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East Coast Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Alan Tardi has worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

This past fall, Alan Tardi taught his very popular Italian Wine class, The Many Faces of Sangiovese.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi returns for a conversation about his new Champagne, Prosecco and Lambrusco sparkling wine class Beyond Bubbles on December 13 at New York Wine Studio.

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

Alan, thank you so much for coming back. You have a new class called Beyond Bubbles.

Can you just give us an idea of Beyond Bubbles about the class itself?

Alan Tardi:  The class is going to take place on December 13th. That’s a Wednesday from 6 – 7:30pm. And the venue is  the New York Wine Studio located at 126 East 38th Street between Park and Lexington, so a couple blocks away from Grand Central Station in New York City.

It’s going to be called Beyond Bubbles. I’m really focusing on three archetypal sparkling wines. Champagne, Lambrusco, Prosecco.

And I have to say Prosecco from the original growing area, Cornigliano Valdiviadene, not the extended one right now.

These are the sparkling wines that, to me, took their own path and they can, in the case of Lambrusco and Prosecco they’re really ancient grape varieties that have been going on for a very long time. 

Champagne, they’ve been making wine for a very long time. But as we’ll talk about, which is really fascinating, they’re adjacent to Burgundy and they’re both in close proximity to Paris where the King and the royal kingdom was. They were very competitive with their wine.

The counts in Champagne and the Dukes in Burgundy. They were really vying for their wine for the favor of the King. But Champagne, like Burgundy, began making it for a long time, hundreds of years, still wines. And when, and that was what they made for a long time.

 

Pouring sparkling wine

In your class Beyond bubbles, can you give us an idea of how many bottles are going to be tasting from and learning about, and maybe one or two that are extra special to you?

Alan Tardi: We’re going to be tasting 10 wines. Three from Lambrusco, a very misunderstood wine.  The grapes for Lambrusco are wild. Prosecco and Champagne.

The class is Beyond Bubbles. Wednesday, December 13th, tickets are on sale. Now it’s coming up very quickly. 

Let’s really dive deep for a second and just get to know champagne’s history.  The whole idea of sparkling wine was an accident.

 

Alan Tardi: Yes. It was originally considered a flub because they were trying to make still wines to be in competition with Burgundy and they were very good at it. The still wines of Champagne were highly regarded.

So it did happen by accident.  What happened is that Champagne is much further North than Burgundy. It’s at the breaking point beyond 45 degrees North where grapes can’t grow anymore. So they had a hard time making wine.  it got very cold after harvest. One of the big customers for champagne was England and they shipped a lot of wine in barrel to England.

They were put into barrels once the fermentation stopped, because it got very cold and then they would ship them to England eventually in the springtime..

Because they finished their fermentation too early because it got cold, the fermentation stopped. Once it got warm again, the ferment: the remaining sugar went to work on the remaining yeast and it created bubbles in a closed container. 

So when people opened up the barrel, it was fizzy.

When that happened in France, people did not like it because it was considered a flaw. England didn’t have a problem with that. 

Eventually the producers said, wow, these people really want to have the bubbly wine. The King of France became very fond of this wine.  So it really took off from there, but it happened in England first. 

 

Talk a little bit about who “The Father of Champagne” was and how he tried to prevent this from happening.

 

Alan Tardi: It’s a really great story. Dom Perignon is considered to be the father of champagne. He was a chef and while he was a monk, he took over as the steward.

The convent had a lot of land given to them as dues to the church. He was managing the winery there in order to sell wine to support the monastery. 

He would select different grapes from different places. He created fractional blending and fractional pressing of the grape so it’s very gentle and soft, which is very important for the development of champagne. But this was a still wine.

He was trying to make a still wine. When it spontaneously started sparkling, he considered it a flaw.  He tried to avoid it with everything that he could possibly do. 

It became extremely popular.

Dom Perignon champagne

He said, “Brothers, I see stars in my glass.” And he was supposed to be blind by that point. 

This whole thing of Don Perignon being the the father of champagne and seeing stars was made up as a marketing ploy by Robert de la Vogue, who was the head of a major champagne house.  So they created this story around it.  It’s a great story. I love it.

I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why champagne does swell during the holidays. When there’s decorations out and it really is a celebration.

