Chicago Hilton & Towers

Induction Dinner

Monday, April 21, 2008

Executive Chef Thierry Meissonnier*



By Bailli Jane Tracy

The historic Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue hosted the Chicago Chapter’s 2008 induction ceremony and dinner on 21 April.  The Induction Dinner is the high ceremony of Chicago’s gastronomic year – this traditional gala event having been part of the Chicago Chaine’s life for forty years.  General Manager Maître Hôtelier John Wells, Catering Director Maître de Table Hôtelier Ed Chen and Executive Chef Vice-Conseiller Culinaire Honoraire Thierry Meissonnier made sure that we enjoyed a flawless and rather exclusive experience.  Chicago’s professional powerhouses were all there.

Within the Hilton Chicago itself are three very select VIP suites, none of which are available to the general public.  World famous celebrities and icons continue to use these elite suites on top of the Hilton and Hilton Chicago made two of them available especially for us.  The reception took place in one of the newly renovated Imperial Suites.  To have had the opportunity to hold our reception here was a “first” and illustrated how, having the support of the professional body of the Chicago Chaine, enables us to create unique experiences for all members. Three live cooking stations were strategically positioned within the Suite and each station served distinctly different dishes specifically conceived to be paired with three very different Sakes illustrating their versatility.  It was a mini sake tasting with flavors ranging from the spring-like floral tones of a Junmai,Ginjo, Kiminoi Shuzo “Emperor’s Well” through to the calming effect of a Junmai, Daiginjo, Hakuryu Shuzo “White Dragon” that, when confronted with a spicy Tempura Shrimp, completely calmed the palate. 

The Champagne “fix” with Pierre Peters Champagne, Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut en magnum, awaited us as we moved onto our next exceptional privilege – the Induction Ceremony in The Conrad Suite.  Magnificent views of Lake Michigan and the lakefront, and its plush Fifth Avenue apartment style created an opulence conducive to the induction atmosphere itself.  Conseiller Gastronomique des Etats Unis Roger Tracy conducted the induction of sixteen new members, elevated Dames de la Chaine Inez Saunders and Mary Szatkowski to the rank of Commandeur, and Vice-Charge de Presse Honoraire Jon DeMoss to Officier Commandeur.  Visiting national board member Bailli Provincial Southwest Mark Bermann then promoted his daughter Danielle Bermann to the rank of Maitre de Table Hotelier. 

Vice-Conseiller Culinaire Hon. Thierry Meissonnier, Executive Chef, created a menu that reflected the many influences and cultures that have fascinated him and opened our awareness of the flavor influences that comprised his gastronomic legacy.  We moved into shimmering The Waldorf Ballroom where Maitre Hotelier John Wells proposed the toast.  Poached duck magret with hibiscus reduction served with a Pinot Noir, Etude “Heirloom” 2003 was jam-packed with fruit, and was poured alongside a Clos de Tart Domaine Mommessin 1990 which was big, bright with pepper, berries and smoke.  An exotic lamb trio evoking Mediterranean/North African influences was paired with an Elderton “Command” Barossa Valley 2002.  Presentations were imaginative, service and pacing were exemplary and the dedication to success by the whole Hilton Chicago team, uplifting.

Maitre de Table Hotelier Ed Chen – Catering Director - had orchestrated the evening down to the very last detail.  Maitre Hotelier and General Manager John Wells introduced his staffs and vigorous accolades brought a beautiful and unforgettable evening for the Chicago Chaine to a close.