Chefs and Cigars: A Recipe for a Great Smoke
If you thought the world’s top-rated chefs and cigars were a poor mix because of their refined palates, you would be wrong! Some of the top chefs from famed Michelin-starred restaurants are as passionate about cigars as they are the food they cook. Chef Eric Ripert tastes up to twenty sauces a day and still counts on a great cigar almost every day. Some chefs look forward to cigars for a quiet moment after a busy dinner shift in the company of fellow kitchen staff. Others savor them as part of a big meal finale with friends and family. One thing is certain, chefs and cigars definitely have their place in the kitchen!
Cohibas in the Kitchen
Chefs Eric Ripert and Jose Andres have built significant restaurant empires with multiple outposts located in favorite cigar hot spots like Las Vegas, Miami, and New York. The chefs have vastly different cooking styles. Ripert is a brilliant technician with fish. Andres is a leader of the tapas or small plate movement that set the standard in the country. What they have in common, though, is a love of brilliantly crafted cigars.
The smokes Ripert and Andres enjoy, reflect their personalities and their cooking styles. Ripert’s go-to cigar is a Cohiba Esplendido, which has a smaller ring gauge and tends toward a milder flavor. Andres favors the Cohiba Behike, a brasher, bigger ring gauge cigar that packs plenty of punch.
Chefs and Cigars Help Create a Great Anniversary Davidoff
Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry is such a cigar enthusiast, that he and four fellow chef friends were asked to create a fiftieth-anniversary cigar for Davidoff. The tobaccos selected became the Davidoff Chef’s Edition and reflect the food and spices that embody the chef’s preferred food pairings.
Rich flavors infuse the final tobacco blend. These include the essences of licorice, oak wood, Szechuan pepper, coffee, cumin, and chocolate. According to the chefs, the most compelling part of the creative process was the fermentation of the tobaccos. Creating the different flavor profiles was like choosing the flavor profiles and components that go into a fine meal. The top chefs and cigars they created were a recipe for a great smoke.
Emeril Loves Hand Rolled Cigars
Famed chef, Emeril Lagasse has been smoking cigars most of his life. What intrigues him most is the craftsmanship behind a well-made cigar. Hand rolling is artistry, and part of the entire cigar smoking experience. Like food, it’s important to know where your cigar comes from.
The journey from tobacco seed to cigar is no different than the journey of the food he cooks. It’s something he taught his own kids, “Orange juice doesn’t come from a carton; it’s the same thing with cigars. People don’t understand all that goes into growing it, aging it, enjoying it.”
Chefs and Cigars Create the Perfect Dessert Alternative
All the chefs had one thing in common; they would skip dessert in favor of a cigar. Timing is everything and after a big meal, a cigar is a perfect complement. Especially when paired with the right cocktail. Aged tequilas and scotches more than compensate for dessert.
Thomas Keller stocks a custom-made humidor at the French Laundry. Keller offers rarities like cigars to guests instead of dessert. No matter what the meal is, don’t forget to add a cigar to the menu and create your own recipe for a good smoke!
Photo credit: Davidoff