Armagnac: The Heart & Soul of France’s Brandies

France is well known for producing some of the world’s best (and most famous and expensive) wines. Yet, it is also known for producing some of the world’s greatest brandies, most notably Cognac, Armagnac, and Calvados, the latter being not a grape spirit, but one made from either apples or pears.

For grape-based brandies, Cognac and Armagnac rule the roost. Both are made in the Southwestern part of the country, below Bordeaux.

While Cognac, made in the region of the same name, is probably the best known – and certainly most widely distributed – of France’s spirits, it is Armagnac, made south of Cognac in the gastronomically rich region of Gascony, which is the spirit considered by many to be the heart and soul of France’s brandies.

They’re both brandies made from grapes, so they must be similar, right? Not even close.

While Cognac for all intents and purposes is a well-oiled machine, with vast regulations, large corporate structure, and aging/labeling requirements that – for the most part – breed similarity between producers and brands; Armagnac, by contrast, is more like the little engine that could: a fiercely individualistic, sometimes forgotten, always appreciated spirit made by a handful of dedicated producers for whom the art of coaxing brandy from the vineyard’s ether is as integral to their regional identity as their exceptional culinary heritage.

ARM_Vines __ Pyrenees

Armagnac the region is divided into three sub zones: Bas Armagnac, Armagnac –Ténarèze, and Haut Armagnac. All make the spirit Armagnac, and most are created using a blend of grapes. The main grape varietals, all white, used in its production include Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, and Baco (22A), and while the majority of these grapes are also used to produce Cognac, it is the distillation that helps make Armagnac so unique, and individual.


For unlike Cognac production which favors the use of Pot Stills and double distillation, Armagnac production employs using Column Stills and is distilled only once, leaving a new-make brandy (Eau de Vie) with more fruit character and fragrance than those of Cognac. Distilling once also leaves it a little rougher. Not a bad thing, though, as aging in oak alleviates that roughness over time, and brings out the subtleties and nuanced flavors of spice and dried fruit that make Armagnac so beloved.

Interestingly, much of Armagnac production is done employing the use of portable roaming stills that are taken from producer to producer, even those with their own stills, which often go unused. The idea behind this is that since getting the right spirit out of a still requires knowing how to work with it to create a preferred flavor profile, it makes more sense to let the person who “knows the still” make the product. One would think that this would make for a more homogenous product across the board, but it does the opposite, as it allows the process to be micro-tweaked to conform to a particular producer’s specific recipe. Which, in turn, helps make for much more individual end products.

Photo: www.Armagnac.Fr 

So, what makes Armagnac worth searching out? Well, first: Armagnac is the oldest distillation of France, with records dating back to the 1300’s of brandy being made in the region. So, you’re drinking the history of France. Second: Armagnac is for the most part, very small production, with some producers making as little as 4000 bottles annually. So, you’re drinking someone’s handmade effort, more often than not from a family recipe that’s been passed down over many generations. Third: Armagnac producers don’t just use their vintage production to make the more readily available categorized blended brandies they sell (VSOP, XO, etc), they also bottle vintage Armagnac, which can be some of the most interesting (and costly) spirits you’ll ever try. So, you can, with some searching, probably own a bottle of Armagnac from your birth year, or even your Great-Grandfather’s birth year for that matter, making for some very interesting and delicious after dinner conversation. – David Ransom

May Matta Aliah
May Matta Aliah, In the Grape, Educator, Armagnac Ambassador

Want to know more about this wonderful spirit? Tune in to The Connected Table LIVE! on Wednesday February 3 at 2:00p.m. We’ll be talking with In the Grape’s May Matta-Aliah, one of the country’s top wine educators, who is also the American Ambassador for the AOC Armagnac.



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Vitalie Taittinger on the Art of Her Family’s Champagne- Jan 27

Sometimes, if your name is on a product, you’ll do anything to make sure you own it. That’s certainly the case with Champagne Taittinger, the venerable producer of one of the world’s most sought after sparkling wines who famously in 2005 lost their interest in the family winery only to buy it back in 2007 after much resulting debate within the Champagne community (and wine-drinking public) over what parameters constitute the foundation for making Champagne what it is.

