The award-winning, Mark Finlay designed, 33,000 square-feet clubhouse, which overlooks the 1st and 18th fairways.
ANNOUNCEMENT - April 15th 2019, Avon, CT: The second annual Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards will be held at GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford, New York on August 19th, 2019.
Michael Ruggiero, Executive Chef, GlenArbor Golf Club along with Chefs from some of the most prestigious Private Golf and Country Clubs in the USA and abroad will cook up an elite, fine dining feast paired with exceptional wines selected by GlenArbor's esteemed Wine and Beverage Director Fernando Silva for the members and guests of this invitation-only event.
"We are honored to partner with GlenArbor Golf Club for this important yearly event in the industry. Illuminating the culinary talent has been my vision for Golf Kitchen since its conception and alongside GlenArbor I envision the awards will continue to develop well into the future,” said Diana DeLucia.
"We are honored to host the “Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards” that recognize executives at the forefront of providing the highest caliber experience for members and guests. The creativity, attitude, and thinking of club chefs has significantly progressed in the last decade, and we are encouraged at the direction the industry is moving. Diana and Golf Kitchen are at the forefront of this movement, and I applaud the notion that many public and private facilities are finally getting recognized as having some of the best minds and leaders in the culinary industry. It's not often that one team within a club can influence so many human emotions in a single seating.. sight, smell, touch, and taste.. what a gift.." remarked Morgan Gregory, President, GlenArbor Golf Club.
Stay tuned to learn about our culinary team lineup and award recipients in the coming months.
About GlenArbor Golf Club
Providing a collegial combination of golf, fine dining, and camaraderie, the GlenArbor Golf Club was founded in 2001. The Club is located on 200 acres of land in northern Westchester County, on grounds that were originally developed in 1917 as the White Estate – one of the largest, historic estates in Westchester. GlenArbor’s master plan preserved the property’s historic roots as benefitting its heritage. The award-winning, Mark Finlay designed, 33,000 square-feet clubhouse that overlooks the first and eighteenth fairways, and offers stunning views of the course and the surrounding landscape. Formal and informal dining options are available along with a number of private dining and meetings rooms in which to host intimate and larger member events.
To learn more about GlenArbor’s rich history and culture, and why it is the leader in the metropolitan area for membership satisfaction, please visit the Club’s website: http://www.glenarborclub.com/History-Culture.aspx
Gary Player was carefully selected to design and transform the land while preserving its native beauty into a world-class golf course, proudly calling it “his masterpiece.” The Par 72 course measures 6,981 yards and hosts under 10,000 rounds annually. The 9-hole short game facility also designed by Player is part of the Club’s renowned teaching program. The State-of-the-Art Teaching Center is open year-round and operated by passionate teaching professionals that truly customize the experience for the membership. GlenArbor hosts the Gary Player Invitational yearly in October.
The Club is dedicated to conservation and recognized for its leadership in bluebird research and its farm garden initiatives. The dining experience is further enhanced by produce from GlenArbor’s organic gardens.
The Club is open from the middle of March until Christmas Eve. The indoor Teaching Center remains open for lessons throughout the winter. During the season, the Club is open six days a week (closed Tuesdays for golf outings). Lunch and dinner are served six days a week.
About Golf Kitchen
The Golf Kitchen concept was initially born at a meeting at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton in 2010. With some solid ideas, Diana DeLucia, created her first book and proof of concept titled Golf Club World, Behind the Gates which published in 2013. The recipes and culinary stories proved to be very popular and thus the Golf Kitchen book concept was realized. DeLucia traveled the USA and the world to uncover some of the finest Private Golf and Country Club and Resort teams. The first Golf Kitchen book was launched at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York and hosted by Executive Chef Rhy Waddington and a star-studded line up of Private Golf and Country Club Chefs from the USA and abroad cooking a food and wine tasting menu for the members and guests that will always be a night to remember. A similar event quickly followed at Cassique at Kiawah Island Club, South Carolina which was hosted by Executive Chef Doug Blair and once again included a collaboration of an elite group of chefs from Private Golf and Country Clubs from the USA and abroad. It was at Cassique that the magazine concept was born, and Golf Kitchen Magazine is now in its second year.
Golf Kitchen Punta Mita, an annual four-day golf and culinary extravaganza followed and was hosted in Punta Mita, Mexico - which boasts both Four Seasons and St. Regis resorts on the property and two renowned Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed golf courses, Pacifico and Bahia – on April of 2018 with the help and support of Punta Mita's Director of Marketing and Communications, Carl Emberson. To see more about this yearly event please visit www.golfkitchenpuntamita.com
The Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards launched its inaugural event at Edgewood Country Club in New Jersey on October 4th, 2018 and now has a new home at the prestigious GlenArbor Golf Club, in Bedford, New York USA.
The second book in the Golf Kitchen series is titled Golf Kitchen Americas and will launch at the “Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards” at GlenArbor Golf Club on August 19th, 2019.
For more information about Golf Kitchen Americas, please contact the author, Diana DeLucia.
For Sponsorship opportunities:
Cell: 860 406 1782
Cell: 860 406 1782
President, GlenArbor Golf Club
Recipe by Adam Beattie, Food and Beverage Director at Mayacama Golf Club, Sonoma County, California, USA.
