Author Archives: Ommegang

Interview with Chef James Sanders of Brickyard

Chef James Sanders

Chef James Sanders
Executive Chef of Brickyard Gastropub
785 Ninth Avenue NY NY 10019

Brief Bio: After graduating with a degree in Culinary Arts from the New York Art Institute (formerly New York Restaurant School) in 1997 he then went on to receive a bachelor’s in hotel, restaurant and institutional management from Weidner University. Chef James has refined his skills as the sous chef at LaGriglia and as the Executive Chef of the Meyersville Inn. Sanitation, proper techniques and kitchen management have been guiding principles throughout his career. Maintaining a strong focus on local, organic and sustainable cooking has always been a passion. As Executive Chef at Brickyard Gastropub he has used this focus to pair both great food with great beer. One such item is Ommegang Abbey braised short ribs with both the braising liquid and the finished sauce containing the caramel noted Abbey.

Why is the pairing of food & beer important to you? I feel beer can be paired with food even more appropriately than wine. There are a lot more flavor profiles to work with and it complement so many different styles of food.
What got you started on pairing food & beer? Really, the craft beer movement. I started to look at beer differently. There have always been great beers out there but I feel like it’s much more pronounced now.

Who are the chefs you admire? Eric Ripert, Andre Soltner

What are some of your favorite pairings? Porters with desserts and wheat beers with citrus salads or fish

Favorite style / beer to pair with? I’m open to all styles….it just needs to work with the food

Favorite all time beer? Too hard to say…Craft Beers are evolving and developing new flavors all the time…really hard to settle on just one.
Feature dish in which you pair beer with food or use beer in preparing the dish? One such item is Ommegang Abbey braised short ribs with both the braising liquid and the finished sauce containing the caramel noted Abbey.

Thoughts on the future of food & beer in fine dining? I think this will be more than a trend…beer naturally lends itself to food. As more and more people are exposed to it, it will continue to grow

Favorite restaurant in a city not your own? The Mansion @ Turtle Creek, Dallas TX

Ommegang Abbey Braised Short Ribs
4 8-10oz Short Ribs
1 Bunch Celery
2 Yellow Onion
4 Carrots Peeled
1 Gal Beef Stock
1 Gal Ommegang Abbey
1 Cup Fresh Herbs (use herb you like)
¼ Cooking Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:Salt and pepper the short ribs. In a large pot brown the short ribs. Once browned remove and let rest. In the same pot add remaining oil. Add medium diced onion, carrots, celery and cook until slightly browned. Add Ommegang Abbey and beef stock and fresh herbs. Place short ribs in liquid and braise on a low heat (slight simmer) until a knife will go through the short rib with ease. Let rest and slice. Reduce cooking liquid by half and puree in a blender. Taste for seasoning.

Interview with Chef Luther Fedora of the Horse and Hound Gastropub

Chef Luther Fedora

Luther Fedora
Chef / Owner of Horse & Hound Gastropub
625 West Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Brief Bio: Chef Luther and his wife Brooke Fedora are the founders of the Horse and Hound. Both Brooke and Luther trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Luther followed that training up with several years in London working as a chef, as well as serving as a sommelier for classic London spots such as the Savoy and Drones.

Why is the pairing of food & beer important to you? It is a lot of fun, it helps to inspire new combinations of flavors that you may not have thought of and there are so many amazing beers to choose from that can live up to great food.

What got you started on pairing food & beer? My wife and I opened up a Gastropub in Charlottesville, we are really into beer and have 12 draught options that rotate on a regular basis. We work hard to get different, small production beers that no one else is selling. This type of atmosphere lends itself to beer and food pairing.

Who are the chefs you admire? Marco Pierre White & Gordon Ramsey

What are some of your favorite pairings? This depends on my mood but I will say that Chimay Bleue 2008 Grande Réserve paired with roasted chestnuts, formager d’affinois specialty double-crème, fig jam & a fresh baguette will blow your mind. This is something we discovered a few years ago but I keep coming back to it. My wife also made a Plum Crisp with black pepper mousse & Fuller’s Vintage Ale which was spectacular.

Favorite style / beer to pair with? I tend to favor Belgium styles like Mardesous Triple or Malheur 12 but I am really happy to work with lots of different styles of beer.