Alan Tardi: I think it is. Sparkling wines bring something with them. There’s this effervescence, It’s like shooting stars. When they’re in the glass and you’re, you put them in your palate and they’re tingling and that’s all good.

Once the sparkling version was approved around 1725 by the King, it expanded throughout the world, it was a worldwide phenomenon.

 

You’ve mentioned the words method and process, share more about traditional champagne method?

Alan Tardi:  It is a very stable process. You have to make a base wine. So you ferment grapes. They started sourcing different grape varieties from different areas throughout the extensive Champagne area. They would blend them together to make a decent wine.  That’s the first fermentation.  

Then they add a liqueur, called the tirage in French, it consists of primarily sugar, could be beet sugar or cane sugar; and yeast. 

They’re put in individual bottles and then the bottle is sealed with a crown cap to keep the wine in the bottle.  They would sit in a cellar for a period of time to create the secondary fermentation in a closed container. Like the initial fermentation process where the sugar goes to the yeast that is added to it. That creates a combination of sugar and yeast creates alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide goes up, the alcohol stays in, and that’s how wine is made. But because [in still wine] it’s in an open container, the carbon dioxide goes out. 

In a closed container [like in sparkling wine], in this case, a bottle, the carbon dioxide that was given off from the second fermentation was trapped inside the bottle. So once you open the bottle, the carbon dioxide would come up and out. And that’s where it comes from. That is what gives it the sparkle. 

In Champagne, their method is known as the Method Champenoise

Pouring sparkling wine at Popular NYC Wine Classes Beyond Bubbles

They carry out the secondary fermentation in a closed bottle. Then, in the third part, they make the method Champenoise. It’s removing the sediment from the wine.  There are many different ways to do it. 

The most important common grapes for sparkling wine are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meurnier, Chardonnay.  But your class reveals “lost grape varieties”.  Tell me more about that.  

Alan Tardi: These were grape varieties, typical of the area, that were used initially, but then people just put them by the side. The most important grape varieties were Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Meunier was used as a workhorse, a filler, but it didn’t have the same identity that that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir had.  Those are the three principal ones. Then [there was] these other varieties.

There’ve been major changes in the past 10 – 15 years in Champagne.  It was driven by the Maison.  Thousands of growers who supplied grapes to the Maison.  Many times they would actually press the grapes, vinify the wine and then send the wine to the Maison.

They produced it for the houses. They didn’t have their own labels.  That changed. A lot of the grower producers started labeling and selling their wine on their own. They got a lot of attention.

Some of these people were very loyal to the old grape varieties that were left on the side – they like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris – not very rare grape varieties, but people are not aware they are part of the grape varieties of Champagne.

Some people are really trying to promote those because it’s part of their culture. It’s part of their history. 

There’s two others, Petit Mellier and Arban. It brings a whole new aspect to Champagne.

So we’re talking with Alan Tardi. On Wednesday, December 13th he hosts his new class Beyond Bubbles.  One of those bubbles we’re going to be talking about is Prosecco. Frizzanti, Spumanti. Help us understand what these words mean, the region, how it all relates 

Alan Tardi: Prosecco is one of the most misunderstood wines out there. There’s a lot more to it than most people are aware of. It’s not just a base for a Bellini or a cocktail, or just a cheap fix. There’s a lot more going on there than often meets the eye.

It’s a very old wine growing area.  The original area is Conigliano Valdobbiadene. Fifiteen towns that make up the area in the hills just at the foot of the Dolomites in Veneto. They’ve been making wine there for a long time.

I have a feeling that the people who originally planted grape vines there were members of this  Celtic Ligurian tribe that were up in Northern Italy, like in the Botellina and over in Liguria. They have this amazing capacity to plant vines in places where it’s very difficult.

Prosecco is very different from Champagne.  I was living in Italy. I was going to Prosecco a lot because I did a story for Wine and Spirits Magazine about the Cartice area in Val di Biadena.

It blew my mind away. At the same time, I was starting to go to Champagne to research my book and I spent a lot of time there. I was finding a lot of similarities between these two very different wines.

Champagne began as a still wine called Coteaux Champenois.  It had another wine in between. A sparkling wine, but a softer, lower amount of pressure called Cremant de Champagne. 

In Prosecco, the traditional way of making wine was fermenting the wine.  Then, they would put it in a container, either a barrel or a cement tank or in a bottle. The same thing happened. The fermentation would stop prematurely because it got too cold. Then, in the spring, when the temperature rose, the wine would wake up and the sugar would go back to work on whatever yeast was left.