Yet, for all the news that story generated, it’s the wine and family behind it that is what keeps Taittinger on the tip of the tongue for any Champagne aficionado year after year.  The House of Taittinger, founded in 1932 by Pierre Taittinger when he purchased an estate in Reims that had been producing Champagne since the 18th Century, is arguably one of the great producers of true classified Champagne in the world.

Taittinger is now run by third generation family member Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, son Clovis and daughter Vitalie, who as Artistic Director and Global Ambassador is the public face and oversees all creative and public endeavors for the House, which along with the usual, also include sponsorship of non-wine industry events like this month’s SAG Awards in Los Angeles where 600 bottles will be uncorked.

Vitalie, Pierre-Emmanuel and Clovis Taittinger
Vitalie, Pierre-Emmanuel and Clovis Taittinger

As with most Champagne houses, Taittinger produces a well-rounded line of Champagnes, including a non-vintage Brut (made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier); and their flagship Comtes de Champagne, made only in the finest vintages and available in both Blanc de Blanc (Chardonnay only), and Brut Rosé (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). It ranks third in amount of vineyard holdings with about 750 acres.

Champagne Taittinger

Known for its pale colors and lively finesse, Taittinger, with its lighter, less oaked style, is considered one of the more versatile Champagnes on the market and fits into almost any setting. An everyday champagne? Well, maybe the Brut, but the Comtes is a Champagne to savor and celebrate those most serious milestones, like a romantic Saturday night at home by the fire – or New Years Eve, of course.

Do you know who the blonde woman is in this iconic Taittinger poster?
Do you know who the blonde woman is in this iconic Taittinger poster?

Vitalie Taittinger joins us January 27, on The Connected Table LIVE.  With a degree from the Emile Cohl School of Design in Lyon and passionate about drawing, painting and design, Vitalie formed her own business promoting clients in the Champagne and gastronomy sectors, then joined Taittinger in 2007. Today Vitalie uses her artistic talents in the marketing and communication department at Champagne Taittinger. Her mission: to develop and reinforce the image of the Champagne house through its visual identity, design and public relations. She lives in Reims with her husband and children.

Vitalie Taittinger
Vitalie Taittinger



Twitter: @TaittingerUSA

U.S. Importer: Kobrand.

Melanie Young and David Ransom, The Connected TableLIVE
David Ransom and Melanie Young, The Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple. Follow:  Twitter@connectedtable  Facebook/theconnectedtable. Learn more about how The Connected Table connects brands and people and follow our blog at

He’s the 7th Cellarmaster in Champagne Perrier-Jouët’s 200+ Year Old History. Meet Hervé Deschamps

BELLE EPOQUEOne of the most delightful drives from Paris is north to the Champagne region. It’s worth spending a few days meandering from town to town, especially starting with the bubbling centers of Reims and Epernay and then villages in between to visit both chateaux and petits maisons to taste and discover.

One of the most spectacular visits is to Maison Belle Epoque, the historic ‘home” for the Perrier-Jouët family (est 1811) filled with Art Nouveau architectural accents and art treasures. What makes a visit even more special is uncorking a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, one of Champagne’s most venerable brands.

Maison Belle Epoque
Maison Belle Epoque

We speak with Perrier Jouët‘s Chef de Cave and Cellarmaster Hervé Deschamps about the brand’s history and styles, the renovation of Maison Belle Epoque and Perrier-Jouët’s significant commitment to the arts on The Connected Table LIVE! November 18, 2pm EST on W4CY and podcast to and the iHeart App.