Favorite all time beer? This really does depend on my mood. I can’t say I have a favorite. I just love and appreciate good beer and appreciate what a light beer like Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison can taste like on a hot afternoon or how Schneider Aventinus Eisbock can warm you up and pairs really well with chocolate.

Feature dish in which you pair beer with food or use beer in preparing the dish? I made a dish called Flemish Carbonnade which was slow braised beef in Obamagang ale & prunes, smashed red bliss potatoes, & roasted vegetables. This dish was outstanding! It was rich and full of flavor.

Thoughts on the future of food & beer in fine dining? I think this type of pairing has begun to catch on and a lot more restaurants will be exploring this.

Favorite restaurant in a city not your own? Marcel’s in Washington D.C. and for beer I love Belgo in London.

Wellshire Black Forest Bacon wrapped Dates stuffed with Union Jack IPA pine nut butter and soaked in Firestone Walker Brewing Company Union Jack IPA

Yield: serves 6
18 dates (dried & pitted)
9 slices Wellshire Black Forest bacon
1 cup pine nuts
2 cups 2 Tablespoons Union Jack IPA beer
Salt & pepper

1) Soak dates in 2 cups IPA beer overnight
2) Blend pine nuts in Cuisinart until creamy
3) Add pinch of salt & pepper, 2 T IPA beer
4) Place pine nut butter in small zip lock & pipe mix into soaked dates
5) Wrap dates in ½ piece of bacon each & skewer with a tooth pick
6) Bake dates in oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden & crispy
7) Serve warm & with Union Jack IPA beer

Note: Be creative any bacon, nut or beer can be substituted in this recipe

We do beer dinners a lot and truly enjoy the creativity that beer allows. Check out our latest beer pairing that we put together for Charlottesville’s July 2011 Restaurant week on our website at

Interview with Mathew Molloy of Meadhall

Mathew Molloy
Executive Chef of Meadhall
4 Cambridge Center
Cambridge MA 02142

Brief Bio I am a native of St. Louis, and was introduced to cooking early. Both of my grandmothers were exceptional cooks — some of my warmest memories originated cooking alongside them… the wonder of transformation when making a mayonnaise and the simplicity of kneading bread dough, then watching it rise in the oven. I studied history on the way to a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Missouri. Cooking along the way and studying under several nationally known chefs, my watershed cooking moment occurred during an extended stage at Le Bernardin in New York.My passion for French cuisine led me to a seven year stint, and position of Chef de Cuisine, at the James Beard Award-Nominated Michael Leviton’s restaurant Lumière, in Newton, MA. In July 2010, I took my first job as Executive Chef at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro in Boston. When the opportunity to open Meadhall, a restaurant that combines my love of local, seasonal ingredients, and craft beers, I jumped at the chance. My culinary style is simple and unpretentious, with a continuing emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and flavors in every dish that I create.

Why is the pairing of food & beer important to you? I find that beer often pairs better with food than the more traditional wine pairing. With the broad range of styles and excellent brewers focusing on small batch, quality ingredients and taking some risk on style, there are so many great flavor profiles to work with. I also enjoy the challenge of getting the foodies who normally drink wine to try a dish paired with beer as well as the uphill battle to get beer drinkers who respect quality in beer to also respect the quality in food and the pairing. With its somewhat humble connotation, the right beer pairing can transform even a simple dish into something sublime.

What got you started on pairing food & beer? I started to get into craft beers several years ago. For me, on a cooks salary, I was able to sample some really excellent craft beers, produced by local artisan brewers, much easier than say focusing on wine, which often carries with it a bit more mystery, as well as a higher price tag.

Who are the chefs you admire? The chefs I most admire on a national stage include Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert and Tom Collicchio. Local chefs I admire include Jason Bond and Michael Leviton.

What are some of your favorite pairings? Chocolate and Imperial Stouts. Locally caught Swordfish with a Farmhouse Saison or a Witbier. Amber Ale with housemade veal bratwurst.

Favorite style / beer to pair with? I like to use a range of styles to pair with food. For lighter dishes I tend to enjoy Saisons or Belgian Whites with the yeasty notes and subtle spicing…for heavier dishes a balanced IPA works best for me.

Favorite all time beer? I cannot possibly answer this question. For me it depends on the season and the whim. My favorite style is usually trending towards the Belgian Tripel style. Lately though, I have frequently been enjoying Schneider Aventinus, a wheat Doppelbock.

