WACS Conference 2012 - Day 5
Thursday had been my slowest day yet. As previously mentioned, I was able to sleep in, so by 9 am, I went down for breaksat and then off to write my Wednesday blog. By the time I had finished it was time to grab a cab for the Convention Centre for lunch with some new friends.
The afternoon was spent watching a cooking demonstration of Korean fusion cusine by a celebrity chef Edward Hwon who studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. Modern fusion is still a new concept here in Korea but the interest is very evident during this conference. We were then introduced to some wonderful Korean dancing and drum spectacle
We then headed off to our evening dinner, back at the Daejeon Convention Centre for a superb Korean extravaganza.
But before I leave you for the day, I wanted to share that Canada won Gold in Category “R” team. During Tuesday and Wednesday 10 country teams competed and it was sch a great pleasure to hear from the Canada Junior Team manager that Canada had won Gold. When talking to one judge, he had asked if the dishes served from Canada were from the senior team and when JC(team manager) mentioned Junior, the judge was speechless and could not believe it. I have to say that troughout these competitions Juniors often outperformed the Seniors. Even today one judge complemented the Korean Junior team when they strongly outshined the own Senior team in the Plated Dessert category.
So congratulations to all juniors from everywhere who want to strive to be better and demand the best from themselves!
As for Friday, my big day, I will be involved with The Global Chefs Challenge. I previously mentioned my involevement and role for this most prestigious competition. The GCC is something new for WACS(only the 3rd time) as the Wine & Food Pairing (only the 2nd time).
But I wanted to briefly introduce the 7 contestants that will be competing for the top title as “Best Chef in the World”
Representing Asia is Leung Chi Hasng, Sous-Chef Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel
Representing both Americas is Canadian chef Tobias MacDonald, executive chef of La Belle Auberge Resturant, Delta, BC
Representing the Pacific is Francky Godinho, Executive Chef at the Te Awa Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Representing Central Europe is Guido Panjer, Chef instructor and member of the Dutch National Culinary Team
Representing UAE is Daniel Edward, Speciality Sous-Chef at the Address Downtown Dubai, Dubai
Representing Europe-South is Italian chef Angelo Giovanni Di Lena, chef at the Grand Hotel Cesenatico
Representing Europe-North is Geir Magnus Svae, Head Chef at Tyrifjord Hotel, Vijersund, Norway
All these talented chefs represent the best the world has to offer. However only 1 will be crowned as Top Chef. The winner of the category “Best Wine & Food Pairing” will be announced by yours truely at the Saturday Night Gala, which they tell me might be televised nationally (I promise to be on my best behaviour) where I will present a bottle of Paradise Ranch Riesling Icewine to the winner which I specifically brought for this event.
WACS Conference 2012 - Day 6
Friday was an actual very busy day full of scheduled educational and informative events, but I was soley concentrated on a very specific one: The Global Chefs Challenge. Crowning the Top Chef in the World came down to 7 final contestants which I mentioned in yesterday’s blog.
I arrived at the Challenge quite early to make sure I had what I needed at my wine judging table: wine, glasses, spitoons for two as WACS had chosen a chef who loved wine as my second. When Gissur (president of WACS) told me that I would certain need a second, Rick provided me with Settimio Sicoli, a Canadian chef who is the Associate Department Head at the Vancouver Community College Culinary Arts Department. And here I was concerned about WACS having a problem with myself being a Canadian and Tobias (from Canada) being a finalist. By 11:00 I finally received the wine list from all 7 finalists and I had time to get a first view and appreciation of the wines selected for each dish from each contestant.
At 12:00 the Challenge started. How this worked was that Team 1 (in this case Canada) would start with the Appetizer (mushroom as the main ingredient) and then every other appetizer would follow at 5 minutes interval. Which meant that the Entrée (halibut) would arrive after 35 minutes form the beginning, with the Main (wagyu beef) after 70 minutes and Dessert (strawberry) at 105 minutes from the start of the Challenge. So 140minutes from start to finish.
The rules also indicated that if a team missed delivery of a course (i.e. appetizer) in the appropriate time (5 minutes + 1 minute) they would be put in the back of the line for pick-up, which meant that their dish would need to sit (not re-touched or re-heated) until all the appetizers would be delivered to the judges. Luckily no team lagged behind or were penalized.
