1. How did you end up as a Guest Mentor on The Taste?
I was asked to participate by a mutual acquaintance of Tony and myself. I am also long-time friends with Ludo, who also encouraged me to be on the show.
2. Each contestant was given the theme of daring pairings. What are your top three rules for pairing foods and wines – both for home cooks and our aspiring contestants?
1. Look for similar weights in both the taste and the wine. Light bodied wines with lighter foods, medium bodied with medium weight foods, etc.
2. The key to great food is correct seasoning with salt and acid. Acidity is always important for a great pairing. In general, wines with good acid and balance are the direction you want to go in.
3. Ultimately, there are no rules. If you like to drink a wine with a dish you like to eat, no one can tell you it is incorrect if it is giving you pleasure.
3. What are your go top two go-to red and white wines?
I love German Rieslings and Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley and red wines from Burgundy and the Jura. For me, they are completely delicious on their own and usually always medium bodied with great acidity. As for pairing, they all tend to be quite versatile, working with all kinds of meat and fish dishes, even vegetarian dishes.
4. The Taste show is focused solely on the flavor of the food, and has little to do with the presentation. Your food at Manresa is quite visual. How do you feel about this concept?
Presentation in a restaurant is very important. Great food is even better when it is presented in an appetizing manner. There is truth to the old saying that first we eat with our eyes.
5. You have a partnership with Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farms, which supplies your restaurant Manresa with fresh vegetables. Can you tell me a little bit about your sustainability philosophy and what advice you would offer the contestants on the show?
Sustainability for us is a happy byproduct of what our ultimate goal was. Our belief is that the best tasting food comes from great quality ingredients from the very beginning, a very important detail we always try to concentrate on. Our relationship with Cynthia at Love Apple Farms originally started because we wanted the best tasting products possible, not to make a sustainability statement. It was afterwards that I realized that being respectful of the land and sustainable practices didn't hinder but rather helped us in our search.