Written by Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association
Chef Tony Murray and Chef Ashley Ullrich
Located in the middle of downtown Livermore, Double Barrel Wine Bar is a key institution of the wonderful culinary scene in Livermore Valley. Chef Tony Murray and Chef Ashley Ullrich are the masterminds behind the ever changing menu. Tony and Ashley work with the fresh, locally grown produce, to craft the creative and flavorful small bites. The menu changes every eight weeks to perfectly reflect the season and terroir. Double Barrel has participated in the last three Taste Our Terroir events and won the Judges Best Pairing in 2012 with McGrail Vineyards and Winery. This year Tony and Ashley have once again joined forces with McGrail and we can’t wait to see what will inspire their pairing.
1) When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?
Tony: My mother was my inspiration and motivator. University of Akron wanted me to “take a semester off”. My mother offered to pay for culinary school if I graduated with a 3.5 GPA.
Ashley: My grandfather is a chef and I grew up eating the best food at home. I took it for granted until I went to friends houses and realized other people ate such boring food and did not share the same passion for making good food. It intrigued me that not everyone got to eat amazing food every day. I was a lucky child.
2) What is terroir to you?
Tony: Terrior determines the unique factors of the regional food and drinks.
Ashley: I relate Terroir to the way I view and taste food. I can taste the terroir of a cheese made with local sheep’s milk. The cheese will be unique to its surroundings and what the sheep eat. I love when a food and wine showcase its Terroir. It makes the exceptional food and wine stand out from the mediocre.
3) Favorite pairing?
Tony: I am a simple kind of guy. Burger and beer.
Ashley: My favorite pairings change constantly. One of my go-to favorites is Thai food and a Auslese Riesling.
4) What is the biggest challenge in food and wine pairing?
Tony: The biggest challenge is to not overwhelm one with the other. The food and wine have to be an equal part of the whole pairing. On their own they can be okay, but together they shoud bring out the best of each other. Finding that balance is the biggest challenge.
Ashley: The biggest challenge is getting everyone who tastes the pairing to see the vision you had for it. Wine and food pairing is very personal and subjective. Not everyone will agree with you. I can pair something that I think is flawless, and 100 people may agree, but 20 might think it was totally off base.
5) Red or White?
Ashley: Yes, please.
6) Favorite meal of the day?
Tony: Any meal where I get to sit and enjoy. Anything that is not rolled in a tortilla or standing when I eat it.
Ashley: Any meal that can be shared with family and friends is the perfect meal. Burgers, caviar, pancakes, doesn’t matter. The company you share during a meal is extremely important. There is no fun in having the best pizza you’ve ever had in your life, if there is no one around to share it with.
7) Go-to meal to make?
Tony: Meatballs, because they seem so simple, but really are not There are so many variations and creations you could make.
Ashley: I love to make things that change a person’s perception of the food. I like to give them a different angle, like turning a classic into something new and interesting.
8) If you could pick one person to cook for you, who would it be?
Tony: My grandmother. She was the best cook. I would gladly cook for her and have her cook for me.
Ashley: I would want my girlfriend to cook me a meal that she came up with all on her own with no help from me.
9) One ingredient you couldn’t live without?
Tony: Imagination. It keeps things interesting.
10)Three words that describe you?
Tony: A grumpy old man… just kidding. Regional, authentic and passionate.
Ashley: Passionate, determined and stubborn as hell.
See what pairing Tony and Ashley prepare with McGrail Vineyards and Winery at Taste Our Terroir on July 24, 2014
Tickets on sale now
$85 advance (by 7/10/14)/ $95 after