Tasting and judging in 5 minutes is quite tough but for us wine judges is it was gruesome. I really never had the time to fully savour the complexities of each dish. The visual was absolutely amazing but from a wine & food pairing perspective it was very demanding. Most dishes were multi dimensional with several sauces, several vegetables and often the main ingredient prepared in several ways. At one point it took me just 2 minutes to decide which ingredient I should have with which sauce to go with the selected wine. At other times, I thought that mixing everything on my fork would prove more advantageous. Luckily my experience with international wine judging helped me with the quick pace.
I will go into much more detail of each individual dish, next Monday when I return from Daejeon.
To summerize, the 28 dishes that we tasted were all of spectacular beauty but when I chatted with a food judge, he mentioned that the concept of “More is Less” is often lost on the younger generation of chefs. However let us not forget the purpose of this competition: to showcase the talent and creativity of each finalist. With regards to wine and food pairing, more can be a detrement, confusing the taster as he/she often does not know how to combine the food flavours with the wine or creating some very different flavours. As an example, while everyone had to use wagyu beef and tenderloin was the most common cut, there were some who created a brisket. Now whomever paired with the 2008 Montgras Antu Ninquen Cabernet Sauvignon was quite successful with the tenderloin (tannins had already softened with a bit of age) but when paired with brisket, the result gave a very negative impression. The wine dried the brisket and now the very dried brisket made the tenderloin seemed tough when you tasted the two together.
While many chefs have an appreciation of wine, there are not many who actually understand the complexities of balacing wine with food. So when I discovered two dishes that, while they were spectacular on their own merit, got so much better with the appropriate wine I was excited. I am always so thrilled when I find that I can be wowed. This means that there is always room for learning.
The first was Canadian Tobias MacDonald’s main. His components consisted of 2 main beef items. The first a AACO Wagyu brisket, the second a Wagyu sirloin. As sides on the plate were: seared Canadain foie gras, mainland paremesan pomme au gratin and yam with dried brisket, cabbage puree, fiddlehead, golden beet and salsify. We often talk about how the sum is so much better than the individual parts. This was so true for this dish. And then to complement this with the 2009 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz was, what we at Vines would label as “honking delicious”. I told Tobias that he will need to come to Edmonton and cook.(He agreed). This was my favourite "main" of the Challenge.
The other was a dessert created by Geir Magnus Svae of Norway whose “Strawberry Solfrid” (white chocolate with strawberry coulis, strawberry and champagne coulis, pistacchio puree sour cream with black pepper, doughnut with mom’s stirred strawberries and yougurt ice cream) was totally enhanced by the wine selected. Geir was the only one not to choose a dessert wine for their dessert. On paper, the 2008 Dr. Loosen Ederner Treppchen Riesling Kabinett was a risky choice, but when I tasted the match, my eyes lit up and the beauty of the strawberry dessert just bloosomed into something close to perfection. My collegue slightly disagreed, he giving 24/25 and I giving it 25/25.
Before we knew it, the Challenge was over and we had to give in our notes & marks for the official judge to tabulate as the winner of both categories will be announced on Saturday evening at the President’s Gala Awards.
Then back to the hotel for a quick shower before shooting off to a reception organized by the Mayor of Daejeon at the Expo Park. Typical governement sponsored event. Some political speeches and city hall bureaucrats we recognize the world over.
WACS Conference 2012 - Day 7
Saturday was my last day at the Congress begining with my presentation of “The Joy of Pairing: Evolution & Revolution”. In front of 60 young chefs, we interacted and chatted about how to view wine with food, how wine can enhance food and the basic guidelines of wine and food pairing in today's world from classical cuisne to the most modern molecular gastronomy. Talked for 90 minutes and Andy Cuthbert, Chair of the Young Chefs indicated that as this is such an important topic to discuss, we can hopefully create a workshop at the next Congress which will be held in Norway. Had loads of fun and I could see the enthousiasm from many to learn more.
At noon we had lunch and then each country member president voted to see where the 2016 Congress will be held. The choices were three: Greece, Turkey or South Africa. The first round did not get the 50% required, so the lowest (Turkey) was eliminated. The Winner: Greece. The president of the Greece Chefs Association got up to say that we all will be astounded by what Greece will do for WACS. I just hope that by 2016, the economy will be so much better.
