Monday, November 24, 2008
Executive Chef Rotisseur Kevin Hickey*
A Dinner “As Good As It Gets” from Four Seasons’ ExecutiveChef, Chef Rôtisseur Kevin Hickey
One of the greatest dinners our chapter has ever enjoyed featured one brilliant course after another grounded in classic French cuisine and masterfully updated by Chef Kevin Hickey at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. For the great range of “worth-belonging-to-the-Chaîne–just-for-this-course” flavors, beautiful presentations, flawless service, and inspired wine pairings, this experience was in a class by itself.
Hors d’oeuvres ranged from succulent profiterôles of chicken liver mousse to poached quail eggs over pork belly served on spoons and luscious duck rillettes Croque Monsieur, accompanied by Champagne André Clouet Grande Réserve Brut. Bailli de Chicago Jane Tracy welcomed new General Manager Denise Flanders. Conseiller Gastronomique des Etats-Unis Hon. Roger Tracy raised a toast to the Four Seasons and its two Chicago properties that have served us great dinners over so many years.
The first course of braised pig trotter filled with mousse of chicken and sweetbreads with a puree of green apple and potato on a salad of Granny Smith apple and celery leaves, was an homage to British chef Marco Pier White. The accompanying Champagne Montaudon Classe M artisanal champagne, “classic yet casual” matched successfully with a wide range of flavors.
The Dover sole Veronique wrapped around a Nantucket Bay scallop with essence of absinthe drew forth the comment, “It was worth coming to this dinner just for this course.” Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2007 married New Zealand to the cliffs of Dover. Sighs of bliss continued with the Maine lobster in Sauce Américaine wrapped in lobster mushrooms and crepes and covered in white truffles (1.1 pound was used!), an homage to Chef Fernand Point and his unforgettable restaurant Pyramide in Vienne, France. This course was paired with a rich, complex Mueller Chardonnay Reserve 1999. After duck magret scented with oranges and a lovely Domaine Jacques Prieur Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1996, the tournedos Rossini with its proud brioche “sail,” foie gras, potato and artichoke galette and truffles brought more outbursts of “this dish is as good as it gets!” Tender prime Illinois corn-fed beef starred in this elegant dish, and Château Ducru-Beaucaillou St. Julien 1995 matched its superlative flavors. A tasting of three French blue cheeses was presented with unusual creativity: sweet potato in white port merged with Bleu de Berger, a creamy camembert-style blue cheese, while a Banyuls-poached pear set off the Bleu du Bocage. Château Suduiraut Sauternes 1988 paired nicely with the blends of fruits and cheese.
Charlotte with five apples glorified Crabapple, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji and Jonagold in confit, gelée, purée, ice cream and sweet-tart chips to the accompanying bubbles of Champagne Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec NV. Even the chocolate mignardises were paired to sybaritic perfection with Barao de Vilar Port Colheita 1997.
Executive Chef Kevin Hickey gave the food commentary, while Vice-Chancelier/Argentier Aren Fairchild discussed the wines. Chef Hickey was presented with a decanter and a fine bottle from our cellar with instructions: “Store it upright for one week, remove the cork two hours before drinking, and enjoy.”
General Manager Denise Flanders introduced the banquet team and culinary team to well-earned applause. We learned that this handsome Seasons Restaurant space will become a banquet room in 2010, with a new hotel restaurant opening off the main lobby. Chef Hickey was praised for addressing the future with his innovations on classical French cuisine—-from duckling à l’orange to sole with grapes, for his relaxed manner, and for his generous and meticulous care of us, his highly appreciative diners.