Herve Deschamps, Cellarmaster, Champagne Perrier-Jouet
Hervé Deschamps, Cellarmaster, Champagne Perrier-Jouët

Born in the Champagne region and schooled in Dijon, Hervé  has worked Perrier-Jouët since 1983 and has been Cellarmaster since 1993. He is only the 7th person to hold that title in the 200+ year history of the house. In fact, for the first time the doors of Maison Belle Epoque are not “open” to all guests through a virtual tour of its historic cellars.

To work with these iconic wines one must keep a sense of preserving the legacy while working to improve the brand at the same time, a delicate balance of philosophy and wine making that does not come easily. In fact it was 12 years before Hervé was able to put his own stamp on one of the wines he made, his first blend coming in 1995 with that vintage’s release of Belle Epoque, a distinctive champagne so well known for the Art Nouveau style Flower Bottle.

Belle Epoque Blanc 2007 shows one of the distinctive floral designs on the bottles that distinguishes Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Champagne
Belle Epoque Blanc 2007 shows one of the distinctive floral designs on the bottles that distinguishes Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne

Tune in November 18, 2pmEST to hear from Hervé Deschamps and connect to learn more:  Twitter@perrier-jouet  Facebook/perrier-jouet  Instagram/perrer-jouet

Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple on The Connected Table LIVE!. Contact them at

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Happy 80th Birthday Jacques Pépin! – The Connected Table LIVE Sept 23

There are many well-known chefs in television thanks to the proliferation of cooking shows and culinary competitions. But Jacques Pépin, stands in a league of his own.

Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul is his 14th series for PBS/KQED (photo:
Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul is his 14th cooking series for PBS/KQED (photo:

He’s an Emmy Award and James Beard-winning host of 14 cooking shows series on PBS-TV and is author of dozens of acclaimed books, including his newest,  Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, (Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Oct 6, 2015).


He teaches on cruise lines, and makes guest appearances at many industry and charitable events, but his teaching “home” is  the International Culinary Center (formerly French Culinary Institute) where he serves as Dean of Special Programs.

Photo credit:
Photo credit: International Culinary Center

Jacques has taught and inspired many on the techniques and pleasures of cooking. I swear by his method for cooking omelets. In fact his book, La Technique, is still used today as a textbook for teaching the fundamentals of French cooking and also launched the PBS series  and companion DVD”The Complete Pépin”

complete pepin

Born in Bourg-en-Bresse near Lyon, in 1935, Jacques grew up in a restaurant family. His parents, Jeanette and Jean-Victor Pépin, owned the restaurant Le Pélican, where Jacques worked before furthering his training in France at establishments that included the Plaza Athénée. He served as the personal chef to three French heads of state including Charles de Gaulle. In 1959 he came to the U.S. to work at Le Pavillon restaurant. One of the restaurant’s regular customers, Howard Johnson, took notice of Jacques and recruited him to work alongside fellow fellow French Chef Pierre Franey, to develop the food line for his Howard Johnson’s restaurant chain.

The Young Chef-Apprentice

Since then, Jacques has gone on to be one of our nation’s- and world’s- most influential and inspiring teachers and chefs. While his toque may stand tall, his kindness has the common touch. You always feel welcome in Jacques’ presence; there are no PR shields or security detail surrounding him. He is approachable. He often travels to events with longtime pal, Jean-Claude Szurdak, or daughter Claudine, who has both co-hosted shows and co-written books with her father, including KQED’s “Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine” (1998)  “Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine “(1998).

Of course some of our most beloved shows are those with his friend, the late Julia Child. The twenty-two episode series, “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home,” was the winner of The James Beard Foundation’s award for Best National Cooking Show — 2001, and the duo received a 2001 Daytime Emmy Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Julia may be gone but the books and videos remain.



