Since 1747 La Maison Maille has been producing high quality mustards and vinegars from its Paris boutique in the 9th arrondissement. 268 years later and with a more international following, plus numerous high-end boutiques across the globe including New York, London and Sydney, Maille is still using the same quality craftsmanship to produce their range of luxury condiments.With a selection of 84 mustards and 10 vinegars available, this is not just a brand this is a legacy. A legacy that continues to explore, select, and combine the finest ingredients to create expert taste and texture combinations.
The London boutique is a perfect reflection of keeping alive the age-old traditions that have made Maille what it is today. The boutiqueis quaint and beautiful and stepping through the doors, feels like you could be stepping back in time to Antoine-Claude Maille’s original shop. It is a place that exudes the type of quality and sophistication that can only come from years of know how. With the freshmustard being delivered to the boutiquesweekly from the source inFrance, there is also a personal touch to the products and service here that show why Maille are experts in their field. No finer example of this bespoke service is Maille mustard sommelier, Harry Lalousis. Yes, that’s right – a mustard sommelier. As the name suggests he will not only cater for your every whim, but that for him the ingredients, nuances of recipes, attention to detail and pairings of the condiments are as carefully selected, as grapes are to a fine wine.
FOUR caught up with Harry to find out what it takes to cut the mustard as a Maille sommelier and why it is important to keep an open mind when delving deeper into the world of mustard possibilities…
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Australia by Greek/Italian parents.
How did you get into your line of work? Was there a particular moment where things just clicked into place or that you realized the direction you wanted to take?
It really clicked for me when I saw the surprise on customer’s faces when they realise what they can do with mustard. My job is so much more than just selling mustard, every day I’m inspired to keep taking it one step further.
Looking at Maille’s history, since 1747 there has been a tradition of pairing particular Maille mustards with foods and the brands founder, Antoine Maille was official vinegar maker and distiller to the European royal court. To become a Maille mustard sommelier involves a 6 month training course created by Maille. This covers everything from how mustard seeds are harvested, to how the mustard is made and pairing it with food.
Tell us about your work as mustard sommelier for Maille…
My role as a mustard sommelier is about pairing foods, tasting recipes, pairing mustard with different food and wines and guiding people to achieve the flavours they’re looking for through using mustard.
What can guests expect when they come to the mustard boutique?
They should be prepared to come with an open mind and expect to leave with a better understanding of how mustard can be used to enhance flavours in their cooking. Customers taste the mustard and they are surprised by the unusual flavours that they weren’t expecting.
What do most enjoy about being a mustard sommelier?
I like it when customers come back and tell me how it has changed their cooking experience at home. It’s what I live for!
In terms of mustard or flavour combinations, what is hot on your radar at the moment?
Venison is a huge trend at the moment, all the top chefs are cooking it – I make a wonderful Venison with Sauternes vinegar dish.Vinegar is a big trend, many top chefs are using it as seasoning in their dishes. Our new Sauternes vinegar is particularly good in cream sauces and with seafood.The idea of harvest and back to basics is a big trend for Autumn, shoppers are looking at where their food comes from and looking more and more for seasonal produce. Truffle is back in season in September, so of course we have our truffle mustard which really is a cut above the rest. It is soft and creamy, but with real depth of flavour from the earthy truffle. It can spice up even the simplest of dishes and if you don’t have access to fresh truffles, it is a real must for the store cupboard.
Could you suggest FOUR unusualmustard pairings and how you would prepare these?
As a keen cook with a chef background, there is nothing I enjoy more than experimenting and playing around with what I can produce with the products. Some favourites with dinner guests have been a delicate pastry dish that combines the raspberry and basil mustard with mascarpone in a tart case, then drizzled in a white chocolate sauce. I have also had numerous compliments of my chocolate fondant with a honey mustard centre within the molten chocolate – it really is a winner! Another surprising combination that really works is a semi freddo with a caramel sauce containing the hazelnut and nutmeg mustard. The pistachio and orange mustard also goes fabulously with creme patisserie to fill an eclair before being topped with crushed pistachios and a light caramel topping. The list is endless as there are so many great flavours, the important thing is just to keep an open mind and focus on the added flavours, rather than it being a mustard.Marie Antoinette, for example was a big fan of the Crème de cassismustard. We have even retrieved an originaljar from her collection that still has remnants of mustard from over 300 years ago.A dish I prepare that pays homage to thisis a savoury pancakecontaininggratedGruyère and topped with a thin layer of cream sauce with theCrème de cassis mustard. Allow this to melt under a grill and it really is the most delectabletreat!
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