The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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With customers and their brands in mind, Phillips and the team at Southern Glazer's rely on Executive Chef Benoit Cornet, who oversees all food-related activations for the distributor. Cornet explains that the Southern Glazer's focus on food was intentional: "Fifteen years ago [SGWS of Nevada General Manager Larry Ruvo] had our current building drawn to leave a significant amount of space for our kitchen and entertainment purposes. Thanks to him, I have the biggest office on the property, and to this day, we are the only SGWS house to have a fully staffed professional kitchen." "Having an onsite chef allows us to create menus that will complement the beverage education we are offering, especially when demonstrating some of the principles of food and wine pairing," continues Phillips. "These experiences give our sales team knowl- edge to help them sell our products and allow the members of the somme- lier community to experience unique interactions between food, wine, beer, sprits and cocktails." To flesh out those experiences, Cornet's approach is slightly different from the average chef's. "You can call it backwards or reversed, but we are first and foremost a wine and spirits distributing company, therefore those are usually picked long before the menu. Most of our wine events are more intimate and call for sit-down settings. We put a lot of attention into those pairings, so I usually ask our Master Sommeliers for direction on what characteristics my dishes need to show in order to make our product shine," says Cornet. Agrees Phillips, "We often need to create a menu to match specific wines from a single winery or supplier, which can be a challenge, especially when working with a flight of full-bodied red wines," says Phillips. "Through collabo- ration and discussion, we often come up with ways to make soups, salads and other light appetizers friendlier to the wines we have to work with. One of the more memorable collaborations was when we wanted to do an actual dessert course, rather than a cheese course with red Bordeaux blend from California. By adjusting sugar and salt content, we came up with a chocolate and nut dessert which still tasted like dessert, but did not fight with the wine." It is the spirit of collaboration that allows Cornet to create intimate tasting lunches and large-scale educations alike, but Cornet's day-to-day at SGWS also includes covering the basics. "From our driver's appreciation breakfast served at 4 a.m. to late-night tastings and business lunches in between, we serve our company as an asset for all of our teams to perform at their very best," says Cornet. Braised oxtail and foie gras dome with black truffle jus, paired with Gramercy Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. Pan-seared scallops, corn pudding, warm brown butter and chive vinaigrette paired with the Wittmann 2014 Westhofener Riesling Trocken. Chef Benoit Cornet displays the assorted artisan chocolates made in-house using spirit brands in the SGWS portfolio. assorted using put pairings, so I usually ask usually ask usually our Sommeliers for direction on characteristics my dishes my dishes my need order to says Cornet. Phillips, between, company asset for all of our of our of teams to perform at their very best," very best," very says Cornet. my to make our product Cornet. Phillips, "We often need to Chef Benoit Cornet displays the assorted artisan chocolates made in-house using spirit brands in the SGWS portfolio. august 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  99

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