Some of my earliest memories of Jacques are working with The James Beard Foundation. He oversaw the Celebration of French Cooking reception theme for the 1993 James Beard Foundation Awards. Jacques was the consummate perfectionist, calling me frequently to check in and to weigh in on the menu and progress. He was a guest presenter every year of the awards, and many of his books and TV shows have received award medallions. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Melanie with Claudine and Jacques  Pépin at Les Dames d'Escoffier NY Dinner honoring Jacques (October  2011)
Melanie with Claudine and Jacques Pépin at Les Dames d’Escoffier NY Dinner honoring Jacques (October 2011)

When I served as President of Les Dames d’Escoffier New York we honored Jacques at a lavish dinner to fund raise for the organization’s scholarship program for women. Jacques also taught me to saber a bottle of champagne during the Food & Wine Classic years ago.

My Saber Mentor
Melanie and Jacques at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

Jacques is also a talented artist, and his work has graced many special  event menus and been donated to raise funds for several worthy causes.

Vase of Flower (
Vase of Flower (

You can also see Jacques’ illustrations in Claudine’s, book “Kids Cook French.” For more on Claudine listen to my June 8th edition of Fearless Fabulous You! here.


Jacques has been awarded two of the French government’s highest honors:  Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (1992). In October 2004, he received France’s ultimate civilian recognition, the Légion d’honneur.

While his wall of awards and drawer of medallions  mark the milestones of his career, it’s the milestones in his close knit family that matter most to this dedicated husband and father: Claudine’s marriage to Chef Rollie Wesen, the birth of granddaughter Shorey, and the recent 49th wedding anniversary with wife Gloria.

Jacques with daughter Claudia and granddaughter Shorey on the  set at KQED (www.KQED/org)
Jacques with daughter Claudia and granddaughter Shorey on the set at KQED (www.KQED/org)
Jacques and Gloria Pepin from Jacques' Facebook Page
Jacques and Gloria Pépin posted on Jacques’ Facebook Page September 18, 2015

As for his 80th birthday, the celebrations started earlier this year at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Conference with an 80 cake salute and continued in June at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen with a giant croquembouche. Who knows what’s up his chef’s jacket sleeve for the December celebration, but we know it will be delicious and  involve very good champagne!

One thing I know is Jacques Pépin, at nearly 80 years young he is the poster child for the French way of eating and living well and savor life to the fullest. – Melanie Young

One of the 80 birthday cakes at the 2015 IACP Conference Photo: (


Giant croquembouche at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen (
Giant croquembouche at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen ( 

Tune in September 23, 2pm EST, to The Connected Table LIVE! for our visit with Jacques Pépin on W4CY and App. Link to all shows:

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Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple. Follow on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable

Jacques Capsouto: A Life Reinvented

Couples and families alike spent many memorable meals at Capsouto Frères, a gem of a restaurant in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood owned by Jacques Capsouto, his mother, Eva, and his two younger brothers, Albert and Samuel. Opened in the 1980s when Tribeca was still a “fringe” neighborhood, the restaurant survived three decades of New York City’s highs and lows, from Wall Street bull and bear markets and the September 11th terrorist attacks which put Lower Manhattan businesses in a standstill, to the loss of Jacques’ beloved mother and youngest brother, Albert.

Jacques Capsouto in front of Capsouto Freres (photo: David Ransom)
Jacques Capsouto in front of Capsouto Frères   (photo: David Ransom)

Through it all, Jacques stood front and center at events that supported the industry,  generously giving his time to various causes from charity dinners, to festive Compagnons du Beaujolais celebrations and Capsouto Frères’ enormously popular Passover Seders.

Jacques Capsouto (far right) with fellow members of the Compagnons du Beaujolais with Franck Duboeuf, Les Vins George Duboeuf
Jacques Capsouto (far right) with fellow members of the Compagnons du Beaujolais with Franck Duboeuf, Les Vins George Duboeuf

After Hurricane Sandy demolished Capsouto Frères in 2012, Jacques decided not to rebuild the restaurant. After 32 years as a restaurateur and at the age of 68, he decided to reinvent his life as a full time vintner in Israel.

You can read more about Jacques and his decision to close Capsouto Frères in an article David and I co-wrote for the January 2013 issue of Tasting Panel Magazine on how the industry came together after Hurricane Sandy.

