Nespresso Grand Chef Rendezvous

When I started this blog eight months ago, it was far from my wildest dreams that it would open up the opportunities that presented itself to me on Friday. I have to say I’m still in a daze.

Let me back track a bit. I was sitting on the subway in New York, heading to JFK so I can catch a flight back home when I opened my e-mail and saw that I was being asked to attend an intimate dinner hosted by the CEO and President of Nespresso USA. The event would feature a six-course meal created by a collection of the world’s top chefs.

Um, yes please! I replied back and we spent the next few weeks getting everything together.

I got in the car a little bit after seven and made it just in time to snag a few hors d’oeuvres before dinner started.

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The reception was held in the outside foyer of San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building. It was the perfect place to host the event because Nespresso is actually a partner of America’s Cup and the official sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand.

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This is where I started to learn a little more about Nespresso and I gathered some fun facts I wanted to share with you!

They started the company over 25 years ago in Switzerland and has grown to become one of the most well known manufactures in the world. Their goal was to create the perfect cup of Espresso coffee by using a combination of quality Grands Crus coffee, stylish machines and exceptional customer service.

I can’t remember what each of the appetizers were exactly, but just know that they were amazing and really made me eager to start the dinner cooked by the chefs.

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And then my life changed. I got to meet Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Per Se, ad hoc and Bouchon Bistro and Bakery. He is every foodie’s idol and the only American chef to obtain 2 three-Michelin-stars simultaneously (I’ll toot his horn for him).

I asked him if he would hate me forever if we took a picture together and he was incredibly charming about it. Swoon.

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Still floating on clouds, I headed up to the main hall where the dinner was being held. Nespresso did an amazing job arranging the night and I appreciated the meticulous attention they placed to each and every little detail. It was something out of a movie, seriously.

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My heart also sings to our live entertainment! They did an amazing job throughout the night playing live jazz and set the mood perfectly.

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The night began with an introduction about Nespresso and the event.

The host opened with a great saying, “Without a story, a shark remains a fish. Without a story, Nespresso remains a good coffee”. The chefs combined hold 11 Michelin stars and took part of the ‘Nespresso Chef Academy’, where they mastered the subtleties of each Grand Cru (coffee) and learn about the continued quest for excellence that Nespresso is defined by.

Each chef used coffee some way in their recipes and it was fun trying to pinpoint where the taste was coming from in each dish.

Before we dive into each course, I also wanted to give a great thanks to our Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson (winner of three James Beard Awards!). Her pairings were so perfect and I couldn’t imagine sipping anything else with the flawless food. Also, she managed to have all the wine come from Napa Valley. So proud to be a Californian!

1. Our first plate was prepared by Chef Marc Forgione of Marc Forgione. He is an Iron Chef and the youngest American Chef/Owner to win consecutive Michelin stars.

Alex’s Swordfish

with Fennel Kraut, Grain Mustard, Nespresso Rosabaya de Columbia, Wild Juniper Smoke

paired with Domaine Carneros Cuvee de la Pompadour Brut Rose Sparkling, Napa Valley NV

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Throughout each course, the chefs took a stand and explained their thought process behind each dish.

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His inspiration came while he was eating pastrami on rye in NYC. I thought it was interesting because that’s where my mind took me when I bit into the kraut. The Brut brought out the coffee grinds that were in the swordfish’s crust.

Chef Forgione mentioned he loved being apart of Nespresso‘s team because he often uses coffee while cooking.

(**I also wanted to say sorry for the quality of the pictures! The lighting in the room, as intimate as it was, was not the best for taking pictures. I tried to get official pictures e-mailed to me before my post went up but it doesn’t look like it will happen! I will try to update if I can get them in the next few days!) πŸ™‚

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As you guys may know, I am not the biggest fan of seafood. However, the swordfish was absolutely phenomenal. If all seafood tasted like this I would have to change sides!

2. Next up was a treat from Josh Emett of Rata in New Zealand. Chef Emett is a MasterChef NZ judge and worked many years alongside Gordon Ramsay.