Being in a closed container it would be fizzy. Now, in the bottle. The Italians had no problem with the sediment in the bottle. 

I remember going there in 2013, I heard about this kind of Prosecco where the sediment was left in the bottle and people were a little bit embarrassed to show it. 

This is actually called the Method Ancestral like they did in Limu. 

They left the sediment in the bottle. It was just part of the wine. m In 1895, someone at Vinicultural Research Research Center in Asti named Martinotti, figured out they had a lot of sparkling wines in that area like Moscato.

Martinotti invented a system instead of having to do this process in the bottle, he created a large container with a top under pressure where the second fermentation could take place under pressure and then bottle it from there. It’s called the Martinotti Method that he created and patented in 1895. 

Then 15 years later, in France he applied a sterilizing system.  It’s referred to as the Sharma Method. That is the typical Way to make Prosecco not the traditional way.

Most producers in the area did not advance their methods until after World War II happened.

Mionetto, a very big Prosecco producer, only started using autoclaves in 1987. 

At my tasting in New York on December 13, we’re going to taste three Prosecco’s. One is a still version from a winery called Bortolomeo, one of the most significant wineries of the area

After World War Two, he was very instrumental in creating a small group of producers and protecting their tradition of making wine in the area. 

Now their daughters are running the winery. They’re still making a Prosecco. It’s part of the disciplinary of the rules for Prosecco Cornigliano Valdobbiadene

That used to be the same with Coteau Champenois, the still wine of Champagne. You would not find those around. 

While we’re talking about Prosecco, tell us about their growth —  between the DOCG and the DOC?

Alan Tardi: One thing I want to say is that in the very small area of Corneliano, Corneliano about to be out in a Prosecco, DOCG.  In about 2009, because of the large demand for Prosecco, and because of the fact that people were growing grapes and making wine outside 

That appellation covers the entire region of Friuli and three quarters of the region of Veneto. So it’s a huge area, mostly flat. Higher yields, most of the vineyards can be worked, can be harvested mechanically. It’s a very different wine and that accounts for the vast majority of the 500 million bottles that are being produced.

The little area up in the hills has a much more complex growing area, soil to topography. 

It hasn’t really been touched since the earth rose when that, when the sea and the sea receded on the other side of Cornigliano, there was a glacier that happened up in the north and it came down and just took all the land with it.

If you look at the map, the part is very narrow and the Cornelia part spreads down and is very wide and lower altitudes.  So you have two very different soil makeups and different sections within the area.  So it’s much more complex. 

In 2009, they created the DOC and that’s when the original area, called Prosecco, changed its name to Corneliano Valdobbiadene and they were elevated to a higher level, a DOCG category.

They created subzones within this very small area. 43 different areas within the overall territory. If grapes come from one of those areas, they can have the name of that on the label. 

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be tasting the Tranquilo Prosecco from Botolomeo.  We’ll taste a Colfondo from a young guy who’s been carrying on his family’s winery.

He always made wine in the cofondo method, and he just also started using the method traditionnel as well.

We’re going to taste his Cofondo, and then we’re going to taste Prosecco, Brut Nature, no sugar added, from the Cornigliano side, different softer, denser soil, lower altitude.

You can taste the difference.

That sounds incredible. We’re celebrating Beyond Bubbles, Alan Tardi’s new class coming up December 13th. One of the bottles, the Lambrusco. Can you talk a little bit about its reputation? 

 

Alan Tardi: I think we should feel very excited.  In the United States people still think about Lambrusco as a sweet, red, bubbly wine.

Lambrusco has really changed and it’s very complex.  Usually wines don’t do well in flat areas, but in the Po Valley, that’s where they come from, they started out as wild vines.

They were cultivated by this old ancient tribe who lived in the area from about 12 to 6  BC, and then they just disappeared  There are 12 different Lambrusco grapes. Three of them are really the most important because they have their own distinct identity and growing area. 

Sorbara comes from the town of Sorbara, takes its name after it, and it has its own appellation. 

Grasparosa di Casavetro, down in the south, it’s flat, but it starts to go up a little bit into the hills. 

And then Salomino, in the north, which is the powerhouse of the three.

