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By Michelle Lowenstein


Love and other drugs

Pascal Tingaud is no stranger to working with bubbly – he is the Chef De Cuisine for Moët & Chandon champagne.

He recently visited South Africa for the launch of Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial and Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé. Here he answers a few questions on what makes champagne the perfect pairing partner.

What, in your opinion, makes a good champagne?

Pascal Tingaud (PT): I am not a winemaker, but when I see the winemaker working it’s very similar to cooking sourcing the best ingredients, having a good feeling about the best process to follow, being passionate about ensuring you make the best champagne, and most importantly, always being very humble because ultimately everything comes down to the land and the climate.

If you were preparing the perfect three course meal to pair with champagne, what would the dishes be and why?

PT: This is a difficult question –there are so many options. I would choose the following menu:

Starter: Prepare some uni (sea urchin) sushi with Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial – the fresh umami taste is salty and sweet and contrasts well with the texture of the champagne.

Main: Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé with a spicy Indian curry – the sweetness works over the spice and balances and completes the food.

Dessert: An Italian panettone and a creamy vanilla ice-cream with a Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial. The creaminess and the texture of the panettone is similar to the brioche taste you experience in the wine and the texture of the dried fruit works very well.

CHING, CHING. Chef De Cuisine for Moët & Chandon champagne, Pascal Tingaud. Pictures: Gareth Gilmore

CHING, CHING. Chef De Cuisine for Moët & Chandon champagne, Pascal Tingaud. Pictures: Gareth Gilmore

What foods would be too overpowering to pair with champagne?

PT: It’s always only a question of taste and balance, so there are no forbidden ingredients. Perhaps only vinegar is too much, but you can adapt all other types of spices and food.

If our readers wanted to prepare welcome drinks for guests, what champagne cocktail or combo would you suggest?

PT: One third champagne, one third champagne, one third champagne. It’s the best way to taste it, as it was created.

Why are you so passionate about champagne?

PT Because the world of champagne is always changing and evolving. I have learned more in the past 13 years working for Moët & Chandon than in the 20 years when I had my two Michelin star restaurant .

What are your three top tips for successful wine or champagne-pairing events?

PT: 1. Salt – it’s very important to add a little bit of salt to enhance the taste of champagne.

2. Lemon or lime juice will also give a little bit more acidity to the food, which I find is often missed.

3. Serve your champagne at the right temperature. Many people serve it too cold and you lose the taste, or too warm so it’s impossible to feel the champagne at his best.

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