Feature dish in which you pair beer with food or use beer in preparing the dish? Currently on our menu we offer a baked to order soft pretzel with some house made stout mustard and a beer and Vermont cheddar fondue. We were using BBC’s Saint of Circumstance IPA to make the cheddar fondue. The combination of the mustard elements, the cheddar, and the smoky herbal nature of the beer was a homerun.

Thoughts on the future of food & beer in fine dining? I think this is truly a yet-to-be-discovered area (for many) that will only increase in popularity. More incredible craft beers are becoming available to the general public, and gaining in popularity with all different types of consumers. There is still a little bit of a mentality with the general public that food paired with beer should be restrained to your typical pub fare. I believe that with its great versatility and the interaction of flavors between the food and drink, beer can be paired with fine cuisine with more creativity than wine. As a chef who tries to feature small farm local ingredients in my menus as much as possible, the same principals of terroir can be applied to beer, given the widespread proliferation of craft brewers out there now.

Favorite restaurant in a city not your own? My favorite restaurant continues to be Gramercy Tavern in New York City. The food is outstanding, locally sourced, and approachable. The feel of the restaurant is a casual elegance that is very welcoming for a casual meal at the bar or an anniversary dinner in the dining room.

2c water
1 1/2 t yeast dry active
1T brown sugar
2t salt
2T melted butter
1pound 14 oz bread flour
Baking Soda Solution: 4 qt. water 3 oz (volume) baking soda 1 oz (volume)
kosher salt

Combine water, brown sugar and yeast in the mixing bowl. Allow yeast to bloom 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, and salt, in that order. Knead with a dough hook on low speed for 5-7 minutes until dough is elastic and supple. Allow to rise at room temperature (or under refrigeration overnight) until double in size.Punch down and scale fermented dough to 3 1/2 oz portions Roll into ropes. Go back to first rope and roll to 18 in. and shape into pretzel. Boil for one min on each side in baking soda this stage you can cool and refrigerate. When ready to bake brush with egg wash and season with coarse sea salt. Bake at 400 for 10 to 15 minuets

Beer and Cheddar Fondue
For the Bechemel:
4 c Milk
2 bay leaves
2 thick slices onion
4 scratches nutmeg
3 oz butter
12 T Flour

Bring the Milk, bay leaves, onion, and nutmeg up to a simmer. Set aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make a roux with the butter and flour. Strain Milk mixture into the roux. Bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper. Strain through the chinois.

For the Mornay:
Add 300g grated Cheddar, off the heat. Liason in 4 beaten egg yolks (beaten with 2 T Milk). Season this mixture with
1T dry mustard powder
1 T Dijon 3 T Worcestershire sauce
½ t cayenne
Strain through the chinois and chill rapidly. For the Fondue:The mornay will be very thick. Reheat with 1/3 part of Saint of Circumstance IPA. Reseason if necessary. Hold in a bain-marie or serve immediately.

Interview with Tommy Harder of Blind Tiger Alehouse

Chef Tommy Harder

Tommy Harder
Executive Chef
Blind Tiger Alehouse
281 Bleecker street
New York, NY 10014

Brief Bio Born in the farmlands of southern Idaho but grew up in the suburbs of Portland Oregon, Graduated from University of Oregon with degrees in business and psychology. Cooking, for me, started out as a hobby and a means for making ends meet and pay my way through college. It wasn’t until I was ending my days of academia that I decided to take my passions and turn cooking it into a career. So I attended Le Cordon Bleu’s Western Culinary Institute and started developing my skills under some of the great chefs in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to see the world so got set up in Club Med resorts which took me to Florida, and The Caribbean, before setting my sites on New York. After a few months I found myself at the doorstep of Blind Tiger Alehouse. I have backgrounds in over six different cuisines including French, Italian, thai, Japanese and American