Image by Diana DeLucia.
Pour all ingredients into a double rocks glass and stir with a bar spoon.
Garnish with the blood orange wheel.
The 18th fairway and the Mayacama Clubhouse. Image courtesy Mayacama Golf Club.
Recipe by Michael Ruggiero, Executive Chef at GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford, New York, USA. Image by Diana DeLucia.
Cherry Ganache Filling
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a paddle.
Add the wet ingredients and blend well.
Cherry Ganache Filling
Melt the chocolate, heavy cream and sugar in a double boiler.
Liaison the egg yolks and vanilla extract with the melted chocolate mixture.
Allow the mixture to sit at room temp until it cools to a piping consistency.
Pipe the ganache filling into the dark truffle shells.
Coat with the chocolate batter and drop into a preheated 325°F fryer for 2 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Penfolds Grandfather, Rare Tawny, 20 years, Barossa, Australia.
Let’s pair the truffles with a Deep Tawny; its distinctive yellow-green edge is characteristic of extended wood maturation. Intense raisin fruits, fruitcake, licorice, roasted walnuts all integrated seamlessly with a freshness contradicting age.
Classical Penfolds fruitcake, licorice and vanillin oak flavors with a sweet full and round mid-palate, and a finish that persists on and on. A balancing act for your decadent chocolate finish!
Wine Director and Sommerlier
GlenArbor Golf Club
The GlenArbor Clubhouse. Image courtesy of GlenArbor.
Matthew O'Connor, Executive Chef at Bonnie Briar Country Club, Larchmont, New York, USA.
Image left by Diana DeLucia, Image right courtesy Matthew O'Connor.
In 2015, I was very fortunate to travel to Morocco with a group of general managers, golf professionals, and journalists. It was on this journey that I met Kevin Burke, then General Manager of Bonnie Briar Country Club. I struck up a conversation with Kevin several times regarding the culinary side of golf. Kevin spoke very highly of his chef and his culinary team. Fast forward to 2018, and here I am working with that very same unsung Executive Chef. Although Kevin has moved on, the current General Manager Joe Napolitano is equally appreciative of Matt and the culinary team. — Diana Delucia
GK: Where did you grow up Matt?
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. My dad Ed O’Connor, who loved to be out on the water, had a commercial crabbing and fishing license. It wasn’t his source of income; he just had a passion for it. From the age of three, I was on the boat with him every weekend, catching crabs, fishing for striped bass and things like that. Looking back that’s probably where my interest in food began. Every Saturday we would come home, and steam bushels of crabs and the family would come over, my grandmother would make potato salad, and dad would cook on the grill. I never realized how amazing that was until I left for school.
I went to a vocational high school called The Western School of Technology in Environmental Science, and at that time I thought I was going to be a paramedic because they had a health science program. The first half of my freshman year I had to take several different subjects the school offered. I did health science, and I did culinary classes and electronics; after that, I had to pick the field I wanted to focus on.
I wasn’t great at health science or electronics due to my math and science grades, so I wound up in culinary. After two weeks, I was like, I love this. My teacher was great. He pushed me into ACF (American Culinary Federation) competitions when I was in high school. I was competing against college kids! I got a job at a local restaurant part-time, it was horrible, but I worked really hard and then later that year the owner Pat Patterson decided to sell it. He said, ”I see a lot of promise in you, would you be interested in getting a job next door?” I immediately took the opportunity. It was a Baltimore Sun three-star French restaurant named Tersiguels in Ellicott City, Maryland. It was a family run farm-to-table restaurant. They were doing seven-course tasting menus, which was not mainstream at that time. The son Michel was the chef, his father Fernand was the maitre’d, and his mother Odette was the ex-chef, but she still came in and made all the dessert! She used to work out of the very illegal kitchen in the basement. She would kick my ass all afternoon making desserts and yelling at me in French; I picked up a lot of things from that experience. I learned the love for ingredients, and in the summer, they’d come in with bushels of tomatoes, beets, and goat cheese and things like that. It was interesting to me to see the process of where ingredients came from. I think it molded who I am today. I still keep in touch with him to this day, they’ve been open for over 25 years and have survived several recent floods. I worked there until I turned 18 and began studying at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in Hyde Park, New York. I graduated when I turned 21.
GK: Where did you do your externship?
I did my externship at the Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore because I couldn’t afford to go abroad or to the French laundry and stuff like that. The hotel was a five-star, five-diamond, and Conde Nast Traveler rated. I spent most of my externship in the restaurant, and it was a great learning experience. Matthew Laurence was the executive chef. When I graduated from the CIA I went back to Harbor Court as the morning sous chef, and then I became the evening sous chef. Matthew Laurence, the executive chef, left to open his own business in Rochester. It was a catering business, and he asked me to come work for him. I was very interested as I knew I would get to see what it’s like to open up a new restaurant and business. He had grand plans! The space was 24,000 square feet, and it had a huge banquet hall with a historic house attached that he could live in. The house had room for a restaurant, but it never really materialized.
GK: What did you do next?