It’s really fascinating.  They’re considered to be the most elegant because they’re all red grapes. In Champagne, it’s mostly white grapes.  in Prosecco, the grapes are also predominantly white. There’s Pinot Noir that was one of these international grapes. It was permitted but only as a 

The Sorbara is very light, transparent, elegant.  There’s a lot of finesse to it.

The Graspa Rosa is dark red, juicy, fruity, floral, intense, foamy.

The Salomino is the workhorse, Sorbata is not self pollinating. And Solomino is often the pollinator for Sorbata.

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be talking about unusual bottles.  Tasting a Salomino wine from a winery called Lini 910,  a wine is made using the method Traditionnelle.  This wine is going to be 2006 vintage, and it’s spent nearly 14 years on the lees.

At our Beyond Bubbles class, I’m going to start with the Lambrusco, the oldest of the wines. Then the Prosecco.  Then the Champagne. So there’s a buildup to that. 

After the champagne, there’ll be a still champagne from the Valley de la Marne from the Mounier grape, and the Philipponat Champagne vintage.

After that, I thought it would be really interesting to look at two wines from made by people who went to the champagne area in the turn of the 20th century and they fell in love with champagne and they were compelled to go back to where they came from and make a wine using the champagne style method in their own way.

A wine from Trentino, Giulio Ferrari.  And the other one is RTOs in in Catalonia in Spain, compare.

Alan Tardi’s class Beyond Bubbles will take place December 13, 2023 at New York Wine Studio.  126 East 38th Street New York, NY 1001. Readily accessible between Park and Lexington Avenue, just minutes from  Grand Central Station.

For tix and more information visit NewYorkWineStudio.com

 

Worth the train ride: New York Wine Studio starts classes this October in NYC, with Wine Expert Alan Tardi

New York Wine Studio starts classes this October in NYC, Wine Expert Alan Tardi reveals why you need to Enroll

He’s worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi visits us for a conversation about NYC, restaurants, Italian wine and his new classes starting this fall (October) at New York Wine Studio.

 

 

As a get to know you question for everyone out there who loves food and wine and spirits, but they don’t necessarily know your background so much.

You’ve been in the wine world, the hospitality world, the restaurant world for many years. Tell us about a celebration in your life that inspired you to join these industries?

 

Alan: Sure. First I should say that, when you introduced me, you said I was a chef and a restaurateur and all that’s true. But before I was a chef, I was a cook. And actually before I was a cook, I was a dishwasher.  I took a little bit of a break from college and went to Europe and traveled around and then came back and wanted to come visit my sister in New York City.

And so I did. And I ended up staying. And at a certain point, I thought okay, I’m going to go back and finish my undergraduate degree, but I also want to get a job. So I walked into a place that could have been a shoe store or whatever. A gas station.  But it happened to be a restaurant. 

One of the new, the first restaurants in this area called Tribeca, when it was just starting to take shape and walked in there and said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a job.’

The person who was in the back that they sent me back to talk to in the kitchen was washing the dishes. And he said, Yeah, I’m the owner. You want to wash dishes? Yeah, sure. 

So I started washing dishes there in this restaurant. And then after a while I would, I became a bus boy on the floor.  Then when I would come into work, oftentimes the kitchen was a little bit behind. So I would help them out. I ended up going to the kitchen while I was going to school at the same time. 

For me, it was a job and while I was going to college in the village after my classes in the evening, I found this tiny little restaurant on Greenwich Avenue in the village called Chez Brigitte.

It was like a counter basically, they had two little tables on the side, but there was a counter there with maybe eight seats. And there was this French woman named Brigitte who was cooking food back there. I started to go there, so I didn’t go home by myself and have supper.

I started to get half bottles of wine from a nearby wine shop and took it to this place, Chez Brigitte. I spoke French. I was talking to the woman cooking there.That was a celebration for me, and I was there all by myself. I would go there after, after my schooling before I went back home.

So that was like a celebration. I would go there two or three times a week. And that was my own sort of really like dining. But it was very casual. It was an open kitchen.  But that was my celebration factor. And then after I finished my degree I thought I’m actually into cooking.

I was cooking in this restaurant in Tribeca. And so I went and knocked on the door of a little restaurant in Soho, which was called Chanterelle. It was a legendary restaurant for about 25 years. And the woman, the manager, the wife of the chef, Karen Weltuck, and David Weltuck was a chef.

