Did you know that not only do food flavors influence a wine's taste, but aromas from different foods and even spices also impact the taste of a particular wine.

Kim Pitchford demonstrated this concept recently at a wine tasting and pairing held at her Dine by Design kitchen in Grayton Beach.

Those at the event traveled from between three different tasting stations and were able to experience for themselves the different combinations and the effect the aromas have on the palate.

Red snapper crudo, yuzu, hazelnut, fresno, and sorbet were available at the first table and paired with a Gewurztraminer.

At the next table, samplers found braised beef short rib croquette, manchego, and beurre rouge, which was paired with Tempranillo.

And, at the third table was roasted duck breast, polenta, and black cherry mustard paired with pinot noir.

Pitchford learned while in France about how aromas and various flavors such as rose lychees, cherries, and spices affect pairings and the ability to pinpoint flavors in wine.

"The more flavors you keep in your head and nose, the more wine you will taste," Pitchford explained, as guests were urged to sniff first.   

Pitchford spent 18 year working in the software business, but when things began to change in her life and in the software business, she felt it was time for a lifestyle change.

"Everything changed in my life and I was doing some consulting. Instead of asking myself what I wanted to be, I asked myself what I loved to do. I had always cooked and cooked well. I recognized that and took out a student loan and enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan," she said.

Pitchford completed an apprenticeship in Paris at a Michelin-starred restaurant. During that time she traveled throughout Europe.

While she has lived in several countries and states, Pitchford chose to return to Florida, and opened the doors of Dine by Design Catering in Grayton Beach in March 2006. Since then she has catered events from Pensacola to St. George Island, and in her spare time she is working on a book.

While the chef says the flavors of the Mediterranean Italy, Spain, France, and North Africa, as well as lamb and salads are her favorite, what she enjoys cooking most is whatever makes her clients, family, and friends happy.

"I am not fussy," she said. "I focus on ingredients I can simmer, and meat I can slow roast. But I most enjoy cooking food my guests like and giving pleasure to others, as I believe most chefs do."  

Pitchford says she has no regrets about her decision to leave the business world behind for the creative, challenging, and soul-satisfying world of feeding people.

"Every day that goes by confirms for me how remarkably suited I am for this work, and how delighted I am with the decision I made. I've been fortunate to work with some fabulous people over the years, from photographers, wedding planners, florists, my clients, brides, grooms, and that most put-upon creature, the mother of the bride. I look forward to at least another half dozen years doing the very same thing," she said.

For more information on Dine by Design's catering services or upcoming classes, call 231-2461 or visit www.dinebydesigncateringinc.com.