Jacques’ interest in Israel’s growing wine industry was sparked after he attended a family function there in 2004.  In 2006 he decided to pursue planting vines in the Holy Land and in 2010 found what he was looking for in Peki’in, an area about 20 miles from the Mediterranean. During that time he traveled back and forth from York, where he was overseeing to his restaurant, to Israel where he tended to his vines.

While most wines in Israel are made from international varietals (e.g., Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc), Jacques looked closer to the Mediterranean to source rootstock from southern France. He selected Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah and Counoise for his reds, and Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussane and Marsanne for the whites.  Planting began in 2011.  The first harvest started in August 2014.
Jacques Capsouto vignes

Working with wine consultant, Jean-Luc Colombo, Jacques has introduced his first vintage. The Jacques Capsouto Vignobles Côtes de Galilée Villages portfolio includes an entry level white and rosé called Cuvée Eva (named after Jacques’ mother), an entry level red called Cuvée Samuel (named after Jacques’ grandfather), a reserve white, Cuvée Albert (named after Jacques’ youngest brother) and a reserve red, Cuvée Marco (named after Jacques’ father). All wines are certified kosher. The U.S. importer is Roadhouse Wines.

Jacques’ life is a story of love, family, loss, survival and reinvention. The two wines we tasted, Cuvée Eva Rosé and Cuvée Eva White, are expressive and soulful, much like the spirit of their creator.

Jacques Capsouto paid The Connected Table LIVE! a visit from Israel where his vines were in full harvest on September 9th. Hear the full interview at this iHeartRadio link: Or, sut and paste here:



David Ransom Eat Explore Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Monet’s Palate: From Garden to Table with Aileen Bordman

If you’ve ever visited the lush bucolic home of the painter, Claude Monet. you will be transformed by its beautiful gardens. Located in a the tiny and very pretty town of Giverny, France, it’s an easy day trip everyone must take from Paris and, please, allow plenty of time to savor it.

Taken on my trip to Giverny in August 2014
Taken on my trip to Giverny in August 2014

Another way to savor Monet’s gardens is through Aileen Bordman‘s book Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny (Gibbs-Smith Publishers). Written with garden writer, Derek Fell, this book includes 60 recipes linked to Monet’s two-acre kitchen garden near his home in Giverny. With a forward written by none other than Meryl Streep and recipes beautiful photographed by Steven Rothfeld, Monet’s Palate Cookbook transports you to the French countryside in the days of the Impressionists when farm to table was the only way to eat.


Aileen joins us on The Connected Table LIVE! August 26, 2:30PMEST, to share her own personal journey through Monet’s Garden as filmmaker and culinary historian. President and Founder of Monet’s Palate, Inc, she has been immersed in the world of Claude Monet since 1980 and has more than 35 years of firsthand experience at Monet’s home and gardens. Her knowledge and passion with respect to Claude Monet’s lifestyle, cuisine, gardens and art prompted the creation of the Monet’s Palate concept.

Aileen Bordman
Aileen Bordman

Aileen is the creator and producer of the acclaimed documentary film titled “Monet’s Palate: A Gastronomic View from the Garden,” which has been broadcast nationally through American Public Television to all 350 PBS stations.  She independently wrote and produced the film Monet’s Palate with Meryl Streep, Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud, Michel Richard and Steve Wynn. The film has been screened from Cannes to New York, and was featured during the six-month “Monet’s Garden” exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden in New She lives just outside New York City in New Jersey. Website:  Twitter@monetspalate  Facebook/Monets.Palate.Claude.Monet

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She’s Got Game – D’Artagnan’s Ariane Daguin- June 3

One of the best things I’ve ever popped in my mouth is a D’Artagnan French Kiss (prunes soaked in Armagnac filled with silky foie gras mousse). I can’t resist them! On June 3 on The Connected Table LIVE! we visited with  Ariane Daguin, owner, Co-Founder, and CEO of D’Artagnan, the leading gourmet food purveyor of all-natural and organic meats, charcuterie, and mushrooms in the United States, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Click here to listen to the episode on iHeart.

