Friday 22 March 2013

French Foodies in Ireland: Emmanuelle Legrand, co-owner and manager of L'Atitude 51 Wine Café, Cork

Emmanuelle Legrand comes from Lorraine in the east of France near the well known region of Alsace. She's is the co-owner and manager of L'atitude 51 in Cork.

What brought you to Ireland?

I came to Ireland through a work exchange programme in 1992, with the sole aim of improving my English language skills, 21 years later and I’m still here

Tell me about yourself
I am French living in Cork since 2000. I left France in 1992 to live in Dublin, then Edinburgh and later in Prague and worked mostly in the IT industry. Several Wine tastings changed my life as I grew a passion for wine and decided I needed to change my career and follow my passion. So I made the move into the Wine industry. I went back to study, got my WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) diploma in 2010 and with my business partner Beverley Mathews, set up L’Atitude 51 a Wine Café in Cork city about 15 months ago. I absolutely love combining and matching wines and foods.

Tell me about your foodie occupation
I am the co-owner and manager of L’Atitude 51 a Wine Café in Cork city. I work mainly with wines but I’m also in charge of the kitchen and work with the chef and sous chef to organise our daily, weekly and seasonal menus. I love food as much as I love wine. The combination of the two is always challenging and exciting. We specialise in French, Italian and Irish cuisine which gives us a great palette of ingredients to work from.

What do you like the most about your job?
Without a doubt it's customer satisfaction, it’s such a great feeling when your customers tell you that your wine or food selection is excellent. Pleasing people is a great excitement and achievement.

What is your food and/or wine qualification and/or experience?
For years I harboured a strong passion for wine, but I didn’t have the courage to act on my instinct, and I trudged through life working in the IT industry. When I finally gathered the courage, I changed career to work in the Wine Industry, I went back to study and after qualifying for the Intermediate and Advanced WSET (Wines and Spirits Education Trust) I proceeded to qualify for the WSET diploma. I got my diploma in 2010 and after working for several Wine merchants in Ireland, I returned to the South of France and worked hands on in a winery in order to gain some on the ground knowledge of wine making. My employers in France were extremely accommodating, I worked in the fields tending the vines, within the winery during the whole wine making process, I worked side by side with the oenologue, the bottling plant, their wine store, I hosted tours of the winery, and it was an extremely beneficial time. On my return, I started my own Business in Cork giving Wine Appreciation courses after that I opened L’Atitude 51 with my Irish business partner Beverley.
I’ve always loved food and cooking for friends. In France, food is a huge part of our culture, the first thing we talk about when I go back to visit my family is food, unbelievable!!!! When all the family are together, our kitchen is an absolute hive of activity, with all of us, brothers, sisters in law, Mothers, Fathers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and sometimes neighbours, trying to outcook each other, each one showing off their latest recipe, competitive at times but always fun, those are always long but are the most enjoyable days. I think I must have the most extensive cookery book and magazine collection on the planet. I like the simple, fresh, and seasonal ingredients which are cooked without fuss and give a great result of flavours. I admire greatly what the people at Ballymaloe have achieved in terms of simple yet great cuisine.

When did you start being interested in wines?
During my trips back to visit my family over the years, I found that I was building an ever increasing wine collection, everywhere I visited, I was always buying and sampling wines. I started to take part in several wine tasting sessions and really started to enjoy them and discovered I had a real passion for the subject. Your tasting senses are ever evolving and I am now in the fortunate position where I have to taste wines on a weekly basis. If I could I would spend the all day studying about wines.
What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?
It always changes. It pretty much depends on my mood, whom I’m with, the day etc. You know you’ve got it right when neither the food nor wine is overpowering. The fusion of the two creates a new fascinating range of flavours and taste. I love the fact that some wines are great to drink on their own, but others just scream out to be paired with food.


*All pictures courtesy of Emmanuelle Legrand

L'Atitude 51's website
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