We found a moment to quiz Matt Abé award-winning Chef de Cuisine at Gordon Ramsay about the inspiration behind the unique menu curated for the recent Chateau Margaux event, the importance wine plays at the restaurant and his close working partnership with Head Sommelier James Lloyd.
What is particular about Bordeaux wines that most affects pairing food with them?
Matt Abé: The wines served on the evening have a very particular style and nuances which have varied characteristics but always finish delicately. This was the challenge to find the balance and to make sure the food didn’t over power the wines.
You have curated a set of new dishes for the event – how did you approach this?
Drinking lots of Chateau Margaux?!
MA: I wish this involved drinking lots of Chateau Margaux, but the ideas were drawn from my past experiences and working closely with James and using his flavor profiles he created for me on each of the wines. Using these to give me points of highlight or contrast in each of the dishes to make a harmonious dining experience.
What is special about the specific menu you created for the event?
MA: This menu was focused around seasonality and the wines flavor profile fitted in with the season well. I found this an exciting experience and allowed me to work with some new ideas and ingredients like the Chinese water deer.
Which wines do you most enjoy out of work?
MA: Originally being from Australia I love a lot of new world wines particularly oaky chardonnays and big bold shiraz.
Where is your favourite place(s) to eat and why?
MA: I love a meal anywhere shared with good company it could be Michelin starred or simply at home.
What is your desert island drink?
MA: An American oaky chardonnay with a little age.
Gordon Ramsay states that you have a great palate – would you say this extends to wine too?
MA: Without a doubt! However compared to James for instance I have a different reference bank and draw flavor memory more from foods and smells, as I have a great sense of smell.
Do you get much of a chance to taste wine at the restaurant?
MA: Absolutely! James and I work closely with the food and wine parings and we are constantly sharing our knowledge and ideas with each other.
How closely do you work with the Sommelier team when curating menus?
MA: I value James opinion highly, with his great palate and flavor understanding. Its an integral relationship for me.
What is your ideal wine and dish pairing?
MA: BBQ cote de bouef, green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette, some new potatoes cooked on the bbq with wild garlic oil served with an aged Australian shiraz from the Barossa.
How do you work with Gordon Ramsay on the menus and dishes?
MA: Having worked with Gordon for 13 years, all of our dishes and menus organically have his influence, but its always great to bounce ideas off him for special events such as this. Wherever he is in the world, we speak or text and this always reflects in the final menu.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
MA: My most rewarding part of my role is developing my team around me both front and back of house. This enables us all to create an ultimate experience for all our guests, which brings us a team a great sense of pride and satisfaction.
Photography courtesy of James Winspear ©