Monday, February 27, 2006
With Chef Rôtisseur Terry Crandall – Executive Chef
Bailli Honoraire Howard A. Gardner Becomes Grand Commandeur Receives Médaille Présidentielle at The Peninsula Chicago
For anyone contemplating forty years of membership in the most venerable of gastronomic societies, February 27th was a big day. The Chicago Bailliage had organized a tribute to Bailli Honoraire/Grand Commandeur Howard A. Gardner in “Avenues”, The Peninsula Chicago’s fine dining restaurant. Howard was inducted into the Chicago Chapter in 1966 by Bailli George Rezek, and eventually led the Chapter himself as the Bailli of Chicago from 1986 onwards for ten purist years, instituting many serious committees to encompass all activities surrounding food, wine, awards and membership development. This resulted in a Chapter that steadfastly adhered to high culinary principles without compromise. It is perhaps accurate to say that Howard would regard these forty years as “a tribute to courage and stamina.” Secrecy and stealth, however, resulted in the procurement of the actual induction photograph, blown up for all to see, and prominently displayed in the centre of the room.
Family and friends looked on as Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique Bob Beilfuss made a magnificent toast. Bailli Heinz Kern then gave his own personal Bronze Star of Excellence to Dame de la Chaîne Marj Gardner for her grace and support. Accolades and thanks to Howard Gardner followed. The formal ceremony of being promoted to Grand Commandeur of La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, was officiated by Conseiller Gastronomique des États Unis Roger Tracy. Without losing the integrity of the moment he went on to announce that Bailli Délégué Joe Caruso had charged him with the responsibility of presenting the very highest award – the Médaille Présidentielle - to Chicago’s new Grand Commandeur
for unique and significant service to the Chaîne. The legendary Champagne Krug Grande Cuvée found another good reason to earn its exclusivity as this prestigious award was put in place.
A series of expressionist dishes had been planned by “Avenues” Chef de Cuisine Graham Elliott Bowles and placed upon tables that had been decorated in a style that alluded to a scientist’s laboratory. Vice-Chargé de Mission/Caviste Bruce Foudree and Vice-Chancelier Argentier Honoraire/Commandeur Jeanne Cahill gave the wine and food commentaries respectively, revealing the landscape of the dinner. Some stunning wines had been chosen that included a 1991 Côtes Brune et Blonde Guigal Côte Rotie - the ‘roasted slope’, where a Feudal Lord had named the slopes after each of his two daughters – one a brunette, the other a blond. This harmonious product revealed the subtleties of Northern Rhône wine. Also poured was a traditional Domaine Charvin Châteauneuf du Pape 2003 that proved to be rich and suave thanks to a very hot 2003 in France, baking the stony soil in the day with the stones staying warm all night resulting in exquisitely ripe fruit.
It was memorable evening for the Gardner family and those amongst us who have been the recipients of the hard work, dedication and camaraderie that Howard’s leadership brought to the Chicago Bailliage.