Monday, October 17, 2011
ROGER TRACY’S GRAND KITCHEN TOUR
Hotel and Club kitchens are amazing places. Staffed by a wide range of culinary professionals, the hotel kitchen simultaneously provides elegant meals for gastronomic societies and special parties, banquets serving hundreds of diners, hotel restaurant outlets, buffets for meeting rooms, room service and staff meals. Hotels, restaurants and clubs change over time and of course their kitchens evolve with them. Our Chapter has conducted grand kitchen tours in 1999 and 2004. The third kitchen tour dinner, masterfully orchestrated by Gastronomique des Etats Unis Hon. Roger Tracy on October 17, 2011, led us in a grand circle from Chicago’s Hotel InterContinental on North Michigan Avenue downtown to the Chicago Club in the Loop, north again to the prize-winning new hotel Elysian Chicago and then to the nearby upscale retirement community, The Clare, and back to the InterContinental, with Brut Champagne NV (GH Mumm, Charles Heidsieck, Marguet Blanc de Noirs, and Roederer Estate) keeping us joyful on the bus between stops.
The evening began with an outdoor group photo of our bailliage raising champagne glasses by the monumental statue of Marilyn Monroe with her skirt famously billowing upward that is currently attracting sightseers on Michigan Avenue. We then quickly made our way indoors where GM Maître Hôtelier Ed Andrews welcomed us to the rotunda lobby of his Hotel InterContinental Chicago to enjoy Duval Leroy & Andre Clouet Gd Reserve NV Champagne. The kitchen feast began with the imaginative hors d’oeuvres of Executive Chef Kurt Mittelberger, who served us carpaccio of scallop, duck prosciutto with seared foie gras, grilled pear with Stilton, salmon wrapped in prosciutto and filo, braised oxtail with bone marrow, and fried frog leg risotto.
A short bus ride brought us to The Chicago Club where GM Maître Hôtelier /Officier Commandeur Frank Stover and Maître de Table Hôtelier Tom Walberg welcomed us into the third-floor kitchen and on a tour of the Club, now in its fifth clubhouse and operating in this location since 1893 and in this very building from 1929. Once an exclusively male club, the first woman welcomed to membership was Hanna Gray when she was President of the University of Chicago. Now there are 1100 members, including numerous corporate CEOs. Portraits of noted past Presidents of the Club featured Robert Todd Lincoln, along with a Field and a Fairbanks, among others. Here we enjoyed Chicago Club Executive Chef Andrew Dunlop’s “Study of the Fall Apple” with four delicious hors d’oeuvres featuring four different varieties of this seasonal fruit: a Beausoleil oyster with little pearls of apple and dill jelly as “caviar”, a Maine scallop, Hiramasa crudo with apple cider gastrique, and Faroe Island salmon tartare. What a thoughtful marriage of land and sea, all washed down with Saviennières Domaine Baumard 2008. Stunning wooden presentation pieces were made especially for this event from a barrel dating from Prohibition days.
Our next stop brought us into the lounge of RIA, a Michelin two-star restaurant in the highly praised Elysian Hotel, where a spread of fantastic charcuterie awaited us: foie gras torchons, terrines and mousses, artisan cheeses and cured meats, and a tarte flambé for good measure. Our hosts here were Maître de Table Hôtelier Attila Gyulai, Brian O’Connor GM RIA, and Executive Chef Danny Grant. As we toured the kitchen, we sipped on our Chaîne cellar’s bin-end selection of Burgundies and Northern Rhône wines of vintages from 1980 to 2004.
Perhaps the most unusual stop was next in The Clare at Water Tower, where we were welcomed by Executive Director Michel Desjardins and Maître de Table Hôtelier Nicole Quaisser. Executive Chef Thomas Schaefer spoke to us in his kitchen about the complexities of serving people with special health needs as well as people who considered him their personal chef. He kindly fills the requests of a varied and demanding clientele serving the needs of all as “their mother, or perhaps their father if your father used to cook.” Under the auspices of the Franciscan Sisters, the Clare is a not-for-profit residence with state-regulated floors with legally-mandated nutritional minimum requirements for continuing care residents and The Grafton Restaurant for independent living residents. After visiting the one kitchen that serves both groups of residents, we ascended to the 53rd floor to enjoy duck confit mille feuille with mango chili, wasabi cotton candy quail breast, and Punjabi turkey skewers with Sapphire gin chai tea. These “Spicy Birds” were paired with Pinot Noir, Alta Maria Vineyards, 2009.
The final stop of the evening was back at the Hotel InterContinental in its ENO’s Wine Bar, once again hosted by the genial Maître Hôtelier Ed Andrews accompanied by Mike Taylor, senior Wine Director at ENO’s. Developing a theme of cheese and chocolate, we enjoyed richly rewarding tastes of four year old Gouda from Holland, Testun al Barolo from Piedmont in Italy, and Rogue smoky blue from Oregon. The seductive, addictive chocolates included Peru dark chocolate 65%, milk almond toffee, and salted chocolate caramels. The accompanying Chaîne cellar bin-end selection of wines included Riesling, Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube Kabinett 2007; Pinot Gris, Marcel Deiss Beblenheim 2003; Zinfandel, Clos du Val Stags Leap 1993; Cabernet Sauvignon, Mondavi Oakville 2005; Banyuls, Vial Magueres Tradition 4 Years Old; and Champagne Laurent-PerrierDemi-Sec. At each venue, a Chaîne plaque was presented to the chef with our heartfelt thanks for delicious and insightful Grand Kitchen Touring.
Hotel and Club kitchens are amazing places. Staffed by a wide range of culinary professionals, the hotel kitchen simultaneously provides elegant meals for gastronomic societies and special parties, banquets serving hundreds of diners, hotel restaurant outlets, buffets for meeting rooms, room service and staff meals. Hotels, restaurants and clubs change over time and of course their kitchens evolve with them. Our Chapter has conducted grand kitchen tours in 1999 and 2004. It is time to get an update.
For this October’s tour we have selected some interesting kitchens for you to visit and to sample their cuisine paired each with a different wine and each kitchen possessing culinary programs designed to respond to their specific clienteles. There will be some walking involved and dishes will be served standing as we have done on past kitchen tours.
• Hotel InterContinental (GM Maître Hôtelier Ed Andrews) Rotunda Lobby for Champagne and hors d’oeuvres 6:00 pm
• The Chicago Club (GM Maître Hôtelier/Officier Commandeur Frank Stover) You will have the opportunity to visit this venerable and historic club whose members are mostly Chicago Corporation CEO’s. Executive Chef Andrew Dunlop will show us his domain
• The Elysian Chicago (Operations Director Maître de Table Hôtelier Attila Gyulai). The original Charlie Trotter designed kitchen supplies all hotel requirements including RIA and Balsan. Executive Chef Denny Grant is taking the restaurants to new heights.
• The Clare (Director of Dining Services Maître Hôtelier Nicole Quaisser) This hi-rise upscale living community caters to owner/residents with a multitude of dietary requirements ably managed by Executive Chef Thomas Schaeffer.
• Hotel InterContinental – ENO’s A contemporary approach to the preparation of a gourmet treasures of cheese and chocolate in a relaxed ambiance to end the evening.
Our luxury motor coach will set out on its tour at 6:30 following reception, returning for cheese, chocolate and wine. Our evening should be complete by 10:30 pm