Why is the pairing of food & beer important to you? For one, Flavor, Plain and simple. Beer has always taken a back seat to wine when asked to pair with a dish in fine dining restaurants, and yet the different flavors produced by the different styles of beer are more consistent compatibilities with the food I enjoy and grew up eating like burgers, pizza, Mexican food, Asian food, cheese, and barbeque. Plus I like beer, grew up in rural America where it’s more a part of life than wine and spirits. When talking about any food and beverage pairing, it’s said “ if it grows together it goes together.” Foods like cheese, which comes from animals that are fed grains and hints of these flavors come out in the dairy products, grown in mountainous regions, beer being produced from grain grown in similar regions of the world has a natural pairing, better than fruits grown in coastal valleys, or imported from countries half way around the world. Plus, I even had a hand in the production of beer helping out on my dad’s farm in Idaho as a teenager harvesting barley, wheat, and other grains which then went to making beer. Beer is more personally connected to me, and my family’s way of life. I have worked in breweries back in college and restaurants that had a major focus on beer, and even had over hundreds of taps featuring micro breweries all across the Northwest and world back in my days in Portland, Oregon, a city that boasts having more breweries than any other city per capita. At the end of a long day, I am more likely to reach for a cold one in the fridge. Since food is the main focus in my life, I am always focused on the balance of flavors in any dish, and have to always take into consideration how the food will react to what people drink whether it’s a spirit, wine, or beer. It’s wise to understand all possible pairings and not limit one’s enjoyment to just what a sommelier would recommend.

What got you started on pairing food & beer? Well it was something talked about in culinary school as well as wine pairings, but more recently, in my professional life while consulting at a beer and cheese shop in Hell’s Kitchen, It was something that customers were seeking out on a daily basis. So starting with just how different cheeses went with different beer styles took on a different form when I starting focusing on all kinds of food and different cuisines of the world, and pairing with beer.

Who are the chefs you admire? I admire chefs that have a lot of passion for giving people good food and that this something seen through there cuisine. Some who have had a major impact on my cooking are Chefs like Rick Bayless, Ming Tsi, and Thomas Keller, who I spent my free time reading there cookbooks as I commuted between jobs and home in my earlier, struggling culinary artists years. Plus chef who are not well known or have celebrity status, but were mentors of mine, and help shape and fuel my passion for food were chefs like Pascal Sauton of Carafe French Bistro or Marcus Anthony Bynum.

What are some of your favorite pairings? Cheese and beer. Age gouda like Black Knight, or Beemster X.O., or roaring forties blue cheese with a nice stout or porter.

Favorite style / beer to pair with? Sours, and Saisons. They open the door to bring sweet and savory flavors together, and have ability to bring harmony to a dish pairing, taking a dish and having elements of heat, saltiness, and adding sweet elements like fruit compotes and such. Once paired with a sour beer then you having all the tastes present at the dinner table.

Favorite all time beer? Total domination IPA from Ningasi Brewery in Springfield, Oregon.

Feature dish in which you pair beer with food or use beer in preparing the dish? Pilsner brined chicken wings, or brown ale braised pulled pork, then take the braising liquid and turn it into brown ale gravy.

Thoughts on the future of food & beer in fine dining? It is the future, the restaurants that incorporate beer repertoire in the sommelier’s arsenal are the ones that are going to be in the restaurants that everyone talks about.

Favorite restaurant in a city not your own? Carafe French Bistro, Portland, Oregon. One of the best burgers I ever had and being a former employee, I ever had a hand in producing. It is a restaurant that features only seasonal products grown in local organic farms surrounding Portland.

Recipe- Pilsner brined hot wings.
1 gallon of choice pilsner beer or any light colored flavorful artisan beer.
1 cup of salt
Chicken wings or chicken pieces
Mix salt and beer together in a large container; be cautious as it will cause the beer to become foamy and possibly over flow. Pour over top of meat and cover with plastic wrap. Place bags of ice or a large plate and weigh down so that the chicken remains submerged for three hours. If the chicken pieces are small they can get too salty if they are brined for too long. Drain and allow the chicken to dry and sit for thirty minute or more so that the juices will infuse into the meat. If you roast or cook too quickly, all the beer will leach out during the cooking process. Place the chicken pieces on an oven rack and on top of a sheet tray and roast at 350 degrees until the chicken forms a brown skin and is cooked all the way through, or reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees. Take the wings and toss them with your favorite hot sauce, dip in some blue cheese dressing to counter the heat and enjoy.

Interview with Bart Vandaele of Belga Cafe

Chef Bart Vandaele

Bart Vandaele
Belga Cafe
514 8th Street Southeast
Washington D.C., DC 20003

With his European flare and rambunctious personality, Belgium native Bart Vandaele has taken D.C. by storm since opening up his wildly popular Belga Café in 2004. As Executive Chef and Owner of the District’s original Belgian café, Vandaele, who was recognized as a Rising Star of 2006 by, has successfully melded the rich culinary traditions of his homeland with the comfortable, relaxed attitude of Barracks Row in this neighborhood gathering place.

