2007 Dinavolo Vino da Tavola
25% Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, 25% Marsanne, 25% Ortugo
Chef Josie Le Balch
What was the turning point that launched you into cooking professionally? I was grounded a lot, so I worked in my dad’s restaurant from like 11 or 12. I’d be in the restaurant doing my homework and get called into the kitchen because the dishwasher or someone didn’t show up. At 13, I probably started sautéing. I remember having to work the weekends because it was a family restaurant.
I was about 17 and a woman who was helping my dad out that afternoon came up and she was so excited to meet me. Now, I wasn’t in a great mood because it was Saturday and I wanted to go out with my friends, and she kind of looked at me and said, ‘you have such an opportunity here. These people are paying to learn from your dad, we’re all here trying to do this and it’s handed to you and you don’t even see it.’ It changed my thinking about what I was doing. I think I was always very lucky because I grew up in the kitchen and had a natural ability, so it was kind of easy for me, but to recognize it and respect it and see the power behind it was enlightening.
How important is it to be connected to local farms? I think it’s extremely important. For me, personally it’s a life blood. Having been involved with the local farmer’s market for so many years, I’m really enjoying seeing that people are still just discovering it — going and finding their own food, making it a social event like it is in Europe. You go to the market once a week and there are baby strollers and you see the same people who you may not even know, but you say hello. That connection, I think for people, to find a product and understand where it comes from is important.
I tell people when I take them to the market to talk to the farmer, ask him what he’s got in the ground for next month so you make the connection with them, talk with them. Don’t be intimidated. For us, it’s a no brainer, it’s just part of the fabric of our cooking.
We’re so spoiled in LA, in California anyway, because when you talk about seasons… we’ve got how many days of sunshine? Things are growing all the time. And it extends beyond produce and across the menu in terms of which farm you buy your meat or fish from.
*See all of Josie Le Balch’s photos, interview, and recipe at Chef’s Insight.
The Wine Expert
This Dish pairs well with the Italian blend 2007 Dinavolo Vino da Tavola. This so called orange wine from northern Italy (it gets its color from extended contact with the grape skins during fermentation) has the full-bodied weight to take this rich dish, but has a fantastic firm edge to cut through the delicious combo of cream, corn and pork.
Alice has been published in most of the glossies in this country as well as the New York Times. Alice is the author of two books The Battle for Wine and Love (Harcourt). Naked Wine (Perseus Books) came out on September 2011. When not on the road learning about wine, Alice working on her personal writing, rereading Letting Go orHudson River Bracketed, and dreaming about a cellar full of Domaine Romanée Conti. You can find Alice on twitter at @alicefeiring, or her blog The Feiring Line.
Chef’s Insight is a raw, behind-the-scenes look at the culinary process and the people behind it. Photographer Bob Hodson shadows the chef—in his or her restaurant, home kitchen, backyard, favorite farmers market, wherever—shooting editorial style and capturing the details and the process… action on the line, scribbled recipes and plating notes, flashes of knife work, the flip of a pan, the beautiful symmetry of the finished mise en place