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Monday, March 18, 2013

Mod-Asian Food & Beverage Fest with the Morimoto Napa Heroes

Slow Living welcomes back the delightful Chef Kang Kuan to the airwaves, with Beverage Director, Eduardo Dingler.  Hear their joys and challenges selecting wine and other beverages for the eclectic food of Morimoto, and bringing Morimoto to the very wine-centric Napa Valley's tastes.  We'll also hear from one of their featured winemakers, Keith Emerson of Vineyard 29.

Wine, Food and "Life" Q and A:

We posed each of our guests with some personal questions.  Enjoy their entertaining responses!

1. What is your most memorable food and wine pairing occasion?

Kang: It was a meal at the French Laundry, and drinking a 73 magnum of Krug Champagne left from a lunch buy out.

Eduardo: While working on a dinner for the UN Secretary General, Chef Kang and I had the task of matching a dish with Staglin chardonnay. Thanks to Chef's creative abilities, he made a traditional Japanese fish, Akamatsu, small buttery and meaty, which he baked in salt and finished it with a shelfish and butter sauce. That moment when the dish and wine hit the palate was like fireworks going off. It is not easy to work with a California, robust chardonnay, but in this occasion, was very successful.
2. What is your favorite relaxed night at home food and beverage pairing?

Kang: Chicken Parmesan, and nice bottle of pinot...something like a bottle of Flowers

Eduardo: Grilled Carne Asada (thin flank steak), house made salsa, corn, eggplant and artichokes with a glass of Massican 'Annia' white blend, Napa Valley, a glass of Poe 'Angel Camp' Pinot Noir and a glass of Chateau Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape, all side by side, back and forth. The time of the year or weather doesn't matter.
3. What beverages and foods are always in your fridge and cupboard ie staples?

Kang: PBR, Siracha sauce, and some weird Chinese ingredients that I seem to never be able to get rid of like fermented tofu and bean paste.

Eduardo: A bottle of Sake, Gruner Veltliner, sparkling water, grapefruit, arugula, carrots, apples, almond milk - the main food groups. The rest just fills in.
4. What is your favorite weekend getaway?

Kang:  My backyard on the sofa or sitting in my home built green house.

Eduardo: A day in San Francisco or the beach with the kids is as good as it gets - never a dull moment.
5. What is your favorite International destination?

Mazatlan Beach, Mexico
Kang:Oludanez, Turkey.
Eduardo: I like Mazatlan, Mexico. It’s a familiar place where I grew up, and have been going with about 50 of my family members every summer.

6. What do you do to switch off, relax, take time out?

Kang:  Cycling, gardening and tearing my house apart.  I leave a project open for a few months until my wife goes crazy. Ask me about my awning in my backyard!

Eduardo:  Whenever time allows, I play music. My childhood friend Luis, who is a talented musician, and me have a small ongoing project. I also enjoy running by the river on a daily basis, there is something very peaceful about seeing the water while listening to jazz.

Nai Kang Kuan
Executive Chef, Morimoto Napa
Chef Kang was born on July 1, 1973 in the city of Taipei amongst the hustle and bustle of 2.6 million people living in apartments and high rise condos.  He lived a happy but unremarkable childhood except for immigration to United States when he was twelve years old.  He moved into a house located next to the home Marilyn Monroe died in, in the upscale town of Brentwood, Los Angeles with his mom and an Italian heritage stepfather. To say the he had a bad case of culture shock is an understatement.
Initially graduating with a Masters Degree in Environmental Toxicology at the school of Medicine in University of Cincinnati, Chef Kang decided to turn to his long time hobby, cooking.  After working in many restaurants in Cincinnati and Ontario Canada, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, where he met his future wife on day one, and went on to a restaurant fellowship after graduation.  He has worked for CMC Rudy Speckemp in Baltimore Maryland, and Fabio Trabocchi of the famed Maestro at Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner, and Fiamma in New York City, then The French Laundry in Yountville California where he worked for Thomas Keller, Cory Lee, and Tim Hollingsworth, staying for five years, rising from the ranks of commis to sous chef. 
Kang was offered the opportunity to join the Morimoto team in October, 2010, which he accepted in March 2011 after giving French Laundry a five months notice out of respect and gratitude.  He has since then moved on from the Executive sous chef position to assuming the full responsibility of the Culinary operation.
Kang’s insight in East Asian cuisine, his formal training in French techniques, and his diverse and talented staff continue in executing Chef Morimoto’s signature style.

Green Tea Truffle on Grape Vine

Eduardo Dingler
Beverage Director, Morimoto International
Assistant General Manager, Morimoto Napa
Eduardo Dingler was born in Mexico.  He began his career working in some of Napa Valley's most successful restaurants where his passion for wine and food ignited. Guided  by one of his mentors, he was hired as Beverage Director/ Manager at Morimoto Napa, where he gained his certification as a Sommelier with the Guild of Master Sommeliers as well as a Sake Specialist with the World Sake Council. Recently Eduardo assumed the position of Beverage Director for Morimoto Restaurants at an International level, as well as being the restaurant’s Assistant General Manager.


Offerings from the Morimoto crew - sushi, and edible "rocks, sand and moss" on a grapevine!

Keith Emerson - Director of Winemaking 

Keith Emerson joined Vineyard 29 as Director of Winemaking in 2005 charged with managing and directing the production of Vineyard 29’s portfolio, including sister labels Aida and Cru. As director of winemaking, Emerson oversees all wine programs for Vineyard 29’s ultra-premium custom crush clientele as well. The opportunity to interact with Napa Valley’s esteemed growers and winemakers has been an integral part of his professional development.  

Emerson obtained his Enology and Viticulture degree from the University of California at Davis in 1999. After a year at Cakebread Cellars, he accepted an enologist position with Sonoma’s historical Gundlach Bundschu Winery. Emerson quickly excelled to assistant winemaker, soon after was named associate winemaker and became solely responsible for Gundlach Bundschu’s second label, Block 13. The Block 13 program enabled Emerson to cultivate his own personal style of wine and gave him valuable experience in developing a wine brand from the ground up. 
In March 2004, Emerson traveled to Martinborough, New Zealand to work for Palliser Estate Wines. For him, the experience of working a vintage in the southern hemisphere was remarkable. In 2005 Emerson continued to raise the bar when he and his colleague, Brian Brown, began work on their very own artisan label, Emerson Brown.
Today, Emerson also makes wine for Robert Craig Winery on Howell Mountain, Knighton Family Vineyards in Calistoga, Leaf + Twig in St. Helena and is now back at the helm at both Gundlach Bundschu and Bartholomew Park Winery in Sonoma. In 2009, Emerson and his wife, Stacey, launched their Shea Vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir brand, Sonrίa, which he hand crafts at Vineyard 29’s state of the art facility.

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