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Melody Johnston
 
November 1, 2014 | Food & Friends | Melody Johnston

How about some dinner with your wine?

“A little splash of the wine you are drinking can’t hurt the sauce you are making,” says Chef Christo, executive chef for New York’s Showstoppers Catering.  We agree…after all, it’s pretty common practice at Middle Ridge headquarters to add a little "sauce” to whatever is brewing on the kitchen stove. If it’s midnight, you just might find Winemaker Chris cooking up some wine-glazed chicken as one of his infamous midnight snacks – and he often uses whatever open wine is in hand.

When it comes to cooking for his glamorous clientele, Chef Christo takes this approach a step further.  He only cooks with the wine that he’s serving later with that particular meal.  “Otherwise, it introduces too many different tastes.  And if they picked that wine for their dinner, then I know they like it.  So why use anything else?”  

And how does Chef Christo select the perfect wine to pair with his gourmet recipes?  He actually figures out what food to serve after his client has picked the wine.  “The food can be adapted to the wine – the wine can’t be adapted to the food.   When I’m putting together a pairing, I taste the wine first and whatever little nuances or even bold flavors come out at me, then I start to think about balanced contrasts and accent points to bring out the flavor even more. So, if I taste oak and apple in a wine that a client likes – then I can pick food that goes with that wine. If a client does the opposite and tells me, ‘I want your Moroccan Grilled Salmon; find us wine to go with that,’ it’s a lot more difficult because wine preferences are so subjective. “

When Winemaker Chris sent over his bottled cocktail The Mule for Christo to try, the chef’s creative mind started working right away on the perfect recipe to go with it.  After sipping on it a while, he came up with delicious ORANGE SUPREME CHICKEN which is easy to cook for a family dinner, yet it’s dressed up  just in case company stops by.  “This dish pairs beautifully with The Mule since it plays off nicely with the thyme orange glaze and the soft unctuousness of the roast chicken.  The spicy bite of the arugula complements The Mule’s subtle carbonation.”   

Chef’s wine recommendation: Cocktails Sur Lie, The Mule

You can find “Chef Christo Gonzales” on Facebook or enjoy his blog – Chez What?

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