One of the best examples of Burgundy cooking, the Clos de Vougeot Chateau owes its reputation to a dedicated and talented team, led by chef Olivier Walch, who produces spectacular banquets.
You run a very large and well-respected dining room which is not a restaurant. Can you explain what you do?
The Clos de Vougeot Chateau caters for private receptions, weddings, conferences and, in particular, the sixteen ‘chapters’ of the annual Brotherhood of the Knights of the Wine Tasting Cup! These traditional banquets have on average 600 guests and we open about 900 bottles of wine from the Burgundy region (in French, Bourgogne), all of them selected by the brotherhood! A team of one hundred people – cooks, pastry chefs, waiters, wine stewards, the cadets of Burgundy (singers of traditional songs) and the hunting horn players – work on a chapter banquet.
What makes a banquet a success?
You need attention to detail, hard work, lots of imagination and a well-trained team, because I do a different menu for each chapter banquet! Only one dish, the fourth, stays the same: eggs in red-wine sauce, and it’s a real challenge to serve 1,200 perfectly cooked poached eggs …
Which other wine recipes do you like?
The ‘Rougetin’, which is a filled biscuit – one of many – with a wine and blackberry jelly; Culoiseau chicken, which I serve with a chardonnay sauce; and Burgundy white butter, which I prepare with white wine, cream, tarragon, and mustard … of course.
What should you absolutely taste before leaving Burgundy?
Without doubt, poached eggs in red-wine sauce. But also Gaston Gérard chicken! It’s a roasted chicken and we use the juices from the pan to make a wine sauce. Add cream, some comté cheese, mustard, not forgetting the final touch … paprika. Glaze and roast until golden brown … We could continue with a parsleyed ham, or gingerbread. Two pillars of Burgundy’s gastronomy.