmere to fleece; they both feel great and will keep you warm outside, and you want both for different reasons.
The first two nights were spent at Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley tasting wines, exploring the expansive estate and enjoying a quiet dinner with Lisa Mattson and her husband, Damon, at BarnDiva in nearby Healdsburg. Lisa was a guest on The Connected Table LIVE! to talk about her book, “The Exes in My Glass.” We met proprietor John Jordan whom we learned has a thing for “Star Wars” movies. Jordan specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and does both well.
Another night took us to The Shed Cafe, a restaurant located in a cookware shop and bakery. Most of the food is locally sourced within 10 miles of Healdsburg. We suggest checking out the four- course tasting menu for $58 with a $25 wine pairing option. Address: 25 North Street, Healdsburg. 707-431-7433 www.healdsburgshed.com
Our final night was spent at Valette whose chef-owner, Dustin Valette visited with us on The Connected Table LIVE March 8th. Dustin began his restaurant career at the age of thirteen washing dishes at Catelli’s in his hometown of Geyserville. A Culinary Institute of America grad, he worked at several top restaurants to fine tune his skills, most recently spending six years as Executive Chef of Dry Creek Kitchen, a Charlie Palmer restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. With his brother and fellow restaurant worker, Aaron Garzini, Dustin hatched a plan to open Valette in a building which housed his great grandfather’s bakery. The two brothers opened Valette in 2015 spotlighting their deep passion and dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine purveyors and producers.
The restaurant is hopping! We dined there the night of the “Oscars.” David noshed on Dustin’s house made charcuterie and Coriander Crusted Liberty Duck Breast with tart pickled cherries and dick + foie grad torchon. Little Miss Healthy Me enjoyed a vegetarian “beet Wellington” described on the menu as Tangerine Infused Beets en Papillote with preserved lemon, farro risotto, baby carrots and Laura Chenel goat cheese and Hawaiian Ahi Poke.
Give This Gal a Forklift!
Katie Madigan, is winemaker at St. Francis Winery. Like many women winemakers I’ve interviewed, Katie started out planning on another career path not realizing the great opportunities for women in wine. She was a chemistry major intent on going into the pharma business. She took an internship as a lab technician at St. Francis in 2003 to pass the time and never left.
Now 14 years later Katie is in charge of making St. Francis’s award winning wines. She says she’s most proud of making great wines widely available for everyone to enjoy. I asked Katie for career tips for aspiring women winemakers. She says: 1. get your experience working in the cellar, 2. learn to run a pump and forklift 3. be ready to get your hands dirty 4. be confident on your palate and 5. be very patient. Careers in wine, like the wine itself, can take time to mature.
While we did not make it to St. Francis Winery in Santa Rosa, we are very familiar with the wines. David has written about St. Francis Winery for Tasting Panel Magazine, and many years ago my former PR firm, M Young Communications, produced St, Francis’s Big Red chef events in New York and Los Angeles. You can arrange a visit, and we hope to next trip. www.stfranciswine.com
Here is our show with Chef Dustin Valette and Winemaker Katie Madigan on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.
City of stars
Just one thing everybody wants
There in the bars
And through the smokescreen of the crowded restaurants
– Lyrics from “La La Land”
My last big trip to La La Land involved supplying George Duboeuf Poully-Fuisse to P Diddy’s Fourth of July White Party in Beverly Hills in 2009. White wine for a white party hosted by a hip hop/rap music mogul. It was hotter than Hades, and there was no shade for the wine bars or gift bags. P Diddy may be a music impressario, but his stiletto-shod, mini-dress clad event production team didn’t have a tent or proper refrigeration for the wines which suffered in the heat. I worked like a crazy person to salvage the wine and to nab this “money shot” for Duboeuf. “Diddy” refused to be photographed holding any alcohol other than his Ciroc Vodka. Still, this photo made them happy,
City of (Restaurant) Stars
Even though Los Angeles is filled with talented chefs and restaurateurs, it’s a New Yorker, Bobby Flay, who’s the first chef to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We haven’t visited Los Angeles for awhile (since the crazy Diddy-do), so it was nice to run into Piero Selvaggio at VINO 2017 and invite him on the show. Piero is a polished Gucci loafer in a sea of sand-crusted flip flops. I like to say Los Angeles is Silicone Valley, where fat is OK for the lips but not for the hips. But back to Piero….
Restaurateur Piero Selvaggio is trim, tan and permanently youthful looking. He has that healthy La La Land glow which New York restaurateurs never seem to have. Maybe it’s the sun and surf; maybe it’s not dealing with the headaches of onerous New York landlords. Or maybe it’s his Sicilian heritage and being brought up on a Mediterranean diet. Piero is one of those amazing restaurateurs who’ve endured economic ups and downs, changes in trends and tastes and even an earthquake which destroyed his award winning wine cellar. And he still looks like a star!
Piero opened his Santa Monica restaurant, Valentino, after graduating in college in 1972. I was still in high school; “Italian food” meant Pasquale’s Pizza parlor and Chef Boyardee in Chattanooga. That was 45 years ago!
I can’t imagine how many Valentine’s Day marriage proposals, wedding anniversaries, or movie deals have been celebrated at Valentino over 45 years. Valentino has won just about every award that matters, especially in wine and service. It is a star among restaurants in the City of Stars.
When we scheduled Piero for our February 15th show he said to me in an email, “We are…the old warriors of the Industry…” No, Piero, we are the enduring ones whose lights are constant and never dim, and who always remain fabulous!
A Corner of Italy- Nobile Di Montepulciano’s Avignonesi
That same summer of Diddy took me (with David) to Tuscany and the Veneto for the Trip of a Lifetime: two weeks touring four wine regions, all for work on a project called Italian Wine Masters which we launched in the USA.
During that trip I discovered and fell in love with Nobile di Montepulciano wines. I remember our visit to Avignonesi and its owner, a gracious woman who hosted us, Virginie Saverys. I ran into Virginie last Fall at the StarChefs International Chefs Congress, and we caught up after so many years.
A lawyer by profession who was born in Ghent, Belgium, Virginie invested in Avignonesi in 20017 and acquired the winery in full in 2009 after retiring from practicing law. Virginie is a strong believer in organic products and homeopathic medicine and has worked to convert the winery to sustainable farming methods. Today, Avignonesi comprised of eight vineyards within the Montepulciano region.
Here’s our show with Virginie Saverys and Piero Selvaggio: