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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

4/19 - FRENCH FINESSE: Jean-Pierre Vincent of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne & Matthew McDonald of Bouchon Bakery

Jean-Pierre Vincent
April 19, 2011 was a Slow Living Radio celebration of French finesse with Jean-Pierre Vincent of the Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and Matthew McDonald of Bouchon Bakery and the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.

Jean-Pierre Vincent’s career is linked eternally to that of the Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. A tireless master of the harvest, the Cellar Master has never ceased to dream, innovate, and create. Drawing from his profound understanding of his craft, he has produced a complete line of inimitable wines that all true gourmets must count with today. However, Vincent’s path was far from preordained.While born and raised in Paris, one thing alone was certain: Jean-Pierre loved nature. Early on, choosing a path in agricultural industry opened the doors to the Water and Forestry School, now known as ENGREF (National School of Technology for Life, Food, and Environmental Sciences).

“I would have been happy to roam the forests of Fontainebleau on horseback,
he says, laughing.  After a few mishaps and trials, Jean-Pierre looked at all
possible options for careers close to nature. When he stumbled upon the Enology program, he did not hesitate: here was the perfect opening! But there was a glitch: there was no enology school in Rheims, where his fiancĂ©e workedas a nurse. After much research, the future bride called with the good news: there is a possibility to take classes from the “city of the crowns,” ensuring that Jean-Pierre would not have to leave Champagne ever again. Two days after his marriage, celebrated June 26, 1976, he was on his honeymoon as the internships at the different Champagne Houses were assigned.  

Beyond the number itself and the measurable accomplishment, these 500,000,000 bottles produced to date represent a strong milestone and send a clear message. First and foremost, it gives the current picture of a typical Cellar Master’s career, that of Jean-Pierre Vincent and represents the symbol of a house, Nicolas Feuillatte, which has legitimately earned its place in the pantheon of Champagne production. These 500,000,000 bottles correspond to 32 harvests and 32 years of know-how, innovation, creation, and improvements reflected in the complete range of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. This achievement is also the mark of a success story, owing much to the deep understanding of terroir,which has yielded a house style beloved the world over. It speaks of the quality of the Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte cuvees, recognized by sommeliers and culinary professionals, and decorated with awards in innumerable tastings by critics in France and abroad.

Matthew McDonald, CMB
Matthew McDonald, CMB - As Executive Bread Baker for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Matthew McDonald oversees and coordinates all aspects of bread production throughout TKRG’s bakeries and restaurants.  Blending traditional techniques with a depth of knowledge in the science of bread making, McDonald bakes hand-crafted breads from ingredients that meet both his and Chef Keller’s exacting standards.  Based at the original Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, CA McDonald directly oversees the production of breads for The French Laundry, Bouchon and Ad Hoc as well as Bouchon Bakery’s considerable wholesale operations.

McDonald is a Certified Master Baker (CMB), received his certification in 1998, and was part of the Bread Bakers Guild of Americas’ Baking Team USA that placed in the finals in both 1999 and 2002. McDonald was drawn to baking by his earliest inspirations—his mother and grandmother. Later, he considered Tom McMahon, the founder of the Bread Baker’s Guild of America as well as Master Baker Didier Rosada, to be his most formative mentors.

McDonald has worked in various aspects of the industry for the past 15 years: as baker for Artisan Bakers in Sonoma, CA; as a baking and pastry instructor at the National Baking Center in Minneapolis, MN; and as Vice President of Operations for Hudson Bread South in Cherry Hill, NJ. Most recently, he was Director of Wholesale Operations for the Willo Baking Company in Phoenix, AZ.    ###