Holiday Gala and Induction / Elevation Ceremony

Give "Free Rein" to Celebration!

Monday, December 17, 2018 –

6:00 PM Induction and Elevation
6:45 PM Welcome Reception
7:30 PM Dinner

Free Rein
St. Jane Hotel
224 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601

Tel: (312) 334-6700

Dress Code: Black Tie, with Decorations for Members

Executive Chef Aaron Lirette


Induction and Holiday Gala at Free Rein

By Vice Echanson Todd Arkebauer | Photos by Lorenzo Tassone

On December 17, 2018, 76 Chicago Chaîne members celebrated the holiday season with Executive Chef Aaron Lirette at Free Rein, his acclaimed new Michigan Avenue eatery in The St. Jane Hotel. Located within the historic Carbide and Carbon skyscraper—fittingly shaped like a Nebuchadnezzar of Champagne—this Art Deco masterpiece was an inspired venue for the festive black-tie Induction and Holiday Gala Dinner.

Midwest Bailli Provincial Renee Wilmeth inducted six Dames de la Chaîne and elevated two members to officer positions. Attendees then gathered in Free Rein for a convivial reception. Ayala Champagne flowed freely as polished servers passed delectable canapés, including whitefish toast, ocean trout tartare, and pork terrine.

Following the reception and welcoming toast, a custom-crafted, five-course dinner commenced with expertly paired wines from Chaîne Chicago’s fabled cellar. Highlights included Chef Aaron’s delectable dry-aged duck breast with braised red cabbage, chestnuts, and cranberries that paired brilliantly with a red Bordeaux blend: 1994 Château Montrose. As a nod to the Chaîne’s French culinary roots, Executive Pastry Chef Evan Sheridan created a scrumptious Bûche de Noël, its chocolate and quince flavors enhanced by a 30-year-old tawny Port from Barão de Vilar.

Our newly elevated officers—Vice Chargée de Missions Wanda Grant and Vice Chargé de Media Sociaux Karl Krout—provided insightful food and wine commentary throughout the evening. The festivities concluded with guests indulging in a selection of fine aged rums while Bailli Beth Roldan thanked the terrific Free Rein team.

Legend says the Burnham Brothers designed their 1929 Champagne bottle-shaped tower to flout Prohibition. True or not, this bold, playful spirit permeated the Induction and Holiday Gala Dinner, making for an exceptional event that drew upon our global organization’s hallmarks of tradition, elegance and the finest gastronomy.


The Chicago Chaîne is thrilled to be teaming up once again with Michelin-starred Chef Aaron Lirette for one of our most anticipated events of the season. Formerly of the lauded Green River, Chef Lirette is now helming Free Rein in the St. Jane Hotel, located in the iconic Carbide & Carbon building on Michigan Avenue. Inspired by the raucous fun of early French brasseries, Free Rein offers elevated fare that combines French influence with New American style.

For our annual holiday gala, Chef Lirette is crafting a custom, five-course menu to pair with exceptional wines from the Chicago Chaîne’s cellar. The holiday reception and dinner will be preceded by an induction and elevation ceremony for our newest members and officers, conducted by Midwest Bailli Provincial Renee Wilmeth.

Vive La Chaîne!