I moved back to Maryland, and I got the banquet chef position at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC, which was a fantastic experience, and at 23 I had a staff of almost 50. Although I had been cooking since I was 14, I found the Willard to be seriously hardcore training. We did $13 million a year just in the banquet department and $24 million in overall food and beverage sales. It was 24/7. I cooked for George Bush twice. There was always a dignitary or someone’s private chef in the kitchen, and you never knew if there was a Prince of wherever in town. The Secret Service were always in the kitchen. It was a fantastic experience, but it was very taxing, and it took a toll on me after a while. It did teach me a lot about mass production and banquets and how to do things very well for a lot of people, it had to be perfect.
After the Willard I did some corporate catering for Legg Mason in their corporate office in Baltimore, and after that I moved back to Rochester, New York and worked at several places while awaiting the opening of Matthew Laurence’s location, sadly after three months I was to be told it was not going to get off the ground. It was a tough time as we had a baby on the way. I was fortunate to get a position at the Marriott in Rochester and then I ended up overseeing 17 properties for EJ Delmonte Hotels in Western New York. That was a really cool position as I got to travel a bit.
GK: When did you gain an interest in country clubs?
I was always interested in country clubs. I had a friend, Max Knoepfel, who worked at Westchester Country Club for two years. He told me that I needed to come to see Westchester. He was formerly the chef at Belle Haven Country Club in Virginia, and my best friend Don Fisch was the executive sous chef. I went to Westchester and did a few events with them, and Max told me, “Call David Myers the headhunter, he’s really hooked up with the country clubs. Maybe there might be a vacancy somewhere.” As it turned out Rockland Country Club in Tappan, NY had a job for the executive chef position, I took it, and they doubled my pay!
That was a stepping stone, and I stayed there for two years, it was great. After Rockland Country Club I went to Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, NY for a short time, but it wasn’t a good fit for me, and we mutually parted ways, and that’s when I got in touch with Kevin Burke, the general manager at Bonnie Briar Country Club.
GK: How did you meet Kevin Burke?
I was getting desperate because I had parted ways with Old Oaks two weeks before Christmas and was a young father to my son John who was just eight months old. I was interviewing at Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Connecticut, and one of my meat purveyors told me that I should call Kevin Burke at Bonnie Briar Country Club. I called Kevin, and he said, “Yeah, you need to come in for an interview, and you should come in tomorrow.” It was interesting because the first person I met introduced himself to me as the executive chef and I was like, okay, they have an interim chef here. They had been through several chefs in four years, so they had this gentleman who actually came out of retirement to oversee the place. He told me that he was only going to stay for another year and that if I take the sous chef position, it will likely turn into the executive chef position. In my head, I had no interest.
After the interview, Kevin cornered me and said, “I just want to tell you that you really aced this interview. I’m going to call you back.” I thanked him and told him that I appreciated the feedback. I told Kevin, “I’m really not interested in being a sous chef. I’ve been an executive chef for a long time, and I’m interviewing at the Harbor Yacht Club, and I only have the cooking test to go, and I am very confident I will get the position.” Kevin said, “Just hang tight.” I went home, and he called me the next day. He asked me to come in on Monday which was two or three days away. “I want you to meet with someone from the board,” Kevin said. I said, “I’m doing my cooking test at Indian Harbor tomorrow.” Kevin asked me to send me the pictures from the test, and I did.
Indian Harbor Yacht Club needed to wait for their board meeting to make a decision. This gave me some time to meet with Bonnie Briar on Monday. I interviewed with a board member Doug Jung and on my way home he called me and offered me a job, I said, “I don’t want a sous chef job.” He said, “No, the executive chef position!” I was surprised. They had paid their interim chef in advance and gave me 24 hours. I called the yacht club and told them I had a job offer, and I’m in no position to turn anything down at this point. They needed to wait for their board meeting, and I said, “I don’t have that much time to risk.” I accepted the position at Bonnie Briar, and it is the best decision I have ever made. Kevin was a very supportive general manager. They wanted to change the food and beverage here immediately. This was an excellent situation for me! We had a very supportive president, and we achieved a lot in a year.
GK: What are your plans for Bonnie Briar moving forward?
We were talking about doing our own bacon, which I know would be really cool. We will make our own sausages, and salami and maybe we will start to do our own dry aging meats. Things like that will immediately improve our product and also lower our costs. The members see that as a win-win situation.
GK: Tell us about your staff?
I love my staff, and my sous chef junior is one of the kindest and hardest working people I have ever come in contact with. I have people here that I can see growing to become chefs in their own right. I want to spend more time with them and get the club involved to offer them some continued education so they can see more outside of these walls. I have a gentleman who started here as a food runner, but I could always see how interested he was as we grew. He was always asking me, “How did you do that? That’s really neat. When will you let me taste things?” Now he’s working here full-time, and he’s moved up. He’s my grill cook at night, but I’d love to find him a path to go to school. I think he needs that to grow.
I want to focus a little bit more of my time into helping with their education if I can. I’ve looked into the ACF, they have an apprenticeship program, but to be approved for that apprenticeship program they need the paperwork. I only have so many resources here, and I don’t have a college campus that I’m affiliated with. I sit on the board for the Westchester Community College culinary program, but it’s not what is needed for ACF. I’m trying to get the membership more involved with that to understand that they have a real opportunity to improve someone’s life and also make them very loyal to this club. That’s one of the things that our new General Manager Joe Napolitano who has a culinary background can assist me in achieving.
