The making of a Chaîne des Rotisseurs dinner

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The Chaîne des Rotisseurs is the oldest gourmet group in the world.  Having its origin as the Guild of Goose Roasters, dating back to 1248, the Chaîne has a rich history.

The old French Royal Guild of Goose Roasters was gradually expanded to include the roasting of all poultry, meat and game.  In 1248, King Louis IX assigned Etienne Boileau, the Provost of Paris, with the task of bringing order into the organization of trades and guilds, among them the Goose Roasters.

In 1509, during the reign of King Louis XII, some new statutes were introduced, which resulted in the change of the name of the guild to “Rôtisseurs” and its activities were restricted to poultry, game birds, lamb and venison.  In 1610, under King Louis XIII, the guild was granted a royal charter and its own coat of arms.

For over four centuries the “Confrérie” or brotherhood of the Roasters cultivated and developed culinary art and high standards of professionalism and quality – standards befitting the splendor of the “Royal Table” – until the guild system was disbanded in 1793 during the French Revolution.

The Rôtisseurs were almost forgotten until 1950 when Dr. Auguste Becart, Jean Valby and the self-styled “Prince” Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland), and chefs Louis Giraudon and Marcel Dorin resurrected the Society and created La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

With that history, it is no wonder that the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is devoted to promoting fine dining and preserving the camaraderie and pleasures of the table.

The head of the local chapter (‘Bailli’) is Ranjith Chandrasiri and I was fortunate to be asked to join him on a Chaîne tasting before the forthcoming Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dinner to be held at Gian’s Italian restaurant.

The ‘team’ consisted of Ranjith, myself and Guido Vietri, the owner of Gian’s.  We began, as the Chaîne members would begin, with canapés and an NV Follador Prosecco, and from there to be seated formally at the tables which were set with four wine glasses and cutlery settings for four courses.

The first wine was a Cavallina Grillo Pinot Grigio 2009, correctly chilled and universally enjoyed by the three of us.  This was drunk with the first course, an apple salad with Robiola cheese and almonds.  After discussion, it was decided that for the forthcoming dinner, Guido would reduce the amount of the apple slices, considering that there were some more ‘heavy’ courses to come.

The next offering was avocado and Pata Negra ham combined with a Sartori Valpolocella Classico.  This was certainly a good combination, with the wine able to ‘cut’ into the smoothly thick avocado.

The following course was very Italian with home-made ravioli with ricotta cheese, porcini mushroom and black truffle.  Discussion ensued as to how many drops of truffle oil would be best to heighten the flavor.  It was obvious that nothing was being left to chance!

To go with this dish, the first wine we were offered was a Villa Pallino Tenuta Sette Ponti Chianti, but this was decided to be too abrasive on the palate, so a bottle of Farnese Bio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was opened.  This was also deemed as not suitable and Guido went to his cellar and smilingly returned with a Feudi di San Marzano Negroamaro Puglia 2009.  This one got the nod!

After that little lot, it was certainly time for a breather and Guido provided a wonderful lemon sherbet with champagne.  Freshened the palate, and the mind!

Now ready for the main course, a very long skewer with Australian Angus beef, New Zealand lamb, chicken, Italian sausage and fried potatoes, arrived.  Even two choices of sausage were tried, but the Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza wine was universally popular.

The finish was a Tiramisu and a Grappa, and I have to admit I was ‘finished’ too!

It was very impressive to see the cooperation being given by Guido and his chef Od, who would happily return to his kitchen to present a different style of sausage, for example.  The concept as promoted by the brotherhood of Roasters in developing the culinary art and high standards of professionalism and quality are still alive today in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.