As the festive season begins, each week throughout December we have assembled a special selection of seasonal recipes just for you created by Dourthe Chef, Frédéric Bozzo, presented together with their matching wines.
Four simple, yet gourmet, party menus to impress your guests…but before you take to the stove, Frédéric Bozzo shares his personal vision of food and wine.
How did your passion for cooking all start?
F.B: My love of cooking began at the same time as my love of wine. My father was a cellar master, and I discovered wine before I became a chef. So naturally the next step was to study hotel and catering, which gave me a broad grounding in all the different professions, including head waiter, chef and sommelier. So in a “former life” I was Sommelier & Head Waiter for 15 years.
My love of cooking came with the wine. And this rather unusual approach is mirrored in my way of working; I prefer to start from a list of wines in order to create or adapt the dishes.
How long have you been working with Dourthe?
F.B: I have worked with Dourthe since 2000, when I was taken on as Chef. On a day to day basis, I manage the lunches and dinners organised for our customers in a number of Dourthe-owned chateaux.
Which regional specialities or “terroir” products do you prefer to cook with?
F.B: I don’t have any particular regional favourites; I experiment with products from each region like an organist plays his organ. My aim is to present the wine with different products – I am the antithesis of a traditional chef. So I start with a good wine and look to match it to a characterful dish.
The most important aspect for me when working with food and wine pairing is to find the perfect alliance balancing the structure of the dish and the wine, in order to create the perfect balance of aromas and flavours.
I have for example created an entire meal based on white wines.
Do you have any advice on sourcing your ingredients?
F.B: every product has its own selection criteria, but first of all you need to choose your suppliers, so find a butcher who can source tender, premium quality meat. For vegetables, we sometimes go to the market, but not always. We work essentially with several market gardeners with whom we have built a relationship of trust.
On an everyday basis I cook essentially with seasonal produce. For me, it is important to revert to the rhythm of the seasons. So winter is the season of leeks, cabbage, apples and pears. Scallops, invariably associated with special occasions, are available from November through to April.
To be sure to choose your produce well, it is important to remember that cooking is essentially all about sensation: a product that you can touch, feel and essentially cook should be fun and amusing to preserve the attractiveness of a product.
Do you have a top tip to find the finest food and wine pairings?
F.B: A good pairing is based on knowing the wine you are going to serve really well – it’s important to understand the flavours and structure to be able to identify the dish that will match.
To make a successful food and wine pairing, the correct balance of sweet, salty, acidic and bitter is essential, these are the four cornerstones of cooking. It isn’t possible to achieve this balance with the dish alone, it can only be attained through the harmony of the dish and wine.
This can be illustrated with two different meats: pigeon, which is known as quite an acidic meat, should be served with a supple wine, such as Château Reysson, Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois. Beef, in contrast, which is sweeter, would go with a Saint Emilion such as Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, or a Pomerol.
And what is your favourite food and wine pairing?
F.B: Just one dish, it’s complicated but I would say oyster stew in a red wine sauce. This dish is unusual as we are used to serving shellfish with white wine, but in this case, the saltiness goes well with a red wine like Château La Garde, Pessac-Léognan red.
Who does the cooking at home?
F.B: My wife does the cooking, unless we have guests, and then I tend to cook.
What are your favourite dishes?
- Beef steak
- Scallop carpaccio
- Ris de veau sweetbreads cooked “plancha” style and served with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoned with 5 peppers.
What is your best cooking memory?
F.B: My greatest memory is a dessert I served at a Masters of Wine* dinner presided by Alexandre De Lur Saluces. I served an apple and pear tagine in citrus fruits paired with our prestigious Sauternes. It’s basically a compote of apples, cinnamon and orange zest, together with a pear compote with lemon juice and liquorice, topped with a “feuille de brick” cone (similar to filo pastry), with 5-spice and dusted with ground almonds.
The feedback from Mr De Lur Saluces was praise indeed and a special moment for me; “finally a chef who understands the structure of my wine!”
Any advice from the chef to finish with?
F.B: If you had to pare it down to one thing, I would say you have to taste many bottles to understand wine. You need to set up a tasting library in order to create great food and wine pairings. A successful meal is the alliance of a good dish and a good wine.
*Master of Wine is one of the highest standards in wine professional knowledge, of which one of the teaching units takes place in the Dourthe Vineyards.