5 Fun Facts About Wine

5 Fun Facts About Wine (You Never Knew)

We often hear that wine is a great source of antioxidants and may have positive heart-health effects. And it seems there’s always some new study suggesting wine is good for us in surprising ways. In my years of experience in the food and wine industry, there have been lots of facts about wine thrown at me. Here are five of my favorites.

There is no difference between red wine and white wine…

Aside from the fact that the skins of red wine grapes are kept on during the winemaking process, while white wine grape skins are removed. To this day, when I meet a new winemaker, I still feel compelled to verify that fact. It blows my mind that such a slight variable in a simple process creates a whole new taste and product.

Aging wine in oak was originally for practical purposesnot taste.

Winemakers transitioned their wine storage from clay pottery with lids, to palm wood barrels, and then to oak because oak is softer and easier to bend. Wood barrels were also far easier to transport for troops. Later, they started toasting the barrels with vanilla, cloves and cinnamon for added flavor profiles. Wine was actually safer to drink than water due to contamination and accessibility.

Wine continues to age and decay with oxygen.

To savor the wine a few days longer and prevent it from going bad, I have found that fancy gadgets are not necessary. Simply place the unpoured wine into a smaller container to reduce the amount of oxygen trapped in the bottle and seal with a lid. That’s it! I prefer to save a half-size wine bottle and reuse it, but sometimes good old Tupperware has been the answer.

Prince Charles drives an Aston Martin completely powered by wine.

It guzzles an incredible 4.5 bottles of wine per mile driven. Look up a video of this and watch people’s reactions–you won’t be disappointed!

Grapes ferment themselves. 

Anyone can make wine with a little time–and grape juice. The fermentation process happens naturally with oxidation, which is why it is one of the most ancient beverages. In fact, historians think grapes may have been used to make the first beer as well.

If you want to delve even deeper into the fascinating world of wine, enlist The Austin Artisan’s boutique catering services for your very own wine pairing event! You’re sure to learn something new and find your favorite wine and food combination.

In the Mind of a Chef: Austin Events

I believe that in order to create and redefine food, you have to continually experience food in new and interesting ways. I take great pride is hosting events, and I also love to attend them. For me, it’s a way to enjoy my own passion, while fueling it at the same time.

In November, I was a guest at both the Sustainable Food Center’s (SFC) Chef Series Dinner and Driskill’s 4-Course Beer Pairing. Equally unique and inspiring, I took away some key details for our Boutique Catering and Personal Chef Services. Whether you’re a foodie, client or fellow culinary professional, I hope these musings from the “mind of a chef” will help you expand your limits in the kitchen—and beyond.

Here’s what I ate, noted and learned…

Reinvent the Classics

As a chef, I am constantly looking for that new spin or innovative take on a traditional dish. Both nights I was really happy to see just that. I really enjoyed Chef Jason Stude’s course at the SFC, featuring brown-butter potatoes, cabbage, onion, comeback sauce and caraway. He explained it was a derivative of the popular Rueben sandwich, presented differently. And he nailed it! If you closed your eyes, you were eating a Rueben. Very well played.

Make It Memorable

The hallmark of our Boutique Catering Service is to create a unique and memorable culinary experience. I achieve this through an interactive and personalized approach to the meal. Part of that is making sure we come out as each dish is served to discuss and describe it. During both events, the chefs came out of the kitchen to present their dishes. For me, this was a great opportunity to see what it’s like to be the guest, and also to see how other chefs talk about their food.

Be Bold

Frequently I’m asked to pair beer, wine or even spirits with my menus. At the SFC event, we enjoyed a well-matched wine pairing with our courses. At the Driskill dinner, the chefs partnered with Real Ale Brewing Co., and paired some great beers with their dishes. Both pairings were bold, but spot on. In fact, it’s not often you have an eclectic dining experience that goes from a Japanese Smoked Pheasant paired with Sake to a Mexican-style Javelin paired with an Italian Veronese.

Experience it for yourself…

Enjoy your own food event, wine pairing or cooking class with The Austin Artisan. We believe in crafting customized menus, sourcing fresh and seasonal ingredients and always upping the ante to bring you an unforgettable experience. Click here to learn more and to reserve your event. 

Eat Like a Billionaire (Without Spending a Fortune)

When you think about eating like a billionaire, what kind of images do you conjure in your mind? French wine, foie gras and olive oil dust? Escargot and ice cream with flecks of 14-karat gold? In other words, food that seems too far out of reach?

Well, I have a little secret to tell you… eating like a celebrity or CEO actually has nothing to do with money (or whether or not you can source snails). It has to do with creating an experience—and knowing a few key culinary tricks. As a chef, my mission is to redefine the way people think about food, because (to quote myself) it can set the tone, create the mood and evoke an emotion.

Despite what many believe about Personal Chefs, I actually don’t have a single client who brings in the billions. But my clients surely eat like they do! There’s an art to elevating and enjoying your food, which is accessible for everyone.

Your creativity is actually what enhances a meal and makes you feel like a star! So if you want to eat like a billionaire, here are some ways you can do it without spending a fortune:

Grow Fresh Herbs: Take an ordinary salad. Then add fresh basil and tomatoes from your garden. It totally enlivens the flavors. Grill up a steak and then prepare a simple Basil-Mint Chimichurri to transform a weeknight meal into a fine-dining experience. I’m telling you, it’s all about the right herbs. Read more about Why I Keep an Herb Garden here.

