We had the pleasure of connecting with Executive Chef and Owner of Peacock Eats, Mandy Finley-Chiarenza to discuss all things food and wine! Since a young age, Chef Mandy has had an immense love for food and after being in the industry since 2011, it’s continued to grow and flourish even more. Her passion and skills are evident in the dishes she crafts and are always tantalizing the taste buds.
1. Tell me about your business, Peacock Eats.
Peacock Brunch & Dinner (Peacock) focuses mainly on small gatherings, catering, and private chef services with menu options that have been thoughtfully designed to complement the seasons while focusing on globally and locally sourced ingredients.
2. What inspired you to be an Executive Chef?
The ability to make a lasting impression with food. There is something so special about being able to cook for someone, ultimately telling them a story. Sometimes the story could be that there was a visit to the Farmers Market that day and now you are enjoying the bounty of carefully grown and harvested vegetables prepared in a variety of different ways like my Above & Below ground Salad or perhaps it is a cold Winter’s day and I have prepared a Beef Bourguignon, slow-braised in a good quality Burgundy wine like a Pinot Noir to warm you up and comfort your soul. These stories are endless. Anthony Bourdain said it best “When someone cooks for you, they are saying something about themselves: where they come from, who they are, what makes them happy.” These words are so true and, because they matter, I have held those words close to my heart for the last 14 years of my career.
3. What is your favorite type of food and wine pairing?
My favorite wine pairings vary depending on the season, my mood, and what the occasion is. For example, I adore a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc, paired with anything that’s got some spice to it like blistered shishito chiles with spicy chorizo and lots of garlic. That being said, I also appreciate a full-bodied wine like a Cab Franc paired with something like a slow-braised, bone-in lamb shank with herbaceous mushroom gnocchi and shaved black truffles. It’s so hard to pick a favorite when there are so many amazing wine pairings!
4. What recipe do you have that would pair well with a French Bordeaux (Red Blend) wine?
An entrée recipe that I have that would pair well with a French Bordeaux (Red Blend) would be chicken saltimbocca, charred leeks, rosemary & olive oil infused polenta, with a dark chicken and green peppercorn pan sauce, or a snack as simple as a freshly done stovetop popcorn with lots of brown butter, smoked salt, and cracked black pepper. The versatility of wine with food is mesmerizing and finding new ways to blend the two will never end.
Try this recipe with the Domaines Barons de Rothschild Legende Saint Emilion. Get it in Paired Wine Club’s 2 and 4 pack Adventurer all red and mixed.
5. What recipe do you have that would pair well with a refreshing Italian white wine?
A recipe that I would pair well with a refreshing white wine would be the classic Spaghetti alle vongole. It is so beautiful and goes perfectly with a Pinot Grigio. I make this dish in the colder seasons when clams are at their peak and elevate the dish by adding either smoked steelhead caviar or toasted breadcrumb gremolata. I will usually add a generous amount of fresh herbs like tarragon or fresh dill that play well with the notes of a Pinot Grigio.
This dish also pairs great with a bottle of 50th parallel Pinot Gris featured in Paired Wine Club’s Weekday Warrior mixed packs or Francois Le Saint – Sancerre Calcaire in the Adventurer all white and mixed packs.
6. Name a favorite travel destination of yours for food and wine
A food travel destination where I had the time of my life is when I traveled to Firenze, Italy. I went with my mother-in-law who grew up there. She would take me to all the places that most tourists do not know about.
In addition to the Chianti wine tours I treated myself to (Santa Margherita being my favorite), I also visited a very small town named Settignano which was located on the hillside, Northeast of Firenze. Hidden on that hillside was a lovely gem called Trattoria Osvaldo which is known for its antipasti and fresh pasta dishes. This was the first culinary dining experience that really opened my eyes to pure ingredients treated with so much grace and love. This is one of the top three outstanding meals I have ever had, and I would go back in a heartbeat.
7. Why do you think BC is such a mecca for aspiring chefs?
I think that BC is such a Mecca for aspiring chefs because of the amazing talent and reputable establishments that BC holds. BC has a very strong and diverse culinary scene that keeps growing. Chefs can work at well-established restaurants throughout their careers where they can continue to hone their craft. Every place has new skills to learn, new challenges to overcome, and new opportunities to be taken. It’s amazing really, like basically going to school over and over again!
8. If you have one meal choice for the rest of your life, what dish would you pick to eat again and again?
If I had one meal choice for the rest of my life, the dish I would pick would have to be tacos will all the salsas and condiments. I really can’t see myself getting sick of tacos.
Tiegan Ford is the Marketing Coordinator at Paired, with an interest in design as well. As a novice wine drinker, she enjoys learning about wine, what foods to pair with different wines, and tasting notes to further expand her knowledge and enhance her wine tasting experience.