The Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is the world’s oldest and largest international gastronomic society. It is devoted to preserving the camaraderie and pleasures of the table and to promoting excellence in all areas of the hospitality arts.
The society was originally founded in 1248 in Paris as the Guild of Goose Roasters (“Les Oyers”) under Saint Louis, King of France. Over the years, the activities and privileges of the Goose Roasters Guild were extended to preparing and selling all kinds of meat, including poultry, game birds, lamb and venison resulting in the change of Guild’s name to “Rôtisseurs”. In 1610 the Guild was granted a royal charter and its own Coat of Arms, which incorporated on a shield crossed turning spits, in juxtaposition with four larding needles in a field of flame representing the hearth fire. For over four centuries, the “Confrérie” or brotherhood of the Roasters cultivated and developed culinary art and high standards of professionalism and quality – standards befitting the splendor of the “Royal Table” – until the guild system was disbanded, together with all others, in 1793 during the French Revolution.
The Rôtisseurs were almost forgotten until 1950 when Dr. Auguste Becart, Jean Valby, “Prince” Curnonsky and chefs Louis Giraudon and Marcel Dorin sought to restore the Chaîne and the pride of culinary excellence lost during wartime shortages. By permission of the French government, Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was resurrected and the original Coat of Arms was adopted and redesigned to its present form – two chains and a circle of blue with gold fleur-de-lis were added to surround the original shield. The inner chain evokes the pulleys used to turn a spit representing the professional members, the outer chain representing the non-professional members and is symbolic of the bond uniting members of the order and the fleur-de-lis to denote the organizations French roots. A symbolic broche is used during Chaîne induction and elevation ceremonies.
The Chaîne Today
The modern day Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is a global community whose focus is brotherhood, friendship, camaraderie and sharing a passion for the culinary arts. It brings together amateur enthusiasts and professionals – hoteliers, restaurateurs, executive chefs, sommeliers and individuals passionate about the culinary arts from all over the world. With over 25,000 members, the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs has a presence in more than 80 countries bringing together enthusiasts who share the same values for quality, fine dining, the encouragement of the culinary arts and the pleasures of the table. Each year the society sponsors young chef and young sommelier competitions that attract contestants from throughout the world.
Paying tribute to its foundation as a guild of “roasters,” the Chaîne maintains that the greatest culinary heights maybe reached with the simplest of preparations to the finest ingredients. Roasting is the oldest, healthiest, and most universal form of cooking meats. Chaîne dinners often feature various fish, fowl, meat and game prepared by roasting. French cuisine is its inspiration, but not its sole devotion.
The Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs encourages diverse functions celebrating regional and ethnic cuisines to provide members with a broad spectrum of culinary and tasting experiences. Introduced to the country in 1960, the United States maintains a roster of 6,000 members spread in all 50 states and the Caribbean Islands in nearly 125 bailliages (chapters) each offering a variety of culinary activities to suit the interests of local members. Through the Chaîne Foundation, the US organization provides scholarships for students in the culinary and hospitality fields.
The Chicago Chaîne
The Chicago Chapter of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, established in 1963, maintains a roster of around 130 enthusiastic members with a 75%-25% split between non-professionals and professionals, 60%-40% male-female ratio and about the same percentages of under 50/over 50 age brackets. It counts among its professional members and supporters some of the prominent chefs and hospitality industry executives in the city. It holds at least 14 dinner events from September through June of each year, mostly on the third Monday of each month. It is unique among gastronomic societies as it maintains a substantial cellar of fine aged wines in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. The supply of these fine aged wines enhances the overall experience of its dinners.
The Chapter provides a regular scholarship grant to Kendall College. In recognition of the strong relationship, Kendall College has honored Chaîne Chicago by naming one of its training facilities as the “Chaîne Kitchen.”