The Swissotel

Holiday dinner & Induction

Monday, December 13, 2010

General Manager Tim Herman* & Executive Chef Dan McGee*



By Ethel Gofen, Officier Dame de la Chaîne

A festive reception at the Swissotel Chicago on December 13, 2010 put everyone in the mood for celebration as we enjoyed five quite original hors d’oeuvres: comté profiterole with celery root purée, onion caraway cappuccino, smoked pig’s trotters with collard greens, butternut squash purée on a pistachio cracker, and cured salmon. Our excellent choice of champagne was Gaston Chicquet Brut Tradition NV.

The induction of twenty-two new members took place in a formal yet intimate ceremony as our former Bailli, now Conseiller Gastronomique des Etats-Unis Honoraire, Roger Tracy traced the history of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and explained the symbols in its logo including the flames, larding needles, rotisserie, and chains. He extolled the many benefits of membership such as enabling us to make friends around the Chaîne world, he reviewed the table rules and customs of the Chaîne (ie., no salt and no bread on the table) while expounding on the history of salt and ketchup, he predicted future growth for the Chaîne perhaps even into India and China, and he thanked newly elevated Commandeur Steven A. Kaplan for handling the sound for this event. Bailli Jane Tracy congratulated the 22 new members and also the five being elevated and two more members transferring or rejoining our chapter, and she especially thanked our professional members for their support and for using their many talents on our behalf and bringing great richness to our organization. After repeating the Chaîne Oath in unison, the new members came one at a time to the stage to be dubbed with a broche while Roger inducted them with the traditional French ceremonial language. Proudly wearing their new Chaîne ribbons, they posed for a group photograph.

We then left the flatlands of Chicago and magically entered a dining area transformed by projected images on the walls into an elegant mountainous retreat for a feast worthy of the grand Swiss tradition of hospitality. Swarovski crystal globes glistened in the gorgeous mirrored centerpieces. General Manager of the Swissotel Maître Hôtelier Timothy Herman raised a welcoming toast to great cuisine, great wines and to our guests. An elegant poached Maine lobster and foie gras mousse course was matched with 2008 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Reserve Personnelle, followed by a clever combination of Asiago gnocchi, king crab, sweetbread croutons, and parsnip paired with 2006 Jermann Tunina. This wine, a blend of five grapes, matched well both the richness of the gnocchi and the delicacy of the king crab.

A breast and confit leg of squab dressed with winter truffles were intriguingly paired with two mystery wines, eliciting much discussion of their identity and origin—-Old World or New? We were delighted to discover eventually that they were a 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg and a 2008 Shea Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard. Two different vintages of the same wine were paired with the next two courses. First 1990 Château Figeac accompanied a hearty lamb loin and shank crusted with Black Trumpet mushrooms, while we enjoyed the 1985 vintage of the same wine with a Stilton savarin adorned with arugula salad, frisée, lardons, pickled red onion and prosciutto crisps. (Robert Parker has called the 1990 Figeac one of the best vintages around and has assigned the 1985 an 83 score). The fabulous dessert was comprised of apples prepared three ways involving Calvados, white wine, and Verjus, alongside carrot cake and tarragon ice cream. What divine flavors, especially when accompanied by our NV Champagne Billiot Rosé!

Bailli Jane Tracy offered hearty thanks to her leadership team: Vice-Conseiller Culinaire David Danielson for the food commentary, Simeon “Mon” Roldan, who discussed the wine selections, Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique Deborah Gross for help with logistics, Vice-Chargé de Missions Frederic Lane for helping to bring in so many new members, Vice Chargée de Presse Nadia Gould for work with Chaîne publications and our website, and (please add) for organizing the Ordre Mondial events. She then thanked the Swissotel team, asking General Manager Maître Hôtelier Timothy Herman to introduce his staff and banquet team. We especially thanked the hugely talented Executive Chef, Chef Rôtisseur Dan McGee for allowing 112 of us to attend this feast, as well as Banquet Director Claire Fitzpatrick for her gracious assistance in creating such an extraordinary event. A gift box of delicious pastries accompanied each diner home, along with memories of a most convivial and luscious holiday dinner.


The Induction Dinner is the high ceremony of our gastronomic year – and this gala event is a tradition for our Chapter where high ceremony, elegance and gastronomy depict the hallmarks of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
Our host for the evening will be Swissotel Chicago. The Swissotel Chicago is very supportive of our organization and we have two professional members at this property led by General Manager Maître Hôtelier Timothy Herman who is working hard to make sure that we all enjoy a stunning and memorable evening. The theme of the evening will depict one of an elegant and contemporary Swiss chateau high in the Swiss Alps.

Our entire evening will take place in the newly created 50,000 square foot Event Center which has its own private exterior entrance on the east side. Valet parking will be made available at this entrance. The reception will take place on the spacious second floor with the Induction Ceremony to follow in Montreux Room. The Induction will be officiated by Conseiller Gastronomique des Etats Unis Honoraire – Roger Tracy. Together with sword, he will induct new members into the Confrérie, carry out elevations and promotions and confer status on those who have been members for 20 years or more. Members in attendance, who have transferred in from other Chapters, will also be welcomed and introduced.

Executive Chef, Chef Rôtisseur Dan McGee has assembled a top quality team to work in his highly equipped and state of the art kitchen, and has planned a menu of cutting edge, refined luxury dishes to commemorate the induction of new members and the celebration of the holidays for the Chicago Chaine. Chef McGee is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and trained in Paris, France and Basel, Switzerland. Before joining the Swissotel, Dan was formally at Nikko Chicago, and was the Executive Chef at the Mid‐America Club.

This gala evening promises to be in the true tradition of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs worldwide. We intend to pour exceptional vintage wines that include a Premier Grand Cru classé Bordeaux and a Grand Cru Burgundy wine from the Chicago Chaîne cellar. Please join us to welcome new members and to celebrate friendship and conviviality