Monday, April 11, 2005
Robert Sulatycky* - Executive Chef
Dinner of Culinary Art At Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
High art cuisine has the tendency of reaching particularly dazzling heights of incoherence. No so, chez the brilliant Chef Rôtisseur Robert Sulatycky – Executive Chef of Chicago’s Four Seasons Hotel. The Chicago Chapter experienced interludes of enforced concentration coupled with an atmosphere that only can be found amongst enthusiasts of like-minds during the April dinner. For the intellectually pristine this dinner intimated that perfection could well be a tangible reality particularly as tasting notes were provided for each diner – depicting images of each dish, an explanation of ingredients and the wine pairing choices – a signal of what was to be delivered.
The 300 year old vineyard of Jean Veselle and its Grand Cru Bouzy 1995 established a charm and elegance that remained present throughout the evening, and accompanied an array of perfectly sized hors d’oeuvres ranging from a purée of fiddlehead soup with lemon froth to Balik salmon on a cucumber brunoise. As always at a Four Seasons establishment, the service was of a level valued by the discerning consumer. Discretion, efficiency and professionalism permeated the atmosphere.
Vice-Chargé de Missions Mon Roldan and Chevalier Bruce Foudree had paired and chosen unsurpassed levels of wines for Chef’s dishes and the Corton-Charlemagne Domaine Delarche Grand Cru 2002 illustrated why it is considered one of the top white Burgundies. The springtime fresh crayfish and morel dish nestling in a shallow, hollowed-out plate, its “Americaine” sauce making a demure statement, epitomized the bond between France and the U.S. as Chevalier Bruce Foudree’s wine commentary revealed. A French chef, whilst working in the U.S.A., created this successful lobster meat sauce naming it after the country in which it was born.
Vice-Conseiller Culinaire Frederic Castan – Chicago’s Hotel Sofitel Water Tower Executive Chef – tantalized the dining room with professional insider information as to how the intricate Sonoma Squab course had been put together. The stages necessary to achieve this innovation and precision reinforced our awareness of what it takes to put on a really first-class Chaîne dinner. The “Sorcerer’s Bouquet” of the Musigny, Domaine Jacques Prieur Grand Cru 1995 left little wonder that this wine earns the reputation of a leading, fine Musigny. A very young Washington State spring lamb was presented with a reduction of its natural juices and was paired with the handsome Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982 – this 1ere Cru exhibiting the elegance and finesse that is commensurate with probably the most famous vineyard in the world. The Fourme au Sauternes cheese from Belgium that had been washed for numerous weeks in Sauternes wine was part of the in vogue portion of the menu – pairing it with the Cérons, Château Huradin 1988 – a honeyed white nectar “in the style” of Sauternes. The golden and luscious Château Guiraud 2001 was served with apple pie, “deconstructed” , composed of three elements – an apple gelée, a warm soup in a shot glass, and a compote resulting in the classic becoming very contemporary indeed.
It was my impression that virtually everyone in the room that night anticipated each course with the same inquisitive and curious attitude. The textures, colors, and arrangements on the plate were varied and subtle. Labor intensive garnishes, attention to detail and plate shapes gave our eyes a series of art forms to consider in this culinary repertoire. But perhaps this sort of innovation is understandable to those of us whose complicated hobby it is to study and enjoy arresting feats of gastronomy. Accolades were vigorous for this talented and dedicated chef who had presented a palette of striking shades, textures and tastes for Vice-Chargé de Missions Honoraire/General Manager Hans Willimann and his well-respected Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago.