October is Wine Month In Virginia And You Won't Go Hungry

Moday Morning Blog

The Vintner's Chef Cooks Up Perfect Food To Pair With Virginia Wines

It may not the best economic time to start a business but that didn't stop Pamela Zacha from following her dream. She left the security of a full time job to start the Vinter's Chef - and even got her old boss to put up the seed money.

Vintner's Chef is a niche catering business that focuses on food prepared especially for Virginia wineries. There are two parts to the Vintner's Chef, Plat du Jour and Extraordinary Events, both of which will pop your cork.

Plat du Jour (Plate of the Day) is run by Zacha who prepares upscale, individual servings of prepackaged, fresh gourmet food for local wineries to sell to their customers. Each item is paired with a specific wine for the diner's tasting pleasure.

Zacha got the idea for her niche business after hearing people complain about the lack of food at Virginia wineries.

"Virginia Farm wineries, because of their tax status, are not allowed to have full service restaurants and serve meals. They're allowed to sell prepackaged food and most sell cheese and crackers but not much more." said Zacha. "That's where I come in. I prepare elegant food to flatter their wines."

Extraordinary Events is the full service catering arm of the Vintner's Chef. It's run by Altovese McClung. The two whisk their passion for food and wine together like a gossamer hollandaise.

And, like Plat du Jour, catering at wineries is the specialty.

She must be on to something because it took Zacha only two and half months to get the entire operation up and running.

"The right food with the right wine makes everything pop! " says Pamela Zacha.


Want more info?

The Vintner's Chef
Exquisite Food to Flatter Wine

Plat du Jour - Prepackaged Winery Fare
Extraordinary Events Catering




Savory Pesto Cheesecakes
Complements of The Vintner's Chef

Nice with your favorite rose.
Best served at room temperature but these can be refrigerated for several days.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 16 - single serve, individual cheesecakes baked in a standard size cup cake pan

(You can use 3/4 cup of prepared pesto from a jar and skip this step)
1 package fresh basil, about 1/2 cup
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Finely chop first three ingredients in food processor. With motor still running, pour olive oil slowly down feed tube. Process until well incorporated. Add parmesan cheese. Blend well.

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup dry Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook's tip: Panko crumbs are coarse grated, Japanese style bread crumbs. They are available in grocer stores everywhere.

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, butter and the dried basil. Spread onto baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven until golden. Watch carefully, these crumbs cook quickly.

Line a cupcake tin with papers. Spoon baked crumb mixture into bottom of cupcake papers. Press down into paper firmly. Set aside and make the filling.

16 ounces cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 large eggs
1/4 cup pine nuts

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, sour cream, salt and cayenne in a large bowl until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of mixture to medium bowl. Mix pesto mixture into remaining half.

Pour pesto mixture into crust lined cup cake papers. Smooth tops. Carefully spoon plain mixture over. Gently smooth tops. Sprinkle each cup pine nuts dividing evenly.

Bake until center no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.


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