Ariane Daguin

Revered as a culinary innovator among America’s top chefs, Ariane has been at the forefront of the organic and sustainable movement in America, pioneering organic, free-range meats (years before the USDA allowed the word “organic” on the label), preservative free foods, and humanely-raised livestock for over 25 years. Ariane and D’Artagnan have since become renowned for putting the finest foie gras, meat, game, truffles, and mushrooms on the tables of American gastronomes, whether at home or in 4-star restaurants.

Born into a world of great food, Ariane’s father, Chef André Daguin, is famous throughout France for his artistry with foie gras and other Gascon specialties. Ariane was expert at deboning ducks, rendering duck fat, preparing terrines and cooking game birds by the time she was ten. Her creation of D’Artagnan in 1985 has since introduced new epicurean foods to chefs and contributed to the growing sophistication in American cuisine. Today, D’Artagnan’s products are served at leading restaurants and Ariane continues to infuse the indusry- and new generations of chefs- with her unbridled enthusiasm.

Among her many industry accolades, Ariane was recognized in 1994 by The James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. In 2005,  she received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Bon Appétit magazine. In September 2006, she was awarded the prestigious French Legion d’Honneur for her work making French cuisine a part of American life.  Ariane is also the founding president of Les Nouvelles Mères Cuisinières, an international association of prestigious women chefs and Les Dames d’Escoffier International.

Ariane’s segment with us was once of the best explanations of how D’Artagnan works to closely replicate the natural feeding habits of geese to produce D’Artagan’s world renowned foie gras.

Melanie Young


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Join Melanie and David on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays, 2pm ET on and anytime on iHeart

Families in the Business: Rita and Nicolas Jammet on The Connected Table LIVE! March 25

Rita and Andre Jammet
Rita and Andre Jammet

We have many friends in the food and beverage industry but none as dear to us like family as the Jammets. Parents Rita and André Jammet were proprietors of the La Caravelle restaurant, continuing the restaurant’s legendary reputation for exceptional French food, wine and service. Always, an evening at La Caravelle was delicious and memorable, and we had many.  At the helm of La Caravelle, Rita and André truly “walked with kings” while keeping the common touch. Everyone who dined at La Caravelle was treated like royalty.  The Champagne flowed as generations of couples and families celebrated special occasions and moguls inked deals over classic French food served with quiet refinement.

It was the end of an era when the Jammets decided to close La Caravelle in 2004. The socio-economic fallout from the September 11th attacks had not been kind to many New York City restaurants. The closing of La Caravelle was a terrible loss to the city and to the legions of customers who relished every moment dining at this amazing restaurant. But doors shut and others open. In Rita’s case, it wasn’t just doors opening; it was champagne corks popping.

Rita decided to carry on the torch and name with line of exceptional La Caravelle Champagne. The portfolio includes a blanc de blanc, brut cuvée and rosé, as well as a red Bordeaux from the Listrac-Medoc appellation. Her wines are now sold in dozens of NYC restaurants and elsewhere.

Rita jammet
Champagne Lady Rita Jammet

Rita applies the same dedication and hospitable nature to selling her champagne as she did to running her restaurant. On any given night she is out and about trying new restaurants, supporting charitable events and posting Tweets to acknowledge and praise chefs and sommeliers for their hard work and dedication. Even without her own bricks and mortar restaurant to oversee Rita is an indefatigable brand ambassador for exceptional hospitality, wine and food and all things fabulous and French. We are delighted that the spirit of La Caravelle continues with this sparkling reincarnation. And we are delighted to have Rita join us, followed by son Nicolas on March 25th on The Connected Table LIVE! as part of our Families in the Business series.



resturant business magazineWe were pleased to see Rita and Andre Jammet and entrepreneurial sons Patrick and Nicolas on the cover of the recent Restaurant Business Magazine. Third son Christophe, also an entrepreneur, was on a holiday that included a marriage proposal on a mountain-top at the time of the photo shoot,

On March 25th we also chat with son Nicolas Jammet, Founder and Co-CEO of  sweetgreen, the much-loved, organic, farm-to-table salad shops originating in Washington, D.C. To say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is an understatement with any of the Jammet sons and especially Nicolas.  His is a classic success story of three college buddies with an idea and a business plan. Nicolas graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2007, where he met his business partners, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru.