WACS Conference 2012 - Global Chefs Challenge
As previously promised here is my “compte rendu” of the incredible Global Chefs Challenge that occurred on Friday, May 04, 2012. I have already chatted about how the Challenge occurred in my last blog. This time I would like to offer you the dishes that each finalist prepared for the judges. As the principal wine & food pairing judge I had the opportunity to sample all 28 dishes as well as their wine matches for each dish.
All finalists were obliged to use the same main ingredients. Starter: Mushrooms; Fish: Sterling white halibut; Main: Wagyu beef; Dessert: Strawberries
And here again is the list of wines that all finalists had to choose from to match each of their dishes.
2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc-Marlborough NZ
2009 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay – Napa Valley-California
2011 Dr. Loosen Ederner Treppchen Riesling Kabinett – Mosel-Germany
2010 Chapoutier Tavel Rose – Rhone-France
2009 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages – Beaujolais-France
2008 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir – Burgundy-France
2008 Montgras Antu Ninquen Cabernet Sauvignon- Colchagua-Chile
2009 Two Hands “Gnarly Dudes” Shiraz – Barossa Valley-Australia
2008 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora – Victoria-Australia
2008 Ginestet Sauternes – Sauternes-France
So here goes:
TEAM 1 – CANADA- Chef Tobias MacDonald (representing the Americas)
Starter: Bluefoot, morel and hedgehog salad roll; green curry anchor cream; peanut, lime and cucumber garnish; chimichurri spring salad, yuzi basil seed vinaigrette (selected wine: 2008 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir)
Fish: Sterling white halibut, lobster blanket; halibut and spinach mousse tile, coconut mayonnaise; lobster sphere, carrot wasabi pea puree; heart of palm, carrot, pickled ramps; squid ink puffs (selected wine: 2009 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett)
Main: AACO Kobe master brisket with sweetbreads wrapped in bacon; Kobe sirloin, olive crust; seared Canadian foie gras, natural jus; mainland parmesan pomme au gratin; yam with dried brisket, cabbage puree, fiddlehead, golden beet and salsify (selected wine: 2009 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz)
Dessert: White chocolate globe, golden leaf; korean strawberries, vanilla pastry cream, almond cake and lemon curd; berry gelee with green almond; strawberry cheesecake ice-cream, caramelized white chocolate and cocoa nib; kalamansi strawberry explosion (selected wine: 2008 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora)
TEAM 2: Norway – Chef Geir Magnus Svae (representing Europe-North)
Starter: Tarte filled with mushrooms, espuma on ceps mushrooms and “Snofrisk” cream cheese marinated Shi-me-gii, mushrooms chips, quail egg cranberry crumble and radish (selected wine: 2010 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages)
Fish: Milk salted poached Sterling white halibut, crispy halibut with scallop and fennel; Jerusalem artichokes royal, artichoke, pickled cucumber, petit pois, cauliflower, applesauce (selected wine: 2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc)
Main: Pepperfried Wagyu sirloin with smoked “Kviteseid” butter; brisket with beer, onion and horseradish; potato, carrot and sweetbread; parsley root puree, beetroot; book beer sauce (selected wine: 2008 Montgras Ninquen Antu Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dessert: white chocolate cream with strawberry copulis; strawberry and champagne jelly; pistachio puree, sour cream with black pepper; doughnut with mom’s stirred strawberries and yogurt ice cream (selected wine:2009 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett)
TEAM 3: UAE (United Arab Emirates) – Chef Daniel Edward
Starter: Mushroom brûlée, formulated tomato, balsamic reduction (selected wine: 2010 Chapoutier Tavel Rose)
Fish: Oven baked halibut; slow cooked halibut, pea puree; yuzu emulsion (selected wine: 2009 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett)
Main: Pan seared Wagyu sirloin; braised Waygu brisket, sous vide sirloin bresaola; stuffed patato, corn essence, glazed green beans and carrots, roasted garlic sauce. (selected wine: 2008 Montgras Ninquen Antu Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dessert: Strawberry roulade; jelly; mousse; sorbet (selected wine: 2008 Ginestet Sauternes)
TEAM 4: Hong Kong- Chef Leung Chi Hang (representing Asia)
Starter: mushroom, Savoy cabbage and avocado terrine; lemon coulis (selected wine: 2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc)
Fish: Confit halibut Fillet crusted with almond; ratatouille and saffron crabmeat ravioli on crab roe cream sauce (selected wine: 2009 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay)
