Three years ago, in August 2010, the first Bangkok Post Charity Wine Dinner was initiated with the aim of raising funds for the Bangkok Post Foundation, which over the past 30 years has supported hundreds of underprivileged schoolchildren across Thailand.
This year’s avant-garde cuisine concept is a work of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s legendary chef Norbert Kostner and the hotel’s young and innovative chef, Stefan Trepp.
The inaugural philanthropic affair was a great achievement. It drew to Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok's Le Normandie French restaurant local and international gastronomes who enjoyed a fantastic line-up of Bordeaux wine that was smartly paired with haute cuisine by Norbert Kostner, the hotel's executive chef.
Following the phenomenal success of the first event, the second took place just three months later at Centara Grand at CentralWorld's Fifty Five restaurant. To celebrate Piedmontese truffles and wine, the gourmet menu was designed exclusively for the charitable feast by Michelin-starred guest chef Fulvio Siccardi, from Piedmont in Italy.
Last year, the third affair was a collaboration between the 66-year-old newspaper and JW Marriott Bangkok's New York Steakhouse.
It welcomed steak connoisseurs from near and afar for a memorable steak-focused evening enhanced by outstanding wines from France and the US.
Promising to make an even more exciting return this year, the fourth Bangkok Post Charity Wine Dinner is set to take place on Thursday, Dec 13, at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok's Lord Jim's restaurant.
The cuisine concept is a work of the legendary Italian maestro Norbert and the hotel's young and innovative chef, Stefan Trepp, with support from the hotel's award-winning wine sommelier Tiwa Yenwattana.
Born in Switzerland 33 years ago, Stefan has been working as Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok's executive sous chef since 2009, assisting the well-versed Norbert in the operation and management of the hotel's 11 food and beverage outlets. Stefan said he learns a lot from Norbert, whether it's cooking or career principles.
"There are only two things we don't share _ the toothbrush and the wife," 67-year-old Norbert joked.
The gourmet menu for the 4th Bangkok Post Charity Wine Dinner is a beautiful marriage between Norbert's authentic cookery and Stefan's artistic approach. Through a refined multi-course meal, it presents the Mandarin Oriental's century-long culinary excellence with a revolutionary in-house touch.
''I already had in mind what I wanted to serve to my guests and an event like this is always a good opportunity for me to present new dishes, new presentations,'' Stefan said.
Norbert added: ''Our cooking styles are different, but they complement each other very well. My style is more classic _ the old style _ but Stefan's dishes are very imaginative.''
''I am an old man and I know many things, but there's still a lot of things that I don't know. For example, I don't know how to make proper espuma because I've never learned it and [the molecular technique] has never interested me, so I asked Stefan to do it. Like how people often say, 'We eat with our mouth and eyes', so while I cook mainly for the taste, Stefan cooks for the visual pleasure as well. And together we create a very nice dish, a perfect symmetry of classic and novelty,'' the Italian explained.
Stefan says his colleague's methods are complementary to his own style.
''Not only has chef Norbert taught me how to cook properly, he has also advised me on how to integrate what we want to cook with what the guests want to eat. It's important that we compromise and respect both standpoints,'' he said.
The hotel’s award-winning sommelier Tiwa Yenwattana.
It took the pair a few days to design and finalise the menu using top-of-the-line ingredients sponsored by Gourmet One, Thailand's leading fine-food supplier, to pair along with premium wine from the country's top distributor, Vanichwathana.
Featuring poultry from Bresse, langoustine from New Caledonia, Rougie foie gras, crab from Canada, mushrooms from Italy, wagyu beef from Australia and fresh produce including white asparagus, strawberries and passion fruit from the Royal Project, the menu is, according to chef Norbert, ''a fantastic bargain''.
The eight-course menu starts with marinated foie gras with passion fruit aspic, and beetroot brioche ''rubik''. It's a cold foie gras dish prepared creatively to depict a Rubik's Cube puzzle. From the process of making the terrine with the fine French goose liver to assembling all the elements into a dish, this recipe, as Stefan explained, takes a long time and meticulous work to prepare.
The next course, rillete of blue horse crab and New Caledonian langostinos, accentuates the distinguished quality of seafood from Scotland and Canada.
''Since the New Caledonian langoustine and Canadian blue horse crab are regarded as some of the world's tastiest seafood, we'd like to focus on their fresh quality and natural taste. So we only put in a little bit of sour cream and herbs before we cook them very quickly in the oven to create a very light and healthy dish,'' Stefan said.
