Chef Cole Cooking with White Wine
Food And Wine
Executive Chef Cole Dickinson was recently approached to participate in a recent article on FoodandWine.com written by Jillian Kramer. The piece, “The 5 Best White Wines for Cooking,” features chefs’ takes on their favorite white wines to use in the kitchen including Champagne, Chardonnay, Sauternes, Chablis, and Marsala. Chef Dickinson was quoted for his use of Champagne.
Champagne isn’t just for celebrating. Cole Dickinson, executive chef of Layla at MacArthur Place, says that one of his “go-to” cooking wines is champagne. He says, “A dry brut is a great baseline for a lively champagne butter sauce served over just about any type of fish.” That’s because, as Dickinson explains, “the liveliness of the dry sparkling wine offsets the richness of the butter and fattiness of the fish,” and he recommends turbot and salmon. The key to using champagne in cooking, he says, “is to use a dry sparkling wine, and use it within a few days of opening.” Plus, Dickinson adds, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good cooking champagne. “Most decent bottle of bubbles will do the trick,” he says.
Cooking with Additional White Wines: In Chef Cole’s Own Words
Cooking with good wine might sound like sacrilege in wine country, but starting with good wine is a must for great results (you get out what you put in!). I don’t use wine heavily in my cooking, as my approach tends to favor purity — letting the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through.
Some dishes of course call for white wine, like our soupe de poisson served with grilled sourdough, garlic aioli, and rouget. I use Chablis in the broth for its crisp but not-too-distracting acidity, low alcohol and clean minerality that accents the seafood flavors. Or I’ll substitute with a Picpoul for its citrusy brightness that plays well with the zesty garlic aioli and salinity of the broth.
On a more playful note, I love cooking with Mirin, an off-dry Japanese rice wine. Our Mirin-pickled cucumbers are an essential component in the new poke dish I’m developing for Layla, as the sweetness of the Mirin balances the umami notes in the soy for the perfect alchemy of flavors. The trick with Mirin is not to overdo it; a little goes a long way.
Last but not least, I’m a fan of Late Harvest Riesling for creating unique, flavorful and refreshing notes in desserts. I’m working on a new dish for Layla, a Persian love cake with a Late Harvest Riesling and rose water lucette jelly. The floral and honey notes of the Riesling interplay beautifully with the rose water and warming spice notes in the cake. It’s the ultimate elixir.
Executive Chef Cole Dickinson
Chef Dickinson comes to MacArthur Place most recently from Acacia House at the Forbes 4-star Las Alcobas Resort in Napa Valley, which was recently named one of the Bay Area’s best 100 restaurants by the San Francisco Chronicle. As a protégée of Chef Michael Voltaggio, Chef Dickenson worked first at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg followed by Voltaggio’s Hemisphere at the Greenbrier in West Virginia and then at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Beverly Hills.
His professional experience also includes work with some of the world’s most highly lauded chefs and restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in London; Laurent Gras’ 3 Michelin star l2o in Chicago and with Wolfgang Puck in Hollywood. Dickinson has competed in and won Food Network’s “Chopped” and has been recognized as a StarChefs “Los Angeles Rising Star Chef,” an Eater “Young Guns” winner, and has also been named one of Zagat’s “30 Under 30.”
Award-winning Chef Cole Dickinson will serve as executive chef, overseeing all food and beverage operations including Layla, The Bar at MacArthur, The Porch, weddings and social events, poolside dining, and the hotel’s in-room dining program.