GK: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years? I hope I’m still here doing improvements, more renovations, and a new kitchen if they will give me the blessing for that. Long term I would like to train to be a general manager.
The Bonnie Briar Clubhouse. Image courtesy Bonnie Briar Country Club.
Recipe by Rick Dees, Entertainer, Producer and Owner of Rick.com and Sweetbriar Farm, Danville, Kentucky, USA.
Image by Diana DeLucia.
Yield: 12-15 slices
Preheat oven to 325 °F, butter and line an 8-8-inch or 9-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Combine vanilla, oil, melted butter, eggs, buttermilk and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat well. Stir in dry ingredients, and fold in the prunes and nuts.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the center springs back when touched lightly in the center. Remove from the oven and let cake cool for 10 minutes.
Chef Note: While the cake is baking, prepare the Bourbon Sauce.
Mix together sugar, salt, buttermilk mixture, corn syrup, bourbon, butter and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for one minutes. Set aside.
Invert still-warm cake onto a serving platter.
Spoon all of the bourbon sauce over the cake and let it soak in.
Dust with the powdered sugar.
Serve warm. Cut into 12-15 slices... and get outta the way!!!
Sweetbriar Farm, Danville, Kentucky, USA. Image by Diana DeLucia.
Farmer Lee Jones (left) with Jamie Simpson (right)
Image by Diana DeLucia.
I met Jamie Simpson for the first time at The Chef’s Garden in Ohio in late 2017. It was an absolute pleasure to discover such a passionate young man who has followed his instincts and dreams. I have worked with many great chefs but this young man stands out from the crowd in one particular fashion - he is truly living his dream without worry of the day to day challenges of a restaurant model. His passion for his craft paired with the freedom he has been given at The Chef’s Garden has allowed him to create culinary visions on a daily basis to his heart’s desire. He has given the culinary industry much inspiration. ~ Diana DeLucia
GK: Where are you originally from, Jamie?
Charleston, South Carolina.
GK: Where did your culinary career begin?
When I was 20, I began working at the Charleston Place Hotel, which was managed by the Orient Express company. It’s right in the heart of Charleston. It houses beautiful restaurants and beautiful amenities. It was a 400 room hotel. In my time at Orient Express I was privileged to travel to six or seven of their properties around the world.
GK: How did you find the Chef’s Garden and Farmer Lee Jones?
I met Farmer Lee at The Charleston Food and Wine Festival, but I never realized the reach that he had. When I began traveling, I started to see more and more of The Chef’s Garden produce. I was lucky enough to spend some time working with Joel Robuchon, and when I saw that The Chef’s Garden produce was placed on a pedestal with its own space, I was magnetized. I called Farmer Lee to see if there was an opportunity to come and see the farm, and as a result, I spent two weeks there and had the kitchen to myself at nights, during the day I’d go and work in the fields. The effort that they had made for me was special, and I fell in love. I went back to Charleston and stayed there for another few years, and then one day I decided to call Farmer Lee back - as the farm was always on my mind. Farmer said “I have a project for you if you’re interested in it, it’s a four-month deal, it will help us get set up for the Roots Conference.
GK: Tell us about the Roots Conference.
The Roots Conference is an annual gathering that brings together luminaries throughout the culinary world. Writers, speakers, advocates, and most importantly, Chefs, gather here at The Culinary Vegetable Institute at The Chef’s Garden annually to hear a curated selection of the most forward thinking and like minds. Our topics can range from labor laws to design ideas to water in Africa. Every year is different. 2012 was the first Roots Conference, we had about 120 people, I didn’t know anyone, and I was in way over my head,I didn’t know how to organize a conference, but it was a plunge into a different world, and I loved it, and I still love it.
GK: When did you get offered the full-time position?
After the second of my four month Roots Assignment, Farmer offered me a full-time position. What has kept me here is the connection to where our food comes from. Knowing every single person involved in the product that we serve is amazing. Having the ability to sort of stop amid the noise and haste of the standard restaurant models and be able to focus on a single
product, technique, presentation, or flavor profile. That’s been a huge and valuable opportunity for everyone that enters this kitchen.
GK: Tell us about your relationship with Farmer Lee.
He’s like a dad. After that first visit all those years ago, the farm never left my mind or my heart. When I returned, I ended up staying with Lee and Mary, in their house for 18 months. Our early morning cups of coffee; he’ll probably tell you the same if you ask him, were some of the most fundamental, shape-shifting conversations of my life. Farmer Lee is a thinker. He’s a big picture painter. He’s an artist. The conversations that we had, back and forth, is what this place has become. It’s a mutual chef and farmer relationship. “Where are we in the season right now?” That kind of conversation comes from Farmer, and that’ll allow us to understand what direction the menus are going. It keeps things genuine.
GK: There’s a lot of planning here for each day as well as future planning. Tell us about that.
Imagine an old homestead. Imagine what you had to do in your house, with your family, to preserve your way through the year. If you’re going to produce everything off your land, not only survive but to do it deliciously, it’seven more work. Anybody can throw some turnips in a pressure cooker, it’s the art and craft of cooking that keeps people coming back for more.