The three entrepreneurs founded sweetgreen during their senior year, opening their first location in Georgetown in August 2007 – just three months out of college. The idea was born from their belief that the community would benefit from a healthy, delicious, and eco-friendly dining option.  They passionately believed it was possible to create “food that fits” – your values, your budget, your tastes, your imagination, and your community.

Nicolas Jammet
Nicolas Jammet

Since then, they have built sweetgreen to become the market leader in local, organic, healthy fast food, with over 1,000 employees and 29 stores throughout Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia, and Maryland. 2015 will see a West Coast launch with stores opening in Los Angeles and Santa Monica in early spring. sweetgreen has become a local favorite not only for its delicious, healthy, high quality and affordable fast food, but also for its commitment to local farmers, the community, sustainability, and an outstanding company culture.

In 2010, the sweetgreen partners founded sweetlife, which over the last four years has grown to become the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest music and food festival. The event features a curated selection of cutting edge and high profile artists and attracts 20,000 attendees – not to mention outstanding food from top chefs, food trucks, local purveyors and farmers. The event embraces good living, along with health and well-being, community and sustainability, and leaves a gentle footprint as a carbon-neutral event – a party with a purpose.

Nicolas and his partners have been selected as Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30: Food & Wine” and Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under.” The brand has received numerous accolades from the press, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Food & Wine, Forbes, Bloomberg, Washingtonian, CBS, and CNBC, among others.



Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!

Join the Insatiable Curious Culinary Couple Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays on The Connected Table LIVE! 2pm ET/11 am PT on  Shows podcasts are available on demand anytime at  Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.  Connect with us at:

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Savory Chatter on the Connected Table Live! Dec. 3

Her Miami Herald “Dinner in Minutes” column is distributed on the McClatchy Wire Service to over 6 million readers each week. She is the “go to” source for all things culinary in South Florida and the Keys and is author of The Flavor of the Florida Keys (new!) and Keys Cuisine.

She is the producer and host of the weekly segment part of Topical Currents, “Food News and Views,” on WLRN 91.3 FM and National Public Radio where she dispenses great tips on cooking for the family and showcases well-known chefs and personalities from around the world, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Lee Iacocca, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse.

She is an award winning author of over 30 books, including three recently released books covering diabetes friendly cooking published in cooperation with the American Diabetes Association: No-Fuss Diabetes Desserts, Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals, Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.

Linda Gassenheimer
Linda Gassenheimer

TV and Radio Personality, Syndicated Journalist, Best Selling Author, Spokesperson, and Food Consultant Linda Gassenheimer joins us December 3 to discuss her latest books, the culinary scene in South Florida and cooking for both your pleasure and for your health.


You have to love a woman whose Twitter description reads: Wife. Author. Speaker. Traveler. Biker. Fave hobbies: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You have to love a woman who recommends bread, Champagne, chocolate and romance as key ingredients to a balanced diet and lifestyle,

You have to admire a woman who has written three international best-selling books on the art of living well: French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Women for all Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure and French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude

You have to respect a woman who reached the top echelon of both the wine and spirits and luxury goods industries as CEO of Clicquot Inc. where she is credited with growing Champagne Veuve Clicquot’s market share in America grew from less than one percent to more than 25 percent.

Mireille Giuliano
Mireille Giuliano

We’re talking about Mireille Giuliano, who has been called “the high priestess of French lady wisdom” (USA Today), “an ambassador of France and its art of living” (Le Figaro), “an idea entrepreneur” (Harvard Business Review) and “an art-of-living guru” (The New York Times).