She hired me. I was the third person. Before that, there were two people in the kitchen. I became the third person in the kitchen doing Garde Manger. Then after six or nine months, I was promoted to he sous chef. So I went from a Garde Manger to the sous chef in this really legendary restaurant.

So that was my celebration.

 

The fact that you grew up behind the scenes in the back of the house makes me curious.

For a couple – whether it’s a date night, an anniversary or a business dinner,

do you have any tips for how to take that fine dining experience and make it really truly memorable

Alan: First of all, we talk about fine dining. To me, sometimes you have the best experiences in a very simple, very unpretentious place. When I was working at Chanterelle, I was there for a little over three years. Every August, the restaurant would close for the month and most of the staff would go off on a gastronomic tour. 

I went with some of my colleagues to France two years in a row. We would go through all the three star Michelin restaurants. At that time, you had to write a letter in French asking for a reservation at a certain time.

You had to reserve ahead of time because you had three star Michelin restaurants, highly sought after. Three or four days a week we would be eating in these fancy restaurants, sometimes lunch and dinner. It’s crazy. But there would be the down days too, right?

When you’re just traveling somewhere, you’re going to a different part. Some of these meals were amazing, that it was a whole new world for me. You get the menu, all the service and the cheese and the wines and everything. It was a great experience.

On the off days, you would just find a place to eat. And sometimes we would go to a little aubergine. I remember one in Normandy, walking into this place. It was just a few doors down from where we were staying overnight, waiting for our next kind of big meal. We went to this little aubergine and they had the most banal dish, trout almondine, right?

Trout almondine. It was in Normandy, however.  There were women in the kitchen, not men, and usually in these three star restaurants, it was all male at that point. 

I realized that some of those down meal nights and simple places, they had no stars at all. You had amazing food.

The meals were on the same par as some of the best three Michelin restaurants I had. So that was an important distinction for me to make. When you’re talking about how to really create – whether it’s in a very simple environment or kind of more fancy –  how to really make it special. I think it has genuinity.

Just being what you are and trying to take care of your guests as best as you possibly can. That can really make it very special. You need to have good food, you need to have good wine, you need to have good service. All of those factors play in. But the most important thing is really trying to take care of your customer.

And I think you can do the same thing at home, your customers, whoever’s coming to your home and you’re going to offer them something and you want to try to make it as special as you can, even if it’s just hamburgers, but that can be really great and memorable.

 

We’re going to stick with the restaurant for a second, but move toward the wine list.

What are some tips for someone who wants to have a nice bottle out at dinner and they just don’t even know where to start?

 

Alan: That’s a great question. When I had my restaurant I decided to take a certain approach to the wine program, which was to find the best regional wines that would really best accompany the food.

Many of them were wines that people were unfamiliar with, they were just not among the top 10 that people would go to automatically. This is some years ago when a lot of the wine lists in the restaurant were the most famous ones you see all over the place because people are comfortable with that. So sometimes it threw people off and they would ask questions. What is that? Don’t you have this other one that’s very popular and all over the place? 

No, but we have this and – we didn’t always say this – but it’s actually much better and it costs less.

So people would try it.  They would take a leap of faith and for the most part they always loved the wines, and they went very well with their food.  Not only was I the chef and the owner but I was also the sommelier as well. 

We tried to train the staff very well about the wines and inform them. We had monthly tastings with them so they could taste the wines.

If people were really interested, I would come out of the kitchen and explain, make a suggestion based on what they said they liked. Sometimes it’s very difficult for people to explain what they want, so you have to read into that a little bit, but it’s something that really worked.

 

I know you love Italian wine, you’re an expert in Italian wine. Are there some Italian wine regions that deserve more attention?

 

Alan: Absolutely. I love wine from all over the place. Initially I spent time in France, delving into the wine regions there and they’re amazing and superb. When I was working at Chanterelle after the two first years going to France and the three Michelin restaurants, the third year I said maybe I’ll go to Italy and just try that out.

When I actually went there, it totally blew my mind. We rented a little house outside of Siena and explored the area. We went to a fantastic restaurant and it’s still in existence, La Chiusa, in a tiny little village called Montefollonico.

That really blew my mind completely. Because it was in an old olive oil mill, outside of this tiny little village up in the hills. The food was both very traditional and also very kind of cutting edge. They were trying to expand a little bit, but there was a really great balance of that. I actually went back there to do a stage, a summer stage working in the kitchen.

What really blew my mind was the fact that everything there was local. It was right, very close to Montepulciano and I would go walk in the vineyards.  A lot of the food they got was made from grapes in the vineyards outside the restaurant. And the cheese was the pecorino.

The cheeses in Tuscany were made locally and everything was from that particular area. This was long before farm to table. 

So it was a tremendous experience and that was just the beginning because Italy has 20 different regions, each one of them very different.

We think of Italy’s being old, the ancient Romans and the Etruscans. That’s true. But Italy is a country just a little bit more than a hundred years old. 150 years old. It was formed in 1861 bringing together the Italy that was once where it was fragmented after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Up until that point, you had all these different city states that had their own language, their own identity, their own cuisine, their own architecture. And while it’s been now collected into one country, each region is very independent and different from one another.

It’s changing a little bit now.  At one point the dialects were very strong. When I moved to Piemonte. In the village where I lived for over 12 years, when I moved there in 2003, most of the people – who are over 50 years old, spoke Piedmontese as their first language. They had gone to school, so they learned Italian, but they spoke Piedmontese whenever they could.

In Italy there’s an incredible diversity of different places within the country. And it goes into the wine. The wines are very different. The grape variety, there are more grape varieties in Italy than most any other place. 

 

I appreciate how you fit all these areas together: the wine, the food, the identity of the people themselves. When people Google you, they can find a lot.  Your videos, your books, your webinars.

What do you think is a  tip to being a great speaker when it comes to food, wine, travel, these types of genres?

 

Alan: I feel like I’m very humble, especially when you’re talking about wine, there’s always something new to learn and it never really stops. So I’m learning too, as I go along..

I approach it as I want to learn about something myself. Then I want to explain it and talk about it to other people and fill them in on it as well, because it’s exciting for me it might be also interesting and exciting for other people. 

The other thing is really trying to share that information in a meaningful way. I’m not trying to be an expert. I just want to share that excitement that I’ve felt myself.

Tell me how your background and the learning we’re talking about informed your  decision to launch the New York Wine studio?

Alan: As you alluded to, I’ve been teaching for quite a while. All these things just happened almost organically. I didn’t say I’m going to become a restaurateur or a chef. I just started. From there, I really got interested in wine because there’s a very strong correlation between wine and food.

I got really interested in wine.  I was doing a lot of panel tasting with Wine and Spirits magazine, whose office was very close to my restaurant. Josh Green, the editor there and a friend of mine for quite a while.  At one point he said, Hey, do you want to write an article? I said, sure. So I started writing for them a lot and it just went into other venues as well. 

Teaching is the same thing. I started giving presentations at wine conferences like Society of Wine Educators annual conference  I started teaching around 2015 for the Wine Scholar Guild. I was teaching for about six years.

I’ve been doing it in many different forms. Italian Wine Scholar. French Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar as well.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea to offer this program, the IWS, Italian Wine Scholar program, in New York City. No one is doing it here. Why? Why is that? So rather than doing it online, I thought it would be really great to do it in person. Where you can actually interact with the students that are there rather than just having them in the background on a computer from many different places in the world.

So I wanted to offer that along with wine because that’s a very important component. Obviously, if you’re talking about wine and explaining different Appalachians and different growing areas and different winemaking traditions, it’s good to be tasting the wines while you’re learning about that.

I came across a place that was willing to host these presentations, a beautiful wine tasting area, right in midtown Manhattan, close to Grand Central.

In addition to the Italian Wine Scholar Program, to start things up, do four individual classes that are theme oriented.

Is it fall and spring, or what’s the schedule?

 

Alan:  Right now we’re going to be starting this fall beginning in October,  I want to ease into it. I’m not loading up an entire schedule of things, but I’m going to be offering part one of the Italian Wine Scholar program, because There are two parts to this certification program.

The first part of the Italian Wine Scholar program will be this fall. Six 3-hour sessions live in-person with wine once a week during October and November.

Then to add something else, in the evenings, we’ll be doing four courses.  One in October, two in November, and one in December.  Two hour courses with wine, as well, and they’re not regionally driven, they’re thematically driven.