GK: How do you encourage learning?
Everybody is encouraged and empowered to find new flavors and textures and new species of plants that are available or lend themselves to the culinary applications. We’ll explore them if it makes sense, then that becomes dialogue for the sales and marketing team. Then we may ask “Who wants this?” We’ve had people who travel, explorers who’d travel the world looking for rare and unique and exotic forms of produce. A lot of what we find are things that lend themselves to a particular region. We can create tropical environments and grow in greenhouses.
GK: Is the farm all year round?
Yes. It’s amazing.
GK: Does it snow here?
Yes. But Farmer Lee will say “It’s all about Mother Nature’s balance, painful but oh so helpful. It helps with the drainage of water for the following summer, it helps kill off plant diseases in the soil and helps reduce insect populations, these are all natures way of maintaining the proper balance.”
GK: How many varieties of product are grown here?
There are approximately 600 varieties of vegetables here.
GK: What drives the farm?
To the farm, the driving philosophy is that “every part of the plant’s life offers something new and unique to the plate.” You’ll probably hear Farmer say that. Every single plant. It’s just a matter of application. Some things don’t lend themselves as easily to a plate, but with the right application, they’re amazing. You see it with turnips, beets, carrots and parsnips, even rutabaga flowers. Brussel sprouts and broccoli make flowers and really cool seeds. Carrots were a spice and an herb for 5,000 years! For 300 years we’ve been eating the root as a civilization. When was the last time you had carrot herb? Or carrot spice?
GK: Sounds like a lot of historical research is happening here.
Oh, yeah! It’s what this place is. It’s a delicate and delicious balance between preserving traditions even beyond what we know as tradition.
GK: It’s like going back in time before 1953 before they brought in all the pesticides. You’re adventurous and an artist, you’re going back to the study of food and product. I think Chefs find their roots when they visit the farm.
Yes, we have an average of 600 visiting chefs a year that come through. It’s become this bucket list destination for people to see. That’s powerful.
GK: Pertaining specifically to the Private Golf and Resort Industry, I am discovering a stronger interest in the culinary side of the club. Health and Wellness are becoming big terms at Private Clubs and Resorts nowadays, and they are starting to think about where they can source the best product for their members; people like yourselves are very influential.
Thank you. We are continually working with many new approaches and technologies; this allows us to grow and develop and hopefully, we can make big strides in the way people view and eat food.
~by Diana DeLucia
Tomato Salad with tomato sorbet, fried green tomato and campari tomato filled with tomato cherry gazpacho. Recipe by Jamie Simpson, The Chef's Garden. Image by Diana DeLucia.
GK: How did you become involved in the Wine and Champagne business?
It was quite an extraordinary change of life that took me from a high school science master on Queensland’s Gold Coast fifteen years ago to the privilege of ultimately bringing the title of International Wine Communicator of the Year to Australia for the first time. At the age of 26, I had a growing ambition to write about wine, to tell the stories of the remarkable people and places that create this amazing beverage. And so, I set about writing my first wine book. I had a great concept; I knew there was an interested audience, so all I had to do was find a publisher. I proudly sent my pitch to every worthy publisher I could find, eager to launch a career as a wine writer!
The response was unanimously deflating: ‘If you’re not a celebrity or an established author, we’re not interested.’ My writing career was doomed before it even began, but then I put my mind to forging another way. I laid out my first book on a borrowed desktop computer in my back room late at night. And before I knew it, I’d spent $5,000 on printing, and I was a self-published author! It was to be the first of thirteen wine books that I would self-publish, and it’s only been in the past three years that I’ve made the switch to working with a big publisher to open up international distribution opportunities.
GK: Where did your vision to create the Champagne Guide originate?
My interest in champagne was sparked during a family holiday visit to the region in 2010 and the realization that there was a need for an up-to-date guide in English. My favorite English champagne writers were retiring, and I wished that I could find up-to-date reviews in print. My first Champagne Guide was a succinct (176 page) book, but it created a much bigger stir than I ever expected. Within months of its publication, I was flying to London to be awarded International Champagne Writer of the Year in The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2011.
Six years on, I am currently releasing the fifth edition of The Champagne Guide. I’m frequently asked why I write more about champagne than anything else. It goes without saying that I love the wine, the place, and its people. I am thrilled by the challenge of unraveling what is probably the most complex wine style in the world, and I love the chase of discovering the real story behind the wines of its most guarded brands. Of all the world’s most famous and celebrated wines, less is written about champagne than any other. There is no beverage that speaks of celebration more universally than champagne, traversing cultures and languages to toast everything from christenings to coronations. Of Europe’s most highly prized benchmarks, none is more readily available and more affordable across the globe than champagne. There is much to celebrate, much that champagne’s eager drinkers are thirsty to learn, and I count it a great privilege to bring the real stories of this enchanting place to the world, but there’s a more important reason. Wine is about connecting people, about bringing people together and building relationships. And champagne does that better than any other wine.
GK: Tell us about the research you had to accomplish to produce the Champagne Guide.