Seared Venison Loin

with Black Grapes with Nespresso Arpeggio, Celariac, Enoki Mushroom

paired with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ‘SLV’, Napa Valley 1993

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Chef Emett served the venison in a carpaccio style. With his restaurant in New Zealand and Nespresso being the official sponsor of NZ’s team, it only came naturally that he chose venison as his dish for the evening. The grapes were cooked with the Arpeggio coffee that had a certain sweetness then dry taste, which created the perfect earthly palate.

3. The third dish came was designed by Chef Yannick AllΒ΄eno who runs the kitchen at Le 1947. His mission for the past 25 years has been to reinvent traditional dishes in surprising ways.

Butternut Squash

Flavored with Vanilla and Nespresso Indriya from India, Rye Bread Mousse

paired with Grgich Hills Paris Cuvee Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2010

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This dish was a nice sweet intermission from the savory flavors of the first two dishes. He says this dish reminds him of a female, light but complex.

4. Coming in fourth was Thomas Keller, the owner/chef of French Laundry, Per Se, ad hoc and Bouchon Bistro and Bakery. He is the only American-born chef to hold more than one three star ratings by the Michelin Guide. He was also designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of honor in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the traditions of French cuisine and his role in elevating cooking in America.

Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobsters

with Black Mission Figs, Cipollini Onions and Nespresso Rosabaya de Colombia Chocolate Sauce

paired with Saintsbury Brown Ranch Pinot Noir, Los Carneros-Napa Valley 2005

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Chef Keller was extremely humbling, he expressed huge gratitude for the chefs and sous chefs downstairs. The coffee in the chocolate sauce balanced the acidity and the fruit blended well with the figs.

I never thought I would eat lobster and chocolate at the same time, but it worked so well together. He mentioned that this was originally a recipe at The French Laundry many years ago.

5. The penultimate course was prepared by Chef Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur. His restaurant is located in the French riviera and he’s known for his creative gastronomic cuisines that blend with the best of Mediterranean cooking.

Slow-Cooked Pigeon

with Nespresso Crealto Limited Edition Polenta and Coconut Sauce

paired with Trefethen Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley 2010

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This dish was quite the chatter of the night. They raised over 200 hundred pigeons in Northern California for this event and it had to be prepared in such a way that it was brought to the table at the perfect temperate. Magnifique!

6. Last but not least was Chef Michelle Bernstein of Michys. She serves haute cuisine with Latin touches.

Chocolate Chorizo Cremeux

with Cherry-Pedro Ximenez- Nespresso Decaffeinato Intenso Sauce and TCHO Cocoa Nib-Nespresso Ristretto Streusel

paired with Prager Family Royal Escort ‘Port’, Napa Valley 2009

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This desert was INCREDIBLE. If I thought lobster and chocolate was unique, then chorizo and chocolate mousse is another category. The chorizo was based on he Latina side and the sauce was derived from fresh pluots grown here in San Francisco. If Chef Bernstein intended the night to finish with a bang, she should give herself a pat on the back because that’s exactly what happened! I couldn’t get enough.

With the dinner ending after midnight, the chefs all came together for a round of applause. It was surreal to be surrounded by so much talent.

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The after party offered coffee for all the guests and Nespresso even organized a light show with the Bay Bridge! How cool is that? I managed to take a picture on my way home at a red light.

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Breaking Bad is about to come on, so I wanted to giveΒ Nespresso another big big thank you for this wonderful opportunity! I hold it close to my heart.

Already have my eye on the Gran Maestra, time to start pinching pennies. πŸ™‚

**Nespreso provided me the dinner, all opinions are proudly my own.

Which dish would you be the most excited to try? Do you have a Nespresso machine? What did you think about Breaking Bad last night?

32 thoughts on “Nespresso Grand Chef Rendezvous

  1. Woa- what an incredible opportunity!!!! So happy for you and thanks for letting us share in your evening by posting all the details here πŸ™‚
    I think the Chocolate Chorizo Cremeux is what I would be most excited to try! Nope, I do not have a Nespresso machine yet πŸ™

  2. What fun! Do you get to take someone with you too? Or do you just have to mingle and find someone to talk to ?

    That crostini totally looks like the one I made (haa haa!). All those dinner dishes look amazing, but the meat means I can’t eat them. I’ll just oggle.
    Don’t have a nespresso but I know some people who do and they love it.