In 2009, Chef Bart received the honor of ‘Knighthood’ by the Museum of Belgian Brewers and the Brewers Guild of Belgium given in recognition of his devotion and passion to educate his guests through Belga Café on Capitol Hill in Washington, about the hundreds of breweries, their history and brewing techniques in his homeland, Belgium. Additionally, Belga Café received the accolade of ‘Beer Bar of the Year’ by Cheers magazine in 2010.

Raised in the Flemish-speaking region of North Belgium, Vandaele developed a passion for the kitchen at a very young age. Surrounded by family members active in the industry, including café managers, butchers, chefs and restaurant owners, Vandaele began his training early in life, citing that even as a toddle his favorite playground was the kitchen. The largest influence on young Vandaele came from his chef-father, whom created traditional, regional Belgian cuisine in his own innovative and unique style at the family’s restaurant. With a strong culinary presence at home and an abundance of local, fresh ingredients, Vandaele decided to embark on a culinary career at the young age of 12, the typical age Belgium school children choose the profession they plan to pursue. As part of his schooling, Vandaele received culinary training at the Culinary Institute for Restaurant and Hotel Management in Brugge, Belgium, where he embarked on a six-year program of academics and culinary externships, learning a multitude of skills, ranging from culinary techniques to managerial skills to business operations.

In addition to years of formal training, Candaele gained much of his knowledge, drive and creativity through his experiences in some of Europe’s top fine dining locales. Working at renowned Belgian restaurants such as Piet Huysentruyt and Restaurant Scholteshof, of which received two Michelin stars while Vandaele served as Sous Chef under respected Chef Roger Sourereyns. Here, he honed his craft as well as expanded his knowledge and passion for the profession. Working his way up through the culinary ranks in these competitive kitchens for over seven years, Vandaele discovered bold, vibrant flavor combinations, the fusion of traditional Belgium cuisine with international fare and a close comradery amongst his peers.

Recommended by Huysentruyt, Vandaele’s next career move brought him to America’s capital, where he served as Executive Chef for the European Union’s head diplomat to the United States, followed by the position of Executive Chef at the Dutch Embassy. In the midst of the District’s political society, he concocted dishes for some of D.C.’s elite, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, H.E. Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and former United Nation’s Secretary General Kofi Annan. But it was moving forward on his own with the conception and creation of Belga Café that proved to be Vandaele’s biggest challenge. Inspired to bring D.C a bit of his homeland, Vandaele wanted to establish a place that elevated and expanded the common American conception of Belgian cuisine.

While still highlighting dishes commonly associated with the streets of Brussels, such as waffles, mussels and frites, Belga Café enhances the flavors and introduces the 8th Street to more exotic flavors from his native land as well as creating a warm, friendly and energetic space the resembles the European’s attitude and enthuses guests. At Belga there are only two rules that Vandaele enforces: nothing goes to waste and everyone is family.

Their motto is clearly the underlying factor in the menu as guests dine n delicious dishes such as Vlaamse Reus (leg of rabbit with Rodenbach beer) or ‘Belga’ Heilbot (halibut poached in Kasteel Brown beer with asparagus, mushrooms, crispy pancetta and Belgium’s famous baby gray shrimp). In addition to the tasty plates coming from the kitchen, Vandaele ensures guest will think they are visiting a European beer garden when looking at the extensive beer list, featuring Belga’s special beer cocktails as well as popular Belgian brews including Delirium, Duvel and Kwak Pauwel. Vandaele oversees his vast menu of over 150 different beers.

Most recently, Vandaele has been selected as a National Brand Ambassador for the Belgium brews Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe Blond, and Leffe Brown. Based on the celebration of Belgian flavors, Vandaele is the perfect candidate for this position, who has long been influenced by the renowned beers, often utilizing the different flavors in his food, and his goal of bringing the idiosyncrasies of Belgium cuisine and culture to the States.

Nearing its sixth anniversary, Belga Café and Vandaele have provided D.C. with a necessary balance of food, international flare and fun. A dining room that is constantly filled with couples, families and friends, Belga and Vandaele has become ingrained in this Barracks Row community making it a culinary destination. The key to his triumphs, quite simple according to Vandaele, “We do nothing the ‘normal way’ here. We do it the Belga way. And that way focuses on comfort, simplicity and success.”