Main: Roasted Wagyu sirloin wit Parma ham and poached wagyu brisket with sautéed spring vegetables, pumpkin potato puree and rosemary balsamic sauce (selected wine: 2009 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz)
Dessert: Strawberry combination: strawberry chocolate cream; warm chocolate cheesecake; strawberry parfait (selected wine: 2008 Ginestet Sauternes)
TEAM 5: New Zealand – Chef Francky Godinho (representing Pacific)
Starter: Mixed mushroom cappuccino with mushroom salad and gooseberry dressing served on porcini mushroom toast and beetroot reduction (selected wine: 2008 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir)
Fish: Sterling white halibut fillet topped with crayfish mousse on a ragout of beans; poached halibut and crayfish in clear tomato jelly, mandarin puree, Furikake crumbled quail egg, cucumber, asparagus and shellfish bisque (selected wine: 2009 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay)
Main: Pan roasted “Darling Downs Wagyu” strip loin, braised ox tongue and beef brisket pudding, beef goulash with sour cream, kumara puree, buttered organic vegetables, finished with a rich beef jus (selected wine: 2009 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz)
Dessert: Sugar sphere filled with korean strawberries and rosewater sorbet, terrine of white chocolate and mascarpone mousse centred with strawberry jelly, a tian of strawberries and chocolate topped with ganache and a pistachio tuile (selected wine: 2008 Ginestet Sauternes)
TEAM 6: Italy – Chef Angelo Giovanni di Lena (representing Europe-South)
Starter: Royal of ricotta with mushrooms composition and rocket (rucola) puree and crispy red beet.(selected wine: 2009 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett)
Fish: Halibut fillet with tomato cover, black olive sauce and stuffed shrimped with saffron and red caramelized shallots (selected wine: 2010 Chapoutier Tavel Rose)
Main: Variation of kobe (sirloin & brisket) with truffle sauce (selected wine: 2008 Montgras Ninquen Antu Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dessert: Mousse with strawberries and cream with chocolate ganache vanilla, fresh berries and coconut strawberry sorbet (selected wine: 2008 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora)
TEAM 7: Netherlands – Chef Guido Panjer (representing Europe-Central)
Starter: Pate of cepes and leeks, served with a role of bolet and hazelnut; cake of olives and parmesan cheese, sweet & sour baby paksoy and cream of black truffle (selected wine: 2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc)
Fish: terrine of halibut, lobster and carrot served with halibut etuvee (quick braising), couscous and cream of cauliflower, soybean and hollandaise sauce (selected wine: 2009 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay)
Main: Wagyu sirloin, Wagyu brisket with Dutch apple syrup, roast red onion, eggplant, beetroot, potato pin and sauce bordelaise (selected wine: 2008 Montgras Ninquen Antu Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dessert: Strawberry mousse with macaroons, creme suisse, strawberry yogurt ice cream (selected wine: 2008 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora)
As you can all imagine, all 28 dishes were scrumptious but only one chef would be crowned “the World’s Best” at the Saturday night evening President’s Gala dinner. But before honouring the title of 1st place, I had to get up on the podium to announce the winner of the “Best Wine Match” competition.
And it was my pleasure to announce that Tobias MacDonald of Canada was the winner. His points you ask? 185/200 and the closest was Norway with 178.5/200. And of course he had a smile when I offered him a bottle of Paradise Ranch Riesling Icewine as a congratulatory prize (as if he had never had it before).
As the final hour approached I had already rated all the finalists. My top 3 choices were Netherlands(in 3rd) and then either Canada or Norway battling it for the top place. I had difficulty choosing for both had great possibilities. So it was a bit of a disappointment when they announced:
3rd PLACE: CANADA
2nd PLACE: UAE (I had put UAE in 4th place)
1st PLACE: NORWAY
I congratulated Tobias of getting 3rd in the world (no mean feat) but I could tell he was disappointed as he was hoping for the grand prize and then went over to congratulate Geir on a very wonderful accomplishment. Just before all 7 finalists went on stage I had offered Geir my second bottle of Paradise Ranch Riesling Icewine as I had rated his dessert wine match the best of the competition.
With the end of the evening, we all drifted back to our hotels where we took some time to say our goodbyes to old and new friends. WACS 2012 will be a memorable experience thus allowing this sommelier to continuously realize how wonderful, tasty and delicious the world of wine and food can be.
To all the chefs the world over and to WACS, THANK YOU!!