Interview with Chef Wade Wiestling of Oceanaire
Rioja recently partnered with Oceanaire restaurants across the country for a month-long promotion featuring Rioja wine pairings and daily specials. As we are seeing a rise in the art of food and wine pairings, we interviewed Chef Wade Wiestling, vice president of culinary development of Oceanaire restaurants, to hear his thoughts, including what he like best about Riojas.
Q: How did you go about designing the menu for the Perfect Pairings events at Oceanaire?
A: While I have yet to visit Rioja, I’ve actually killed some time in bodega’s throughout Madrid and Andalusia and really wanted to recreate some of those simple, off the wall experiences I have had a some of those tapas style bodega’s where the wine was flowing and the food was simple by nature, yet very innovative and well prepared. I wanted to challenge the predicator of what to drink with this or that, and keep it fun spirited.
Q: What do you like best about Rioja?
A: Rioja produces a great variety of wines that are just very food friendly. The cool growing conditions of the region produce these fruit forward, balanced, well-structured wines that really don’t overwhelm food. It’s impossible to find any bad wine from Rioja.
Q: Special anecdotes or "words of wisdom" from you as a chef?
A: Food and wine should not be intimidating. Go with what you know, what you like, and what you are comfortable with…both should be enjoyed and savored as if it were your last meal. And always cook with wine.
Q: Favorite places to travel?
A: San Francisco and the wine country, Seville and Venice are where my fondest food, wine and frolicking memories come from. Something magical about all of those places that make you a little bit smarter and wiser for just having been there, eaten there and drank there every time you go.