Mise en place.
French for “everything in place,” most chefs will readily admit that this is one of the most cherished secrets for success when working on a line.
Before you cook, get everything just right at your station.
Measure, peel, chop.
Going through all this preparation ahead of time, and focusing on the role and placement of each important ingredient and element of a dish, opens the door for more time focusing on the intricate details that it takes to master the nuances of a sear and a shake, a broil and a bake.
But what happens when you take the philosophy of “mise en place” and apply it not only to the actual execution of a dish or a dinner, but also to the method by which an entire menu is crafted?
A menu where every ingredient has a role. A menu where each course tells a story. A menu where each bite evokes a feeling.
What you get is The Williamsburg Winery Holiday 2019 dinners.
We sat down recently with The Williamsburg Winery’s Chef David McClure, who helped deconstruct this year’s holiday menus, available for Thanksgiving and Christmas at The Williamsburg Winery’s Café Provencal and the Gabriel Archer Tavern.
What comes together “en place” to create the magic may be more than you think. Read on.
Ingredients in Place
In real estate, they say, location is everything.
In food, ingredients are everything.
At The Williamsburg Winery, that’s where it all starts.
More specifically, it starts with locally sourced ingredients.
During the earliest planning stages of this year’s holiday menus, the first calls McClure made was to his trusted partners in Williamsburg and throughout the state to check on the quality and availability of local ingredients.
“We have a lot of good relationships – for example, the Edwards family in Surry, Manakintowne Growers, Llewdor Gardens, Agriberry, Joyce Farms and Border Springs Farm, which is producing some of the best lamb in the country,” said Simon Smith, Vice President of Food and Beverage for The Williamsburg Winery. “All of Wessex Farm is inspired by local cuisine, and I think that’s a great movement for the community.”
McClure then takes the ingredients he can source, thinks through traditional holiday dishes guests will expect (tradition is important), and works to reimagine them.
Take the main course on Café Provencal’s Thanksgiving Dinner menu.
One must have turkey as an option on Thanksgiving, after all.
But instead of a typical stuffed turkey, McClure will prepare a Roasted Turkey Wellington with Edwards Surry Sausage, oyster mushrooms, pickled cranberries, leek soubise and a roasted parsnip and potato puree.