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July_Aug UK Chef

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Mixologists including

Mixologists including Pedro Paulo from London’s One Aldwych hotel and top gourmet producers from caviar, cheese, meats to fine table and Port wines and you had quite a showcase at the sizzling Kitchen Party! But it’s not all fun in the sun for these Chefs: as well as the challenge of working with unfamiliar local produce, kitchens, mis en place and with limited support staff, each Chef’s chosen menu at their individual gourmet dinners must be paired with wines from selected top international producers. Fine Wines - a perfect pairing? “Well that threw a spanner in the works!” says Chef Allan. There I was, menu all sorted, excited to feature fresh seasonal greens and delicate flavours of spring - and then boom! We were told we would be paired with some pretty punchy Nappa Valley wines. Well, with the help of my sommelier at the restaurants we changed the menu radically, to better fit the wines.” An excellent pairing it proved to me: the robust profiles of the boutique winery Realm Cellars were reflected in Chef Allan’s menu, rich with deeply flavoured dishes such as Dry aged Duck, Chanterelle mushrooms and apricots and the umami heavy beef crusted in aged Comte cheese, green asparagus and bone marrow. A highlight was the ‘Eggs on Eggs on Eggs’ a signature 44 dish that also included caviar as one element in the egg trilogy. Equally well matched to this four-hand Gala dinner I attended was the setting, at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant Ocean. The views here provide exactly what it says above the door: breathtaking views across the Portuguese coastline and it’s menu, devised by two Michelin starred Austrian Chef Hans Neuner, features freshest catch of the day and the finest flavours of the region. So whilst Hans Neuner showcased dishes such Sea Urchin, carrot and olive or rock prawn, almond ‘satay’ and a main course of Atlantic Monkfish, lentils and Topinambur (a type of Jerusalem artichoke) Chef Allan was busy at work in the same kitchen on his own separate menu. The kitchen’s slick open plan design, certainly provides enough space for the busy Chefs and additionally, the pride of Chef Neuner - ever the perfectionist - is that he also has an entire warehouse of bespoke crockery plus a plethora of various stemware, so that each dish and wine pairing can be perfectly matched to their precise contents. It is that level of care, even in what may be considered a holiday resort, that has ensured Vila Vita and Chef Neuner continue to herald the next wave of top chefs at Ocean! Yes Chef !

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