We call her uber-preneur. Her savoir faire lifestyle has been admired, adopted and followed by legions. Mireille is out with a delightful new book, Meet Paris Oyster, just in time to enjoy holidays on the half shell. We’ll be speaking with Mireille about all things we love about food, champagne and France and her approach to la joie de vivre


Join Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple features the dynamic people who both work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits, cookbook publishing and hospitality. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Meet Two Spirited Women on The Connected Table Live Oct 15

Melanie and David talk with two spirited women on Wednesday’s edition of The Connected Table LIVE Wednesday, October 15th, 2pm ET/6pmPT W4CY

Lizzie da Trindade Macchu Pisco
Lizzie da Trindade
Macchu Pisco

Our first guest is Lizzie da Trindade-Asher, President of Macchu Pisco, who with her sister, Melanie, have helped share Peru’s national drink with the world. A lawyer by training Lizzie directs the legal, marketing, and importing side of Macchu Pisco and its sister brands, La Diablada and Ñusta Pisco. Melanie oversees production in Peru. Together, Lizzie and Melanie have achieved 30 percent growth annually since founding the company in 2004. “Every day, I am inspired by my sister’s dedication to creating authentic pisco,” says Lizzie, who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, worked for the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton, and earned a degree with honors from Harvard Law School.

Their pisco is an un-aged 80 proof clear spirit derived from a single distillation of fresh fermented grape juice (wine). It takes at least 4 bottles of wine to produce one bottle of pisco. It is from this costly process that an elegant spirit is born, one which most closely captures the essence of the grape. According to Lizzie, pisco is traditionally a sipping spirit. Because denomination rules require no additives whatsoever, pisco can be considered organic and thus should not produce a hangover, the mark of a real pisco.

Lizzie and her sister are active in supporting and improving Peruvian working conditions and women’s rights, as well as Latinas in business and education both in Peru and the U.S. Macchu Pisco established a precedent in Peru to support traditionally underpaid farmers by paying fair wages to the women who harvest their grape crops. They also ensure their socioeconomic goals are met from ground to glass by employing a vertical integration model—the only pisco company to hold such credentials—owning and overseeing each step of the production process. They also formed the Asher-Ezra Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to underprivileged Latino children in the Bronx.


Allison Patel Brenne Whiskey
Allison Patel
Brenne Whiskey
Our second guest is Allison Patel, founder and owner of Brenne Single Malt Whisky produced in Cognac region of France. Allison’s professional background combines arts and smarts. As a young girl she was a professional ballerina performing with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. After retiring from the corps de ballet she worked in national sales and marketing for EXHALE Spa, setting and exceeding sales goals.

Her move from the ballet barre world to the cocktail bar world is just another sign of her entrepreneurial spirit. Traveling in France pursuing her passion for good food and drink and blogging about whiskey for pleasure at, she discovered a single malt whiskey being produced from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Fond of fine whiskeys from lesser known areas, Alison’s interest was piqued. She researched the potential to import smaller production “world whiskies” to the U.S. eventually establishing an import/export company to focus on this category of distilled spirits.

Brenne (rhymes with men) is produced by a third generation cognac producer who was growing estate barley as well as grapes. The cognac was matured in French Limousin oak barrels imparting a smooth taste and fruit forward notes that captured Allison’s attention. Her talent for persuasion and sales helped Allison strike a deal with the producer who had only producing this special cognac whiskey for the family. Over a three and a half year period she refined the process with the producer finishing the spirit in XO cognac barrels after five – six years aging in the Limousin oak ones. The result is smooth, aromatic, spicy yet mellow and unlike any other whiskey we’ve tasted.

Allison was named one of the Top 10 Women in Whisky by Drinks Business Magazine and awarded Highly Commended in the Icon of Whisky award for Brand Innovator of the Year for 2014.


The Connected Table Live airs live Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ET/11a.m. PT on W4CY Radio The show is available on demand at and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.

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