There is something of a ‘thrill of the chase’ in researching champagne quite unlike any other wine. For me, the key to communicating with champagne is to unearth and demystify the people, the places and the processes that define every cuvée as unique. To understand the soils, the slopes, the climate, the grapes, the wine making, the aging and the personalities of each of the characters who craft every detail of this long and convoluted process. The challenge and the chase come because volunteering these details is not traditionally the way of the Champenoise. Every year I fight my way through the froth and bubble of the most over marketed wine region in the world. These are a guarded folk, and their promotions and communication have long circled around glamorous estates, illustrious histories, elaborate packaging, fabricated prestige, gushing rhetoric, stratospheric pricing, flirtations with royalty, sightings with supermodels, or websites with more animated glitz that you can point a cursor at!
These trite campaigns do little to communicate what makes a house style or a particular cuvée unique. My readers don’t have time or finances to taste every champagne to decide what they’ll drink, so it is my responsibility to communicate what every cuvée tastes, smells and feels like so they can quickly decide if might suit their taste and prove worthy of their investment. It has taken years and countless visits to build relationships with the key houses and growers and for them to build the confidence to confide in me the real stories of their vineyards, their cuveries, and their cellars, to unlock the minute details that make their cuvées unique. And over the seven years since this has been my focus, it’s been encouraging to see the region beginning to open up. Back labels, web sites, and brochures are much more informative now than they have ever been, as houses appreciate
that an ever more educated world of champagne lovers is thirsty to lap up this detail.
GK: You are promoting Tasmania, how does Tasmania fit into your story?
I have long loved Tasmanian sparkling, though I haven’t lived there since I was four years old, I was born in Australia’s little, southerly island state, I’ve returned there in recent times to film harvest for a television series, and I’ve watched its wine industry come of age in recent years. After champagne became a special focus, I was approached by James Halliday to write the sparkling reviews for his Australian Wine Companion, the most important annual Australian wine guide. In recent years, I have also published my own Australian Sparkling Report, a comprehensive review of 500 Australian sparkling wines of all kinds, free to download at www.tysonstelzer.com/articles.
Across my tastings year after year, Tasmania confidently reaffirms its place as Australia’s sparkling capital. Australia’s isolated, cool, southerly island state is privileged to a marginal and challenging climate well suited to premium sparkling growing. Its significance at the pinnacle of Australian sparkling cannot be overstated. Most parts of mainland Australia are warmer and sunnier than northern Europe and consequently not well suited to producing great white or rosé sparkling wines. Climate change is only serving to exacerbate this situation. Tasmania ascends to ever greater sparkling heights with each passing year. In Australian capital city wine show history, no sparkling wine has ever eclipsed all still and fortified wines to win champion wine of show. Until now. Over the past two years, Tasmanian sparklings have been awarded the highest recognition in top Australian wine shows not once but four times, winning the trophies for the Best Wine of Show in The National Wine Show in Canberra, The Sydney Royal Wine Show, The Royal Queensland Wine Show and The National Cool Climate Wine Show. Tasmanian sparkling has finally come of age, and in the wake of such tremendous domestic success, it’s time for Australia to unveil its finest fizz on the world stage. This is the reason that I am traveling to New York this month to not only launch the new edition of The Champagne Guide but to showcase an invitation- only selection of my favorite Tasmanian sparkling producers, both the famous names and the smallest boutiques.
For more information about Tyson Stelzer please visit his website at www.winepress.com.au
~ by Diana DeLucia
REDVANLY is a modern athletic wear line designed specifically for athletes, with the vision to create product enhancing efficiency and complement passionate performance. Images courtesy REDVANLY.
GK: What is your core focus?
Our job is to nurture consumers athletic nature, honor their core commitment to sports, secure their passion for high-level performance, and design unparalleled product aimed to enhance personal discovery with ultra-comfortable pieces that are created to compete.
GK: How have you achieved your captive audience?
We started very small and have grown the business through green grass and through our online store. Each year we have increased the business and the collection. Our first collection was a total of nine styles, and in a few months we will release our largest collection which will be well over 100. Although that is still not a large line by any means, we are proud of our growth and the response to the products.
GK: Tell us about your new golf short.
We are coming out with an elastic based pull-on golf short for the 2018 Spring / Summer season. It is going to look just like a golf short the only difference is it will come in S-XL, and the waistband will be 100% elastic. You will be able to pull it on and then button up and throw a belt on. It will be the most comfortable short to swing in. When you think about it, golf is the only sport in which men do not compete in elastic. I always thought to myself how great it would be to play golf in gym shorts. We are making that happen except they won’t look anything like gym shorts!
GK: Do you consider a chef be athletic, and the environmental component to be similar to athletic wear you have chosen for tennis and golf?
I believe many chefs would appreciate a lot of our products because of our material. Chefs have to stay fresh and comfortable in extremely hot environments and would appreciate how our fabric wicks as much as anybody.
GK: Have you ever tested your fabric in a steaming hot kitchen?
Yes! We have done some testing with chefs in that environment for Golf Kitchen, and I think by having done so it has given us more of an understanding on how much our products can handle by putting them to the ultimate test. We are always researching and testing unique performance fabrics, and I like the idea of doing some kitchen testing each time we release a new fabric.