The handmade Italian tortelli pasta with white asparagus, seasonal mushrooms and collonata represents the third course.
''This dumpling pasta is a native of northern Italy and rarely found nowadays,'' said Norbert. ''It's very traditional and very Italian, but nobody cooks it anymore because it requires too much work. For this event, we will give the paper-thin pasta a flavourful enhancement with collonata, the fatty bacon that tastes very aromatic and salty, from Italy.''
The fourth dish, deboned Bresse quail _ from the region of the same name in the French Alps famed for superior-quality poultry _ filled with fine mince, glazed chestnuts and celeriac mousseline. For the evening, half the imported bird will be stuffed in classic French style with seasoned filling made with quail meat and chestnuts and served on a plate with celeriac mousse and truffle.
The main course celebrates the perfection of the Australian wagyu beef tenderloin with professionally cooked filet mignon. The tender and flavourful cut of the imported beef will be seasoned slightly with salt and pepper before being grilled over coals and accompanied by grand cru red wine dressing.
''Of course, a wine dinner cannot be complete without good cheese. Yet, instead of an ordinary cheese plate that can be found anywhere, we decided to offer something that would create a 'wow' effect among the diners,'' said Norbert.
Therefore, the event's guests will be delighted by warm pecorino custard with herbs and salsify. The chef will slowly steam the imported pecorino cheese at a very low temperature to make it into a custard.
''We think it's much nicer to serve the cheese in a presentation that most people haven't seen before in a wine dinner,'' Stefan said. ''So the feedback we expect from the guests is for them to ask how the chef did it. The dish will look similar to creme brulee, but without the sugar on top. We also put in a little bit of herbs and salsify _ raw and cooked _ to add some acidity to the savoury custard.''
Both Norbert and Stefan said that to come up with this avant-garde menu was not at all difficult thanks to the awe-inspiring selection of wine they are provided with.
''The better the wine, the easier it is for you to create a great menu,'' Norbert said, giving the credit to Tiwa, the event's sommelier.
''To choose the wine for this year's dinner was quite a pressure because last time [the first Bangkok Post Charity Wine Dinner in 2010] the selection we had was top-notch. So the challenge is how to come up with an equally, or more impressive, line up,'' Tiwa admitted.
After serious discussion, the team finally settled on the theme of Bordeaux wine with the focus on Saint-Emilion's Premier Grand Cru Classe A and B. According to Tiwa, Saint-Emilion, a historical area northeast of Bordeaux, has a nice variety of wine.
And, unlike Bordeaux, which had its last wine classification in 1855, Saint-Emilion's classification is officially updated every 10 years.
''From the Grand Cru Classe A, we chose Chateau Cheval Blanc 1986. The name of the chateau alone is appealing. Every wine connoisseur knows it and wants to taste it. And then the year _ 1986 _ is exceptional. Even if you have money, it doesn't guarantee you can get it,'' Tiwa said.
''And for Classe B, we go for Chateau Canon 2004 and Chateau Figeac 1995. The first is great with red meat, while the latter is very nice with poultry. We will also serve Batard-Montrachet's Joseph Drouhin 2004, which will be paired with seafood and is worth approximately 75,000 baht per bottle. A bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc 1986 would cost around 100,000 baht at a fine restaurant.
''To pair wine with food is the unification of art and science. You need to know the character of wine, from types of grape to its volume and bouquet, then you have to study the dish _ the ingredients and even the sauce _ in order to create an impressive sensory experience for dining guests.''
According to Tiwa, the precious wine will be served in the finest and most expensive crystal stemware sponsored by Riedel.
''If I wasn't working for the event, I would absolutely book a seat for myself. Because such an opportunity is hard to get, and the price is more than good value, considering that you would get to taste the top wines while being indulged by the cuisine of two great chefs amidst the Mandarin Oriental's five-star service,'' the sommelier concluded.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP
- Muscat wine and marinated foie gras, passion fruit aspic and beetroot brioche rubik, fresh berries, avocado emulsion and blossom.
- Peach, strawberry, mascarpone and crumble, cracked sugar egg, vanilla mascarpone cubes.
- Chargrilled rosette of wagyu beef, red wine sauce.
Joining the two chefs and sommelier Tiwa Yenwattana in making the charity wine dinner a memorable one is Lord Jim’s efficient kitchen and service team.
About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter