Just a few months after Italy and France the house Moët Hennessy launched their creative combustion’s menu with an exclusive press dinner last week. The evening took place in the restaurant Focus of the magnificent 5 star hotel, the Park Hotel Vitznau. Located on the lake of Lucerne, the hotel was recently awarded with the prestigious title of “Gaultmillau Hotel of the year 2014”.
The Dom Pérignon creative combustion’s project started in the Spring 2013. The legendary champagne brand, with its vision to create the best wine in the world, commissioned 9 renowned chefs to make a menu which pairs well together with the Dom Pérignon Rosé Paradox Vintage 2003.
For “the year of no others” like some say, due to severe frost and heat waves the best chefs had to be found. So Moët & Chandon, the producer of the champagne, went on searching…
Laurent André from France, Matteo Baronetto from Italy, Ricardo Muñoz Zurita from Mexico, Ricard Camarena from Spain, Nenad Mlinarevic from Switzerland, Renal Epié from the United Arabian Emirates, Oliver Lange from the UK, David Deshaies and Karim Lakhani from the United States were the chosen figures!
But what was the jury looking for in these chefs?
Among other things it was important to find creative, dynamic, curious and young chefs, who could be a bit provocative and go beyond their limits. The chefs had to work in 1 or 2 Michelin stars restaurants or with 17 or 18 Gault Millau points. They had to be able to create inspiring dishes using different flavours and colours to demonstrate the ultimate contrast of the Vintage 2003.
For the Marketing and Sales Department at Moët Hennessy, who choose Nenad right away, it was obvious it would be the perfect match.
The chefs were asked to create recipes to share at the 3 day program last year. They first met in the birth town of Dom Pérignon located in Hautvillers in Northern France. There they went to the Abbey of St. Pierre. In the 17th century the monk found he could make sparkling wine when he saw what happened to his bottles stored in the sand. The first bottles were drunk at the court of the French king, Louis XIV.
The chefs had a unique tasting experience and exchanged ideas. Then, they headed to the market in Ringis near Paris to select their ingredients. Later they started cooking and creating amazing dishes. Only the best nine dishes out of the nineteen were selected.
At the Restaurant Focus Nenad prepared, with a young team of cooks, five dishes for his menu. The dinner, which lasted three hours, was served on a long rectangle table, decorated with a dark table cloth, matching the new black label of Dom Pérignon and with here and there some pink tones to bring out the “pink” on the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2003. On the table each guest had a menu and photo souvenir of the creative combustion event and around were put large illustrations of Nenad on board stands.
The dishes served were an hamachi sashimi ceviche style rhubarb and scallop crisp, a crispy pea vichyssoise, a salmon rabbit and hazelnut butter salad, a roasted brioche with pigeon breast and rhubarb and some red fruits beets.
It was a feast for all senses with a colourful pea vichyssoise, a tasty Asian appetizer originally made by the UK chef “Olyssan”, an interesting mix of flavoUrs with the salad of raw salmon and rabbit and the harmonious and daring dish of Nenad, the pigeon breast with brioche.
With that dish Nenad had met with certainty the creativity and provocative criteria’s. The juicy and tender pigeon breast was served on top of a roasted brioche, surrounded by red beets and rhubarb. The melange of acidy, sweetness from the veggies, the creamy taste of the brioche and the wildness from the pigeon was done to the perfection. The funniest and daring touch on the plate was the leg of the pigeon, left with its nails. When Nenad came to the table later on he assured his guests that he had polished the nails!
It has been a challenge for Nenad to prepare not only his dish but those of four other chefs. Taking someone else recipe to make its own requires great flexibility and is a major challenge. Nicola Pasquero, the Senior Brand Manager of Moët Hennessy Switzerland, who had visited Nenad in the kitchen earlier that afternoon recalled with a smile how Nenad felt on preparing the other chefs creations.
Yes, for Nenad making this menu was maybe not completely his style but it was certainly an innovative and interesting experience.
The evening had started with a champagne tasting in the astonishing wine cave of the Park Hotel Vitznau, which holds more than 30,000 bottles. Mr. Pasquero spoke with great passion about Dom Pérignon during the degustation of first the Dom Pérignon Blanc (2003 & 2004) and then the Dom Pérignon Rosé Paradox Vintage 2003.
It has been a long way since Dom Pérignon was discovered and for it to become the drink of the kings and nobles. Later it came into the hands of Marilyn Monroe and Lady Di. Today it is often the drink for jubilees and glamourous events.
Dom Pérignon is only Vintage, known as millesimé in France. The House is constantly in search for excellence and is therefore, made from the best Pinot and Chardonnay grapes of one year. One important thing to remember says Pasquero is that with Dom Pérignon time is important. For a Blanc you need to wait at least 6-7 years before it is declared a Vintage and for a Rosé 8-9 years. Then, it has to be commercialized.
The first Dom Pérignon was made in 1921 and the first Rosé in 1959. The Vintage 2002 Rosé was launched in Istanbul in 2013 during an international press event.
It is always the chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, who declares the Dom Pérignon vintages. The Rosé Vintage 2003, which we tasted was released in 2012. The declaration can happen at any season and only depends on the stage of its maturation and the bottle level of ripeness. Mr. Geoffroy is described as the “Dom Pérignon Creator”, as a comparable roleto, an artist or a painter. He has all of the power to decide if there will be a vintage or not that year.
In 2013 the house Moët Hennessy launched the Rosé Vintage 2003 together with the collaboration of the American Pop artist Jeff Koons. It was a special year as two Rosé Vintages were launched.
“You discover Dom Pérignon with the palate”, continues Nicola Pasquero, while gently turning his glass showing the nice deep amber and copper tints.
We all agreed that the Rosé Vintage 2003 had wonderful aromas and was the ideal combination with Nenad’s menu.
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