~ by Leo Bushey
For more information about REDVANLY go to www.redvanly.com
Middleton Made Knives. Image by Diana DeLucia.
I had a wonderful time interviewing this young and talented Bladesmith, Quintin Middleton of Middleton Knives deep from the
heart of South Carolina where his passion for knives is turning up the heat. ~ Leo Bushey
GK: Quintin, would you like share with us who you are and how you were inspired to make beautifully handcrafted precision blades for the definitive chefs?
I am the maker and owner of Middleton Made Knives. My knife passion started as a young boy. I wanted to make swords. My fantasy sword was Conan the Barbarian’s sword, that’s where it all started. Anytime I would watch a fantasy film; my imagination would just run wild. I wanted to be Conan, Luke Skywalker, He-Man, or any Samurai or Knight in the movies. The medieval era is what I wanted to reenact. Fast forward a few more years; I began working in a local mall selling knives, cigars, and memorabilia swords. One day, Jason Knight came in to buy a sword, and he told me that he made knives for a living. I asked him, “Can you teach me how to make knives?” After this, he became my mentor. He primarily makes Bowie knives, fighter knives, and hunting knives. He was one of the judges on the TV show "Forged in Fire."
GK: How did you get into making knives for culinarians?
After several years of making hunting knives and swords I had a dream. God told me to make chef knives. From hearing that voice, I decided to make a list of every top chef in Charleston. I called every last one of them and asked them if they would be interested in purchasing my knives, every last one of them turned me down. Craig Deihl, the Executive Chef of Cypress, was the one that gave me an opportunity. He didn’t buy anything because truthfully my knives were based and shaped by hunting knives. They were thick and really heavy. He gave me his input on what a professional chef would want in the kitchen. After that advice, I made him a knife and tested it for a few weeks. He gave me more insights and advice, and from that information, I created what he desired. I’ve been making knives for 15 years now, and I’ve been making chef knives for seven.
GK: Where has your market grown? Who are some of the chefs that use your knives?
My knives have been sold all across the USA, from South Carolina, California, Hawaii, to Australia. I’ve been featured in Ebony magazine, Vogue Italy and mentioned in GQ magazine. Sean Brock and Emeril Lagasse are famed keepers of my custom pieces, and the list just goes on and on.
GK: What is the process of forging a knife?
After I discover whether my client wants a stainless steel knife, high carbon steel knife, or a Damascus knife I then forge the sheet, cut the excess material away, and grind the profile of the knife. Once I have the template, I fire it in a kiln. If it’s stainless steel, I will heat it to 1,920 °F, and if it’s high carbon, I will bring it to 1,500 °F.
GK: Wow. That’s pretty hot. How long does it stay in the kiln? Do you hit it with a hammer?
Yes. That’s when I’m forging. Heat treating, that’s another process. Forging is when you have a smaller piece of steel, and you’re
trying to stretch it and pull it to the width and the size that you need. It’s similar to making pizza dough, for example, when I’m kneading the dough to form a ball, I stretch it out with a hammer by repetitive hard strikes to the correct width for the pizza I am
making. That’s exactly what I am doing with steel except with blacksmith tools and at a very high temperature.
GK: Do you buy American Steel?
I have a supplier in New Jersey. Once I receive the steel, I’ll either forge it, or I will do a process called stock removal. From there, I would take it to heat treating, which is when the knife is heated to the critical temperature of 1,920 °F or 1,500 °F. After that, it begins changing the crystal structure inside the steel making it much harder, and it creates a stronger edge. After it's removed from the kiln, I dip it in oil, which shocks it and cools it quickly so that the knife will be hard, but very brittle, it’s almost like glass. If I were to take that knife and hit it against a table, it would probably snap in half at this stage of the process. The next step is called tempering. Tempering is a cooling method of taking the stress out of the steel. I’m baking it at a lower temperature, around 200 °F or 400 °F, for an hour or two to relieve the stress in the steel. Now I have a knife that is tough and has a high wear resistance. I can take that knife and put it in a vise, and bend it at a 90-degree angle
without it breaking, making it very durable.
GK: Have you passed all the quality specifications for your knives?
Yes, certain groups in the knife world test your knives. I am a member of the ABS, American Bladesmith's Society and I’ve passed all cut and bend tests.
GK: Tell us about your handles.
I use a lot of wood, especially maple burl which is the knot or the growth that comes off the side of the tree, the big knot part. I have a friend who customizes the block method for me. He’ll either dye it or stabilize it. I then take each block of wood and hold it up to God to see which one speaks to me. Each knife has its own personality. Another type of wood I use is Dymalux or Dymondwood. It’s veneered birch that’s compressed together like plywood. It's kept under high pressure with resin and glue,
so it's a really tough material. They use it making archery and gun stocks.
GK: Absolutely. I’m looking at them right now. They’re just fascinating. Tell us about the swirls and spirals on the blade. Is that a certain technique you do to develop that?
That is called Damascus steel. It’s a layering technique to create different patterns in the steel. You start off with two different types of steel, one that has chromium, another that has a higher carbon content, and you will mix those two together. That’s how you achieve the contrast between dark and light. The steel that has more chromium or nickel will stay light, and the steel that has the higher carbon content will turn dark.
