Monday, September 23, 2002
Chef Rôtisseur Executive Chef - Peter Liavas
A Feast of Talent
There is nothing quite like knowing the Chaîne is in good hands. That was the sentiment as the Chicago Chapter started its new series of dinners on a perfect September evening. Eighty floors up within the landmark AON Center in Chicago and the second tallest structure in the city, the Mid-America Club dramatically opened its doors to twenty-four members visiting from the Houston Chapter.
We welcomed Argentier des Etats Unis Michael Parmet and Dame de la Chaîne Mary Alice Parmet, Bailli Provincial, Southwest and Bailli de Houston, Mark and Mary Helen Bermann, Chargée de Presse Etats Unis Honoraire Ede Weiner, Vice Echanson Bruce Weiner, Chargé de Presse Provincial Honoraire and Vice-Chargée de Presse John and Helene Burris, Vice-Conseiller Culinaire and Dame de la Chaîne Ed and Dolores Pavelek, Bailli de Beaumont and Officier Pat and Frank Daleo as well as twelve other Dames de la Chaîne and Chevaliers. This gave the Chicago Chapter members the opportunity to mingle and meet new Chaîne friends. General Manager of the Mid-America Club Nicole Quaisser along with Executive Chef Peter Liavas and his staff had prepared quite an evening. The room glittered and the cloudless skies lent a sharp contrast to the city’s panorama unfolding below.
Following exquisite and original hors d’oeuvres, Argentier des Etats Unis Michael Parmet offered the toast. Bailli Provincial Southwest Mark Bermann recounted Houston’s adventures in The Second City and how the organization of the trip to Chicago had been a fun experience for all of them.
Dinner then opened with a fluffy timbale studded with poached veal sweetbread and escargot, a shrimp/lobster sauce its moat. The golden ten-year old Daniel Etienne Defaix Chablis “Les Lys” was flinty and an excellent match. A “lips stick together” wild game consommé came next. Its composition of pheasant, goose and duck released an interplay of flavors between the game and foie gras ravioli. Sliced black truffle and chervil served as garnish.
The sensory experience gained from the seared sea bream and its perfect Bordelaise sauce juxtaposed with braised Belgian endive certainly inspired not only the palate but also the thought process. There was a subtle yet flamboyant sensation attached to this dish, and the Remoissenet Chassagne Montrachet “La Romanée” 1994 handled the endive and Bordelaise influence by bringing out the acidity in the wine and yet calmed the sensations when confronted by the braised juices of chicken stock and cream.
The fourth course of a roulade of Poussin ratchetted the dinner up another notch. This was a big dish and had been prepared with tiny brown lentils, pancetta and oven roasted corn. A Sauternes reduction that also included sherry wine vinegar, demi-glace and Porcini mélange needed the Rasmussen Pinot Noir Reserve Carneros 1996 to stand up to it.
An extraordinary Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 offered a soft and opaque experience, its temperature steady - readying itself to interact successfully with the seared and roasted venison. Chef Liavas’ intellectual coherence and culinary acumen had become apparent. Precise and organized food and wine commentary, peppered with knowledge and wit, was delivered by Vice-Chancelier Argentier Jeanne Cahill and Vice-Charge de Missions/Caviste Charles Lockhart.
General Manager of the Mid-America Club, Nicole Quaisser introduced her staff and also the newly appointed Executive Chef, Peter Liavas. Splendid accolades followed for this young man, his seriousness and talent. He had produced the best ingredients, shown a respect for food and with an absence of fuss. His leadership shone, and at the end of the evening you knew that classical French cuisine was alive and well up there in the stratospheric realms of the Mid-America Club, Chicago.