The first theme class is going to be: the many faces of Sangiovese because Sangiovese is a grape variety, Italy’s most widely planted grape variety, and of course it’s very closely tied to Tuscany, where there are at least five major appalachians that really focus on that grape variety.So we’ll be showcasing 10 different San Gervasio based wines. Five of them from Tuscany and then other San Gervasio based wines from other regions that, that really featured that like Umbria and Marche and even up in the north, Romagna, which is part of the Emilia Romagna region.  Emilia and Romagna are completely different places.

There will also be individual classes on volcanic wines, Appassimento wines, which are wines that are made from grapes that have undergone this drying process. 

Then also sparkling wines, which I’m a big fan of.  My second book was about champagne and I’m really deeply into champagne.  It’s going to involve sparkling wines from three different countries.

It sounds like this might be the most in-depth Italian class you can find in Manhattan.

 

Alan: To be careful, I would say it is “one of”, the most comprehensive program in Italian wine anywhere.

This program has not, has never been offered in New York City. It’s kind of a first time for that. It’s very comprehensive. It covers all 20 regions, all of the significant Appalachians and there are many of them.

All of the significant diverse grape varieties and I say significant because it might even be a little bit more now in the Italian National Register of Grape Varieties. Many people think that there are more than 2,000 different grape varieties. They just haven’t been genetically defined before.

Because it’s so deep with knowledge, it’s great for trade. New York City is a huge foodie and restaurant dining scene.

Alan: If you want to have all these post nominal certifications, that’s good. Nothing wrong with that. The most important thing, however, of course is knowledge and understanding. that you can use if you’re in the trade.

The understanding, the awareness of wine that you can then transmit to your customers in a restaurant or to your customers in a wine shop where you’re selling to.

It’s a very comprehensive program, but you don’t have to be in the trade to do it.  There are a lot of people who are just really fascinated and interested in wine. This is certainly a great comprehensive program for people who just are really fascinated by Italian wine and they want to learn more about it.

What are the goals for the New York Wine Studio? What’s the future for you? What’s the future for the studio itself?

 

Alan: For me, it’s this and I’m very excited about it. I like this sort of counterpoint between the really focused credential certification course with an exam at the end, and then the other ones that are more mixing it up and comparing /  contrasting these different wine regions.

Next spring I plan to do Italian Wine Scholar Part Two. There’s also an introductory course, used to be called Italian Prep, now I think it’s called Italian Essentials. It is for people who aren’t ready to jump into a whole certification program with all that detail, but it’s an introduction to Italian wine.

I would also love to do the French Wine Scholar, along with some additional classes in the evening.

Tell us where we can find more.  Websites?  Social Media?

 

Alan: Check out the website www.NewYorkWineStudio.com. It talks about the programs, the IWS program with the schedule mapped out and the four individual classes. 

There’s also an email there, info@NewYorkWineStudio.

 

Manhattan NYC’s La Grande Boucherie Chef Maxime Kien Reveals inspiration from Past Generations of Chefs

Manhattan NYC’s La Grande Boucherie Chef Maxime Kien Reveals inspiration from Past Generations of Chefs

 

Chef Maxime Kien is the new Executive Chef of NYC’s The Group, responsible for La Grande Boucherie, Boucherie Union Square, Boucherie West Village, Petite Boucherie and more.  And by the end of 2023, they’re launching even more restaurants throughout the United States..  

 

But today’s conversation is about how the past has inspired Chef Maxime Kien’s work.

 

Chef Maxime Kien has over twenty years of fine dining experience but it all started as a young boy growing up in his family’s kitchens.

 

 

You grew up in kitchens.  Your grandparents loved to cook and your father was a chef.  How did these experiences inspire you?

 

Well, my Dad was a professional Chef in the South of France.  In Monaco, all my grandparents, both my grandmothers and my grandfathers were great cooks. One of my great-grandfathers was a professional cook in Paris at an open air market that was very famous in the early 1900s. There was a very famous French brasserie opened over there and the story behind that is that the gentleman that opened that place wanted to have a place where all the chefs [that worked there] could meet because there was the open air market that was right next to it. 

 

So you had a mix of late night partiers that would go out and party and wanted a place to be able to go eat and drink all night long.  Now you had a place for that.

