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Share a Glass with Melissa Tofani from The Oxford Kitchen

The Oxford Kitchen is a highly acclaimed, award winning restaurant in Summertown, North Oxford, with a creative and clever approach to fine dining and modern British Cuisine. Here, Melissa Tofani, the Assistant Manager and Sommelier talks food and wine with us. Find out more about The Oxford Kitchen by visiting their website

What's the best thing about working in a restaurant in Oxford?

Working in a highly ranked restaurant and delivering exceptional customer service makes me feel very proud and happy. My team is highly skilled and very knowledgeable so is it a pleasure for me to see our guests interested and fascinated in front of every dish we serve and explain. I believe it is like walking to a museum to see some art, as a matter of fact food is art.

What's the worst?

Unfortunately, one of the worst part of our job is dealing with unsociable hours. But what's better than a glass of wine after the adrenalin of a busy service? Work hard plays hard.

What's your favourite wine on your list?

Folding Hills Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand, small winery in Bendigo. This pinot noir is pure, full of structure and the bouquet reflects the central Otago personality: savoury, floral, red cherry and delicate plums, slightly oaked for 10 months in French barrels. It is a powerful and elegant wine that I deeply enjoy at the end of one of those services. Chef John loves a cheeky glass every now and then too.

What is your best-selling beverage?

Picpoul de Pinet, Villemarin 2016. Not far from the Mediterranean coastline there is a beautiful area called Languedoc, here Picpoul grows. Fresh, zesty with notes of lime, blossoms and vibrant green apples. It goes beautifully with some of our dishes but it is perfect as an aperitive too. I reckon the perfect meal starts with the aperitif and I recommend it to all our guests.

What's an unmissable food and drink pairing at The Oxford kitchen?

Executive Chef John does this incredible Cornish crab salad dish with heritage tomatoes, brown crab puree and lemon curd. With it I pair Pikes "Hills and Valleys" Riesling from one of my favourite areas in Australia the Clare Valley. It represents the climate, soil and region with very little interference during its formative stage. This sexy Riesling gives us lemon, white peach, honeysuckle aromas and the typical petroleum nose. Guests cannot get enough of it.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would invite all the great chefs I have met and worked with during my career. I've always being inspired by their commitment and hard work plus they are so fun to be around.

What would you cook and which wine would you serve with it?

I would cook some typical food from my area in Piedmont Biella (Italy), something like a game dish with polenta and cheese. One of the easiest tips about wine pairing is: eat local, drink local! Therefore, for this dish I would pair a Nebbiolo based wine called Lessona which is of the smallest DOC areas, based north from Turin. Lessona is also known as the wine of Italy since the Prime minister back 1870 chose it over Champagne to celebrate the national unification of Italy. It is a lighter style compare to Barolo, aromatic full of wild berries and violets, silky and mineral. It is a wine to try if you like Barolo wines.

What's your favourite thing to drink now? What was it ten years ago?

I consider myself as a not complicated drinker, I usually go for the classics! Currently I really enjoy drinking a well-made Gin martini especially if it is made by our bartender at the Oxford Kitchen. 10 years ago? I was not yet in the legal age for drinking but occasionally I would be the naughty girl and order a fresh and juicy Mojito.

What's your guilty pleasure beverage?

People look at me and think WINE, I look at myself on a sunny day off and I think IPAs. "I didn't know you drink beers" I hear this said to me quite often!

If there was one beverage you could remove from the face of the earth, what would it be?

Tequila, unless is with salt and lemon!

The Oxford Kitchen Restaurant offers full à la carte dining at lunchtimes and Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 6pm till late, as well as weekend brunch from 9am to 11.30am on Saturday and Sunday. 

The upstairs dining area is also available to hire for private dining or functions.Call on: 01865 511 149 or e-mail: hello@theoxfordkitchen.co.uk