Learn About Sauces: There’s a reason you’re taught to prepare Mother Sauces in culinary school. The 5 French Mother Sauces are the foundation for all other sauces—they also help you raise the bar. Think eggs. Then think eggs with hollandaise sauce. Think lasagna. Then think Northern-style lasagna with béchamel sauce. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

Experiment With Science: Remember that Olive Oil Dust I mentioned? Well, it only contains 3 ingredients! Sometimes, adding that element of shock and awe is easier than you think. So in addition to sauces and herbs, create a masterful meal with Molecular Gastronomy. Click to get my Olive Oil Dust and Lemon Air recipes.

Set the table: How many of you pull out the paper plates and huddle around the TV? Okay, that’s fun when you’re watching a football game, but see how it feels to set your table with plates, forks, knives and cloth (eco-friendly) napkins. You may even want to pull out the Waterford glasses or champagne flutes that have been collecting dust since your wedding. Might as well use them! Not sure which fork goes where? Check out this blog post on How to Set a Table.

Shut off the TV: Like I said, grub and a game is one thing, but eating in front of the TV night after night distracts from the meal. So do phones, laptops and leftover work. Carve out at least 30-45 minutes of electronic-free time to eat, chew and savor each and every bite. You’ll be amazed at how differently you taste and digest your meals when you’re paying attention to them.

Ready to roll up your sleeves? The Austin Artisan Cooking Classes are coming soon, featuring Private Demonstrations, Interactive Cooking Classes and Cooking Competitions. From fine-dining recipes to mystery baskets, we’ll show you how the pros do it! Perfect for individuals, small groups and corporate team building. Contact us for more information.

Seafood Stew: We Saved the Best for Last

We’re wrapping up Seafood Month and ending with the mother of all recipes: Seafood Stew. In culinary terms, this can be easily defined as a fresh fish and shellfish dish cooked in a flavored broth. Instead of featuring just one variety, a stew utilizes a combination of seafood to create a dynamic and robust meal. Traditionally, the stew is comprised of the “catch of the day.”

Depending on where you live the catch may vary a bit. Inland you might not find as much variety as you would in coastal regions, like San Francisco and New England. But that’s the fun part. You can use what is most fresh and abundant in your area. I always recommend speaking with a knowledgeable fishmonger to help you out.

While the seafood takes center stage, the broth and style also make this meal really standout. Cioppino, which was said to have been made popular by Italian immigrants in San Francisco, is a preparation typically made with a tomato-and-wine-based broth. Of course, you can probably find recipes that are just made with tomatoes and stock, but we recommend this Cioppino from Epicurious (enhanced with dry red wine)  Please note, the accompanying focaccia or sourdough bread is non-negotiable!

Another delicious option is Bouillabaisse—a French preparation, starring seafood, vegetables and Provencal spices, served with rouille or rich sauce. The history is actually pretty cool: “Bouillabaisse was originally a stew made by Marseille fishermen using the bony rockfish which they were unable to sell to restaurants or markets.”  In other words, it was (and is) a great way to utilize the less popular fish and turn it into something outrageous. (And you know how much we appreciate sustainable solutions!) Another hit from Epicurious, be sure to put this Bouillabaisse recipe on this week’s menu.

We hope you enjoyed Seafood Month as much as we did. If you missed our previous posts, be sure to check out our Mussel and Shrimp  blogs to learn all of our top Chef Secrets. Then, give these summer Seafood dishes a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Personal Chef vs. Catering Chef

It’s largely believed that a chef is a chef. But it’s a common misconception that a Line Chef is also a Catering Chef and a Catering Chef is the same as a Personal Chef. Like lawyers and doctors, there are many different facets of the business.

It’s important to be able to make the distinction, because we all need at chef at some point in our lives. From a black-tie affair to a corporate meeting to your weekday meals, a professional chef can help you get the job done with ease. But to find the right chef, you have to know what to look for.

Whether you’re searching our site or Googling chefs in your area, these 3 common “Chef” terms and descriptions will help you hire the professional that’s perfect for you.

Personal Chef

A Personal Chef creates customized meals for individuals and families. They either cook in their clients’ homes or hire a commercial kitchen. All meals are prepared on the same day, so the clients simply reheat and eat throughout the week.

The Austin Artisans take care of all the details. We menu plan, grocery shop, and cook. We then deliver your food straight to your fridge. This service is great for busy people who want to get healthy meals on the table without all the fuss. We also service those who have trouble navigating special diets, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo.

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Private Chef

A Private Chef is usually employed by one person or family. They may prepare up to 3 meals per day and often serve the meals fresh. They may or may not live with the family or have a residency for a period of time.

Catering Chef

A Catering Chef prepares meals for a one-time affair. From weddings and graduations to BBQs and birthday dinners, a catering chef will usually provide a menu tailored to your specific event. They will make the food and deliver it to the venue or they may cook on-site.

Our Boutique Catering Service will help you handle (almost) everything. Our Artisans are a professional team of servers, bartenders, chefs, and support staff. We can even help you source the right china, barware, glassware, and linens.

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