Chef & Somm Beyond Taste

Earlier this year I had the chance to attend an incredible evening organized by Chef Eyal Liebman and Sommelier Rebecca Mei-Liebman, the talented duo also known as Chef & Somm, benefitting Sojourn House Toronto. Dinner was more than just a delicious meal, but an experience in sensory delight. Throughout the evening, all five of our senses were teased and tested to explore if how we taste food and wine changed with our atmosphere. The evening began with a wine tasting with 4 mystery wines, 2 red and 2 whites. Chatting with those seated near me, most had a strong preference between the reds and the whites, especially one person who loved wine #1 and strongly disliked wine #4. Turns out, wine #4 was wine #1 with a few drops of food colouring. I did not see that coming. This was a perfect example of how strongly sigh influences how we taste, even with wine.

Disclaimer: All food and drinks reviewed below were provided complimentary. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

Beyond Taste was held at The Richmond, a beautiful event space that was transformed with art and a long table filled with wine glasses. Four hors d’oeuvres were served, which were 2 sets of ingredients presented in very different ways. For example, one set was asparagus wrapped with bacon, simply stacked in bite size pieces. Then, the very same dish was served as a gelatin sphere filled with puree. I quite liked both versions, and found the sphere offered a much more concentrated flavour.

Dinner began with a Caprese salad, styled like a piece of pizza. Next was a Salmon Poke, followed by a large piece of Schnitzel and then a rich Cassoulet with duck confit and toulouse sausage. The schnitzel was crispy and excellently seasoned, served with an egg poached in the shell. By the time the cassoulet arrived, I was already quite full and only had a few bites of the heavy dish. The duck confit was incredibly tender, fall off the bone, but a little heavy handed with salt. To further play with our sense during dinner, incense was lit at one point, then snuffed, the music changed genres and volume, and the lights dimmed and brightened. With all the wine I’d been consuming, I couldn’t tell if my tastebuds were reacting to all of the outside stimulus, but I was talking louder.

Throughout the night, we tasted many, many wines, at least two with each course and there was not a single glass I didn’t enjoy. I really enjoyed all of Sommelier Rebecca’s wine pairings, especially the dessert and ice wine. We sampled wines from 5 different local wineries and my favourite was the crisp, clean taste of the Reif Estate Winery Chardonnay. This will a label that I look for now at the LCBO.

Dessert was chocolate mousse served two ways, in a dome and piped out. Chef Eyal spoke to the guests about his goal for the dinner and his inspirations. Personally, I loved going into the meal without knowing what to expect and being a part of his experiment.

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