never cook with a wine wouldn't drink

Chef Ken Gurley

Chef Ken runs GardenFresh Personal Chef & Catering in Northern California's East Bay. His two biggest passions in life are cooking and vegetable gardening. His earliest memories are filled with his grandmother's cooking and family meals "always made from food that was grown, raised and cooked with love and passion".

He graduated with honors from the California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu Program in San Francisco. And he didn't stop there. He went on to graduate from the University of California Master Gardener program. With the skills he learned from these programs, he transformed his backyard into his own market garden, from which he draws for his culinary creations.

Chef Ken Gurley offers personal chef services for time-strapped East Bay residents (and really, who isn't!). Learn more below, or visit the GardenFresh website at

Here's what Chef Ken had to say:

Blend #1:
"There is a real coffee nose to this wine - lots of earthy notes too. I'm thinking maybe a beef bouillon or pot roast. Any type of a beef stew would go well with this. Maybe some mushrooms and the wine reduced in with them. Thyme would be a complimentary spice for a sauce with this.

I could see a bouillabaisse with this wine too. It might be very nice. You could drink a glass of this while you're cooking, too."

Blend #2:
"I could see this going well with seafood - maybe a bouillabaisse. There's a little bit of fruitiness and acidity, but it's not overpowering. Although of course as it reduces, these will come out a little bit more. This might be great with a mushroom sauce for chicken - but I wouldn't use it for Italian dishes because I think the tomatoes might overpower the wine, especially with the extra acidity added from high quality freshly crushed tomatoes.

Something delicate like seafood or fish might do well: sea bass, halibut, clams, mussels, sea scallops. Maybe even steamed clams, but the acidity might be too much for this dish."

Blend #3:
"I think that with the tannins, this would go great with some baked ziti with italian sausage. The tannins would compliment the fattiness of the dish. Plus it will hold on its own with the tomatoes and sausage.

Also, Italian-style shellfish stew with bell peppers and onions. You use a wine like this and add clams, mussels, shrimp, cod or halibut. I think this really compliments the bell peppers in the dish.

This is nice! And you have the fruit and the tannins, but it's not overpowering like a regular Zinfandel."

Blend #4:
"I could see this working really well in a chicken cacciatora dish. Turkey picatta might go nice in this too - although I'll need to work with it a little bit to see how it will work out with the fruitiness of this blend (as it interacts with the butter, capers and saltiness of the dish). Turkey is kind of bland, so you need something to perk it up a little bit.

As I taste this, I'm also thinking peaches. This might go great just with some sliced peaches and brie cheese as a drinking wine, too. You have the bright fruity nose that would go well with pears and pears go well with brie. "

More about Ken Gurley:

Chef Ken runs GardenFresh Personal Chef & Catering. His company cooks healthy and tailored meals from fresh ingredients in the safety of customers' own homes. He has found that his services free his customers up to spend their time how they please - meaning extra time each day with their loved ones, exercising, playing ball with the family dog, or simply watching the early evening news.

To learn more, check out the GardenFresh website at!

About the ACADÉMIE Feedback Project:
ACADÉMIE wine blends are a work in progress. We are constantly improving, refining and tweaking our profiles. There is nothing we love more than feedback on how to improve our product. Because we source wines directly from other wineries, we are able to introduce wines with qualities that will highlight and emphasize certain flavors in your cooking. The result is a blend that helps you achieve flavor perfection.

An important part of this process is to solicit feedback. Everyone in the world of flavors has an opinion about what works and what doesn't. We believe it's important to get as many different perspectives as we can.

This article is one of a series of articles showcasing the opinions and feedback from people involved in creating great flavors.