Interview with Chef Michael Shearin of Drago Centro - Los Angeles, CA

March 2009

Katherine Martinelli: When is it appropriate to pair beer with food? Are you doing any beer pairings at Drago Centro?
Michael Shearin: I think it is appropriate to pair anytime you have someone who is adventurous and wants to try new things. Beer pairings at Drago Centro are only by request as I am taking a traditional Italian approach to our beverage program. We do however have some amazing beers on our list.

KM: How do people respond to beer pairings?
MS: They are usually pleasantly surprised and excited. I mean, beer is delicious!

KM: How do you go about pairing a beer with a dish? (What drives the pairing, the beer or the food?)
MS: I always let the food drive the pairing. I just try to compliment the dish so that the two things together are better than either alone.

KM: Is there anything that you avoid in beer and food pairings?
MS: I just try not to pair a beer that is too bitter with a dish that cannot stand up to that.

KM: Do you have a favorite pairing?
MS: I have always loved the Rogue Black Soba Ale with braised short ribs. One of my favorite beers right now is the Super Baladin, an amber ale from Le Baladin in Northern Italy. I love it with Chef Celestino Drago’s Pheasant Pappardelle.

KM: Are you increasing your beer and food pairings as a response to the economy – i.e. lower price point for customers and lower cost to you?
MS: I have not found a need to increase them here due to the economy because we have priced the entire beverage program with the economy in mind.