My first head chef was a large stately man, often angry, often sweaty. I don’t remember much of him other than bulging veins, the ability to toss a ramekin blindly from the pass to the dish pit without hitting apprentice nor kitchen hand, and one piercing piece of advice…
The most common misconception about chefs: “Oh you’re a chef! You must cook at home a lot”.
BULLOCKS… We eat out and we eat out a lot. If we aren’t feeding you, someone else is feeding us. Except, of course, for a few exceptions where you will, indeed, find us cooking. These being; trying to show off or impress someone, our mums are staying over, or we are holding a dinner party. In fact both of the latter cases fall under the initial. Another one is, when ones beer selection is better at home.
If the latter is true, why is this so? As a chef I understand flavour diversity. I truly understand that the food I create can take people only a portion of the intended sensory journey. When paired with a beer that can counterbalance everything the dish lacks, or embellish everything the dish boasts, this truly is a dining experience. To deny our diners of this is somewhat naive but also ignorant to our changing industry.
Over the last 16 years dinner parties in my house have changed alongside restaurant menus. Seasonal produce, introduction of new products into the country, the obsessions and changing trends from comfort food to deconstructed confit pork belly pies, we have followed it all (with the exception of stemless wine glasses…don’t get me started) . But this year has seen the biggest change of all.
Out with the wine and in with stout. Yep I said it, my wine cellar fridge is now full of Clout Stout, Brooklyn Black Ops, Epic Double Chocolate, Bumaye. If it’s an imperial stout – and, even better, aged in some form of recycled pinot noir, bourbon or rum barrel – then you are my dinner party guest.
Don’t get me wrong, I love wine. Its place in the food industry was firmly cemented along time ago and rightly so. My well thought out cellar fridge decision came about not from a distain toward the bold and ever complimentary vino industry, but more so from a lack of options when dining out.
“Would you care to see the wine list ma’am?” Forty-five pages lands on my lap.
What I would like is a Dupont Saison to compliment my rabbit ragu, maybe a Red Hill Scotch Ale for my brisket, and finish my meal with maybe a little Feral Boris and some Cropwell bishop Blue.
Alas. “We will get a bottle of the Bordeaux, thanks”.
My meal comes out and is beautiful, perfectly balanced, well seasoned. I couldn’t fault it, if only I could stop thinking of how perfectly paired it would be had the chef constructed a beer list to match.
I leave thinking of my head chefs words , “Always update your industry knowledge”, just as a stately sweaty man blindly tosses a ramekin from the pass to the dish pit.
Irony would be a great name for a beer.