Didier Ageorges' passion for cuisine was first evident at the age of ten with his mastery of his mother's family recipe for Black Forest Cake. Even at the age of thirteen he knew that he wanted to turn this avocation into a career and entered culinary technical school in his native France.
Graduating in his teens, he apprenticed at resort hotels in Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana. Learning to tame the wild South American ingredients sparked his global vision of cooking-triggered by the eye-widening task of preparing many of the indigenous reptiles.
Returning to France in the 80s, first to Paris, he worked with several talented chefs before moving to the bountiful and beautiful Mediterranean coast of Cannes. Ten more years in Biarritz set the tone for his cooking style that he now calls, "Cooking of the Sun"-a blend of Mediterranean / Basque / Côte d'Azur. During this time, he won three prestigious national artistic cuisine awards.
It is only natural that Chef Didier would yield to the sirenic call of California. Our palette of ingredients is an exhilarating temptation. Specifically, San Francisco held a particular culinary allure. Its multi-ethnic communities, with their varied cuisines and preparation techniques, can provide a chef with an unparalleled learning experience. It was his post at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco and his association with Sommeliers (and countrymen) Stephane Lacroix and Yves Sauboua that ultimately connected him with Fred Furth.
The opportunity to settle in Sonoma County is a natural step in his culinary career. Sonoma County's width and breadth is home to such biodiversity that it supports artisanal producers including all forms of organic and sustainable farming: dairies, cheesemakers, family "truck farms," gourmet mushroom growers, and even the foremost authority on garlic varieties.
At Chalk Hill, Chef Didier works closely with the Estate Culinary Gardener, who tends the family's one-acre organic garden and delivers to the Chalk Hill kitchens a year-round offering of sublimely fresh and varied heir-loom cultivars. This meshes nicely with Chef Didier's philosophy of cooking: "I look at the main ingredient and build on it by adding a texture, or a perfume, but never too many ingredients. When you try to use everything, you end up with nothing."
Going beyond the garden, Didier forages for wild delicacies with Mark Lingenfelder, the Estate Vineyard Manager. Mark's intimate knowledge of the estate alerts Chef Didier to a vale of stinging nettles and later to the bloom of wild mushrooms under the heritage century oaks. Food directly from the estate reinforces his and the wine's connection to the land-this special spot in a corner of Sonoma County.
Designing menus around the wines is a new approach for him. "In my previous career, wines were always selected to accompany the food, which had been chosen first. At Chalk Hill we match food to the wine. The wine must always be the star and the food the supporting players.With such great wines and foodstuffs at Chalk Hill it is easy to put together a great cast to entertain at the table."
Naturally upbeat and energetic, Didier keeps active as an avid runner and cyclist. His vagabonding treks have taken him to locales as varied as the sultry Costa Rican jungles and the lofty peaks of the Himalayas. He loves to travel as much for its ethnological edification as for the stimulus of the sport.