with Executive Chef Thomas Lents

Monday, May 16, 2016 –


A Sublime Exploration of Ingredients at Sixteen

BY TODD ARKEBAUER, Vice-Chargé de Presse Photos by Lorenzo Tassone

On May 16, fifty-six Chaîne Chicago members returned to Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel and Tower for a black-tie dinner showcasing Executive Chef Thomas Lents’ thoughtful approach to modern American cuisine. The bailliage last visited Sixteen in February 2012, just weeks after Chef Lents came aboard, and since then this refined dining establishment has received two Michelin stars, five stars from Forbes and the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award. Members were delighted to experience the evolution and elevation of Sixteen’s exquisite food, service and ambiance over the last four years.

For the spring menu at Sixteen, Chef Lents and his team abandoned the traditional tasting menu in favor of providing diners with in-depth study of ingredients in a variety of preparations through a progression of dishes. Chaîne Chicago enjoyed highlights from the family of lobster, the fish and shellfish of the Brittany Coast, a season’s thistles, a study of poultry, and varieties of asparagus and spring alliums.

The evening opened with an al fresco reception on the sixteenth-floor wrap-around terrace with its unparalleled views of the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, the Wrigley Building’s clock tower, and the neo-Gothic flying buttresses of the Tribune Tower. Polished servers poured 2009 Delavenne Père & Fils Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé and passed beautifully composed canapés of potato, leek and caviar from the alliums study; sour cherry, smoked foie gras and squab from the exploration of poultry; and beignets with salmon roe and chive.

Members next moved into the stunning restaurant with its 30-foot high windows and domed ceiling adorned with Swarovski chandeliers. After Chevalier Steven Vinezeano greeted attendees with a welcoming toast and Bailli Mon Roldan introduced recently inducted members, the epicurean extravaganza commenced.

To begin, members were treated to sea trout mi cuit with variations of spring peas and rhubarb in several forms as well as chilled Maine lobster with white asparagus and lemon verbena. A 2014 Austrian Grüner Veltliner beautifully complemented these courses.

To continue, attendees sampled a highlight from the thistle study—violet artichoke with buckwheat dumpling and jamón iberico, as well as another allium-centric dish with wild ramps, morels, chicken oysters and escargot. A lovely 2008 French Chenin Blanc from Domaine des Baumard Savennières enhanced these courses, exhibiting notes of white fruit and mango with pleasing minerality and acidity.

To follow, members were served additional delectable variations of lobster and allium: cold water langouste and a classic onion soubise were accompanied by bone marrow and a red wine sauce. Magnums of 1986 Cabernet Franc—Clos de l’Echo from Couly-Dutheil—enhanced this outstanding offering. Next, the study of asparagus continued—green and white varieties along with a charred asparagus sauce complemented succulent Four Story Hills veal with a vin jaune sabayon, which paired nicely with 1989 Bordeaux blend from Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.

To conclude, members were treated to another appearance of rhubarb along with early season red and green strawberries and pistachio. Finally, members delighted in a rich chocolate dessert that highlighted several blooming spring flowers, wildflower honey and chamomile. W. & J. Graham’s 30-Year Old Tawny Port harmonized wonderfully with the desserts.

The outstanding wines from the famed Chicago Chaîne cellar were served with expert oversight from Sixteen’s outstanding sommelier, Parag Lalit. Chef Lents graciously provided food commentary throughout the evening, and Chevalier Todd Fisher provided insights into the wine pairings.

As the evening concluded, Bailli Mon Roldan thanked the Sixteen team before he presented a commemorative Chaîne plaque to Chef Lents. Certificates of merit were awarded to Mr. Lalit, uber-talented Executive Sous Chef Nick Dostal (previously at Chaîne favorite Grace restaurant), Pastry Chef Evan Sheridan and the Assistant Director of Restaurants, Doug Kahn, who was responsible for Chaîne Chicago’s return to Sixteen. Attendees were thrilled to participate in this exciting gastronomic exploration of ingredients and new flavor profiles, surely one of the finest events of the bailliage’s 50th anniversary season!


20 April 2016

Cher Confrères and Consœurs,



MONDAY, MAY 16, 2016

Our next dinner date is at intimate Sixteen on May 16th.  Executive Chef Thomas Lents promises to treat us to an unforgettable fine dining experience at this two Michelin star rated gem with exceptional views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and the Wrigley Clock Tower.  Chef Lents will serve us a specially crafted multi course offering based on his newly introduced Spring menu entitled, “Sixteen: A Study in Ingredients.”  With a focus on the foundation of fine dining, the menu will spotlight the diverse nature and versatility of individual ingredients.  It will reflect various forms of inspiration and themes drawn from in depth studies of:  The Family of Lobster, The Fish and Shellfish of the Brittany Coast, The Variety of Game, A Study of Poultry, Variations of Vanilla, A Season’s Abundance of Citrus, and The Bounty of the Root Cellar.  Expect an equally unparalleled wine pairing from our cellar. 

Chef Lents is no stranger to Chaîne Chicago.  He first cooked for our group on February 20, 2012, barely a month after he took over the stoves of the then one Michelin star rated Sixteen.  He has not only retained that star, but indeed, added one!  Chef Lents presents innovative menu programming that marries the details and qualities of traditional fine dining with his own modern style and culinary perspective.  Prior to Sixteen, Chef Lents was the chef de cuisine of the Michelin three star rated, five-diamond Joël Robuchon at the Mansion in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.  He was the first American to hold that position!  ‘Nough said. . . it’s high time that we trek back to his kitchen.

I urge you to join me in renewing a deeply personal relationship with an exceptionally talented chef at one of the hidden gems of fine dining right in the heart of this city.  Seating to this intimate culinary experience is very limited.  Please register as soon as you receive this invitation!


Mon Y. Roldan

Bailli de Chicago