GK: Is this a Japanese method of how they make their knives?
GK: They say that the Japanese method of forging steel is impeccable.
GK: Can you talk about your oyster knife a little bit?
When I came up with the idea for the oyster knife, (the brew shucker), it was Christmas time. My family was all around shucking oysters. They would use screwdrivers; some would have butter knives, they all had different gadgets to pop oysters. My uncles, who would be drinking beer, were opening their bottles on the picnic table to remove their caps. A vision came to me, and I thought, “why not create a knife that could shuck oysters and open beer bottles?.”
GK: What kind of price range can chefs or knife enthusiasts expect?
The top price ranges from $240-$440 for an eight-inch chef knife. We have a three-knife Echo set for around $500. The full price list can be found on my website at: www.middletonmadeknives.com
GK: What can our readers expect from Middleton Made Knives in 2018?
I’ll be creating my own signature style of pocketknives, and I also have some other ideas in the kiln!
GK: Tell us about the pocket knives.
One of the pocket knives I have called Ajaani which is a Nigerian name which means the man that survives the struggle. It’s an
old-type of gentleman’s knife. I’ve seen a lot of tactical knives, and a lot of really tough, heavy knives. This one will be a dress-up knife that you can take to special occasions when you don’t want to have your heavy tactical knives in your jacket pocket or your pants! It will be light and will not weigh you down.
~ by Leo Bushey
Sebastian Motoasca, Pastry Chef at Boca West Country Club, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. Image courtesy Boca West.
On a recent trip to Boca West Country Club last October, Darlene Wright, (who has been the personal assistant of now retired and beloved General Manager Jay DiPietro for over 20 years), told me about Sebastian, his Romanian roots and how talented he is with pastries and desserts. Once I met Sebastian, I saw his talent and had to talk to him. ~ Diana DeLucia
GK: What brought you from Romania to the USA?
Before I came to America, I lived in Romania, and worked in a bakery making bread and croissants. I was learning from my cousin, and after that I went to school in Romania to learn the baking trade. In 2001, I had a desire to visit the United States, and started working for Carnival Cruise Lines. I learned a lot about pastries and desserts while working for Carnival. In 2005 I left Carnival, and I started working at the Polo Club in Florida. I enjoyed working at the Polo Club making pastries, and in 2007 I came to Boca West.
GK: How did you get the position at Boca West?
When I was working at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, I had some friends who were working at Boca West Country Club. I came
to see Chef Roger Brock, and after one season I moved over here permanently. Boca West has a unique glue about it that keeps everyone together. I love the management, and I love the chef and the team. There is so much activity here, especially in the dining scene. They give me the freedom to create whatever I want, and I have a lot of ideas running through my head! I learn every day I am here, and I like to find new beautiful ways to present my pastries, cakes, and desserts for the members and guests. I love testing new products, and am always looking for something new. I look for different shapes and different colors.
GK: Tell us about Norman Love.
Norman Love is the founder of the renowned Norman Love Confections. We have Norman Love chocolates in our boutique. I was fortunate to visit Norman Loves factory, and I took some classes there, and especially enjoyed creating the chocolate towers and small desserts. It was a fantastic challenge to be there, and it was great to meet Chef Love.
GK: What is your favorite pastry?
My favorite pastry, and surprisingly I personally am not a big fan of chocolate; rather I like everything that is made with fresh fruit. I like pies, mousses with fresh peaches, strawberries, and mango; we do a lot of different mousse flavors here. Everything I do here is made from scratch. I like to use the best quality ingredients and whatever is natural. You will not find a lot of artificial ingredients in my desserts.
GK: What do the members say about your pastries and desserts?
When we create many of our buffets, the members often tell me how much they love my pastries, and they can’t believe some of the desserts I create as they have never experienced anything like them before. I have been to so many places, and I don’t see as many beautiful creations like what we do here at Boca West.
GK: Do you play golf?
The first time I played golf was at Madden’s on Gull Lake in Minnesota. I was working at an event there. They had three or four golf courses at that time and I fell in love with golf. I have not played at Boca West, I wanted to play this summer but had missed
the classes. I want to learn so I can compete in the staff tournament we have here every year.
GK: Tell us what your plans are in the future.
My dream is to continually improve and find as many new things as I can to present to our members. I want to continue to create new designs; I love the beauty I can create with pastry and dessert. I strive for perfection in everything I do. I have been
working in pastry since I was 14 and I never get tired of it; I am 36 now. In the future, I would love to have my own store!
GK: Tell us about your love of fishing and why your nickname is Seabass.
In Romania, as a child, we went fishing a lot, and when I came to the USA, everything was so different. I like fishing, and sea
bass is my favorite fish. They probably combined that with my name Sebastian, Chef calls me Seabass all the time [laughs]. I
like fly fishing too, but in Florida, there is not very much of that going on. Here I love to fish in the ocean, sometimes I take a boat
out, and sometimes I fish from the pier. We catch bluefish, mackerel, dolphin fish (Mahi-mahi), king fish, and red snapper.For me however, sea bass is the most beautiful fish and very tasty.
~ by Diana DeLucia
Profiteroles, recipe by Sebastian Motoasca. Image by Diana Delucia.