 

All the people that worked until late at night wanted a place where they could go and eat something before they went home. And Chefs that had to go to the market very early, at four o’clock in the morning to pick up that day’s poultry, rabbits, quails and all the fresh fish coming from Britain on a daily routine. They would do that at four o’clock in the morning and afterwards they needed a place to go for breakfast. 

 

It was open 24 hours a day. It was always a mix of people from show business, like singers and actors.

 

You would have Mick Jagger sitting at the bar. Next to him would be a Chef.  Next to the Chef would be a 14 year old boy having an omelet for breakfast with a glass of red wine at six o’clock in the morning. So it’s always been a mix of everything. 

 

Unfortunately, my Dad passed away when I was really young. I was six. But I guess I was drawn to cooking and that lifestyle.  It’s chaotic. When you’re working in a kitchen, you never know what time you’ll get done. It might be quiet and you get home at night by 10 o’clock. 

 

If you start to get busy, you might not be done until two o’clock in the morning. So it’s a mix of adrenaline and being busy and it’s tough and it’s grueling and it’s rewarding and it’s a mix of everything

 

How did growing up in kitchens with your family inspire you to run your own kitchen?

 

Every chef is different. The way I run my kitchen is different from the way that other chefs I’ve worked with run theirs. It’s like a recipe. Everyone can interpret it differently.  You take bits and pieces from a recipe to take the same dish and make it your own. 

 

Someone’s management style is the same way. I’ve worked for some chefs who were very good at managing people, but in the kitchen they were not as great. And some of them were geniuses at creating dishes, but they were not the best at managing people. So you have to create your own style.

 

 

 

You graduated culinary school when you were very young.  Would you still recommend school or encourage new chefs to learn hands-on in a kitchen?

 

The hard part about school versus hands-on is being able to understand exactly what [a new chef] is trying to achieve. Meaning that when I went to culinary school back in the 1980s, you wanted to graduate and get a diploma. After that, you wanted to be able to get your foot inside the door of a three Michelin star restaurant, a very famous place because you knew the chef was someone you were gonna be able to learn from. 

 

And that [experience] was gonna take you to the next chef, that was gonna take you to the next chef, and so on.  Because it’s a close-knit community, like a family. All the big chefs know each other. So when you’re ready to make your next move, the Chef [at your current kitchen] would come and ask, ‘Where do you want to go next?’  He’ll make a call and help you get that next job.

 

Now, unfortunately, the way some TV cooking shows happen, they give a vision of what it is to be a chef that is completely different from the truth. 

 

So now you have cooks that go to very famous, very expensive culinary schools and they spend a huge amount of money to graduate. Then after two years of education, they expect to find a position of Executive Chef, making six figures and wearing Egyptian cotton jackets with their name on them.

 

But they don’t have the basics.  They’re trying to run before they can walk. The biggest difference with my generation is, we went through all the processes, we didn’t try to rush the steps before you actually tried to be a chef. 

 

You had to be a good line cook before you tried to become Chef de Partie and then [become] a good Chef de Partie before you become a Sous Chef, and then [become] a good Sous Chef, before you become an executive chef. So that’s the main difference.

 

Almost like an army style, you have to graduate through the ranks.

 

New chefs try to go too fast. Take your time. Find a chef you can learn from.  New York is very lucky for that because you’ve got so many great chefs. 

 

Daniel Boulud and all these great chefs brought the New York Culinary to the next level.  Daniel Boulud has been here for 30 years now. 

 

So go work for them, write everything down, taste everything, take pictures!

 

When I started, we didn’t have cell phones to take pictures, so it was whatever you could remember and whatever you could write down. Now we’ve reached a point where you can take a video of a chef doing a dish and afterwards you can write down notes. 

 

I would say the biggest advice to the cooks right now: find a chef, find your niche, go work for him for two years, three years, four years. Write everything down, taste everything, ask questions, and then learn as much as you can. 

 

Don’t think about being called “Chef” right away. Don’t think about making a ton of money. Learn as much as you can then, then after that, start to think about your next step.  But take your time.

 

If you have the financial ability to be able to afford culinary school, do it, but it can be pricey. You don’t need to go to a very expensive, very famous one; but go to get some good basic training in a culinary school. 

 

Then after that, go see a chef and say, “I just want to learn. I want to work for you. You’re the best in the business in your town.” It can be in New York.  It can also be in Chicago or anywhere else. Just say, “I want to learn. I want to work for you.”

 

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