    • I didn’t have a +1, but the staff kept me pretty busy so I only was able to do a little bit of mingling. πŸ™‚

      I think you would of loved the squash!

  3. Wow, Tara!! That’s awesome that Nespresso invited you to their dinner; everything looked incredible. Including you! πŸ˜‰
    I can’t get over the beauty of the hall where the dinner was held and they served Domaine Carneros- great choice!
    I still want to see the Bay Bridge all lit up in person!

    • Well they’re closing the bridge this weekend so I think they’re doing some major reno, hopefully there are more light shows in the future. πŸ™‚

  4. How stinking awesome that you got this opportunity!! Even if you didn’t love the lighting, all the food pics look stellar – especially that lobster!!! They are all so unique and I am loving that! I bet you went home the happiest girl alive!! πŸ™‚ Haha, I don’t know much about Breaking Bad, but with what you said about GoT in my comments today… sigh… I might start. πŸ™

    • I did go home really happy! You MUST start BrBa!! It’s going to be one of the best shows in this (and a little of last) decade!!

  5. Wow, what a remarkable event– I am very jealous you got to attend such a special night! And that main hall was beautiful! Oh and Breaking Bad is kiiilling me…I just want to watch the entire rest of the season right now!!!

    • What did you think of last episode? All hell is about to break loose, I’m not going to give any spoilers but I had anxiety for two hours after just thinking about how it’s going to end!

  6. Ok I’m totally not reading any of the comments because I’m not allowed to watch Breaking Bad until my husband gets back from his work trip next weekend! πŸ™‚

    I am literally ooozing with jealousy right now! LOVE LOVE LOVE! I took the hubs to Per Se for his 30th bday and it was amazing. I can’t believe you got to meet Thomas Keller. His food is superb! Everything here looks unbelievable. And I love pinot noir from the Carneros region. So yeah. I’m jealous!

    Looks like you had an amazing time!

    • Oh man, how can you wait? Atleast you will get to watch two episodes back to back instead of counting the minutes ’til Sunday like I am!

      So jealous you got to go to Per Se! It’s on my NYC to do list!

  7. Dude!! That is so crazy awesome, what a night! One of these days I need to go to the Nespresso cafe near Union Square. I pass by it, like, every week but haven’t tried it out yet. And holy cow, chocolate AND lobster? And raising a flock of pigeons for one particular event? Mind. Blown.

    So, I thought I had you in my feed, but I realized it’s been a while since I read one of your posts. Off to get caught up, and figure out wth is going on with my feed.

  8. Oh.my.god. Sister – this dinner. I just don’t even have words. First – Bouchon in Las Vegas is AMAZING. Second – the food, the booze and the GORGEOUS space. Thank you for sharing this evening with us!

    • I went to Bouchon in Vegas too and loved it! I wish I took a picture of our table. Everyone had 6 wine glasses so it was like a sea of glass + the mirrored table. Stunning!

    • You know, I’m not a big seafood person at all and it was actually one of my first times eating lobster! I LOVED it. I’m sure the recipe being developed by such a prestigious chef helped a little but I am a little more willing to try it at other places now. πŸ™‚

  9. This food looks absolutely delicious however, I am a BIG PORTION kind of girl, so I would have been starving after that gala! LOL!!!!! But it’s all about the flavor combinations so I get it! I would have been all over that swordfish!

    • I usually am too, but I was surprisingly stuffed by the end of the night! I think all the wine and accumulation of all the courses will fill your belly pretty well. πŸ™‚

  10. I might die if I met Thomas Keller! Everything looks so fabulous. I bought my mom a Nespresso for Christmas last year and she’s obsessed with it. I’m very tempted to get one for my own kitchen πŸ™‚

    • Happy to hear your mom liked it! I’m also very tempted…luckily my birthday is right around the corner. πŸ™‚

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