Monday, January 26, 2004
Officier Chef Rôtisseur Leo Waldmeier
Dinner with Leo
The Drake’s Executive Chef Leo Waldmeier has, for over twenty-five years, hosted and created a broad spectrum of Big Dinners for the Chicago Chapter. The Drake and Leo have staged countless Induction Ceremonies and the subsequent celebrations of international renown. Leo’s perfectionism and hard work have always made the Gold Coast Room a very special place for our Chapter. The January 26th dinner followed in this tradition and set the stage for an American Dinner – with ingredients coming from all parts of the U.S.A.
Following fireplace hors d’oeuvres in the Palm Court, dinner was served. Vice-Chargé de Presse Honoraire John deMoss was invited to propose the Toast for the evening. A picture perfect Hudson Valley Duck Foie Gras with Blueberry Vinaigrette opened the dinner. Leo is known for the best foie gras in town, and this was no exception. The fairly intense Beringer Nightingale Botrytised 1999 Semillon/Sauvingon Blanc 1999 turned out to be sweet yet not cloying and provided a great combination.
Scrod from Boston spiked with ham from Virginia possessed the character necessary to be embraced and complemented by a Merryvale Chardonnay Starmont Napa Valley 1995 as well as a Flower Andreen-Gale Cuvée 2001. Squab from California and lamb from Montana ensured continued sophistication which was heightened by the dignified service of the red-coated staff, some of whom have been serving the Drake for forty-five years.
Chicago Chapter professional members with regional responsibilities were in attendance, all of whom were there to show their support of Leo. All of whom knew how Leo Waldmeier unfailingly brings each ingredient of a dish to its fullest potential. All of whom knowing how Leo accurately judges the right magic moment of each separate ingredient. It is hard not to feel the pang of nostalgia knowing that these skills have been passed on not only to visiting Sous Chefs and past students working with Leo in the Drake kitchen, but also to Leo’s daughter, Rosemary, who took responsibility - under the protective wing of her father – of producing the dessert for us all in that imposing room – the White House Date Cake.