Q & A with Nanette Berning-Pate (Pictured above at Wynn, Las Vegas)
What inspired you to pursuing the culinary arts?
Being raised in a family that loved to eat great food, I have always been fascinated with all aspects of cooking. I began baking at an early age with my Grandpa. We baked cakes and cookies. I moved on to making meals for my family as a teen. Pleasing family and friends with my culinary creations has always been a source of pleasure for me.
After culinary school I began my career as a hotel chef before moving on to my own restaurant here in Cottonwood, CA. I sold my restaurant in 2016 but still continue to explore cooking through classes and reading.
What is your favorite go to meal/dish to make?
It is impossible to pick one favorite dish that I love over all the others to create however, I do love everything about preparing Thanksgiving dinner. From the baked goods to the entrees and sides, this is a meal where all cooks can shine. Enjoying a great meal with family and friends is what cooking and entertaining is all about. As a child Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday and remains my favorite today.
Is there a particular ingredient that has you excited this season?
I am very excited about using cranberries this season, from baked goods to appetizers and even cocktails cranberries will be abundant around my table.
What are your tips for preparing meals for the holidays?
My best tip for preparing your holiday meals is be organized and start early. Plan your shopping early and begin preparing any dish that allows, up to three days out. For example I always do a holiday themed cheesecake that can be done days early. Many appetizers can be prepared days early and heated on the day of service. I do all my mise en place early and have all ingredients ready to go. My best tip is to ask for help. I find most guests love to help.
What elements do you look for when you pair wine with food?
One of my favorite ingredients is duck. For that reason I am a fan of a red Burgundy or a domestic Pinot Noir. I love a red that does not over power a hearty duck dish. But I do believe you should always drink what you like. I learned that important tip from my father.
What is your favorite wine and food combo?
My favorite meal was a grilled duck Chow Mein with a fried duck egg on top. The photo is me awaiting this dish. I have recreated this dish at home with some success.
What country(s) is on your culinary radar to visit next and why?
I have been fantasizing about visiting Switzerland for some great cheese and chocolate. The awesome views of the Alps from one of the trains they are known for would be exciting.