Sublime Beginnings - A Grand Induction at Washington D.C´s Uber Exclusive Metropolitan ClubSeptember 17, 2015
By Claudette Veronica Ferron, Vice Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
In its most important event of the year, the induction of nouveau confreres and consoeurs, the members of the vibrant, near half century old, Greater Washington, D.C., Bailliage, reveled in formal splendor at Washington’s world-famous Metropolitan Club, surrounded by architectural grandeur on September 17, 2015. The magnificently appointed Metropolitan Club is one of Washington’s premier private institutions and historical landmarks. Since its founding in 1863, during the height of the American Civil War, the Club has furthered literary pursuits, social development and improvement, and after more than 150 years continues to attract distinguished members worldwide. Its proximity to the heart of American political power – including the White House and Capital buildings, has made it a destination for pre-eminent world leaders, including almost every U.S. President since Abraham Lincoln. And on this auspicious occasion the haven of tradition and social civility was the setting in which General Manager Chef Rotisseur Michael Redmond hosted the lively Bailliage’s glorious induction dinner with Executive Chef Vincent Horville at the helm de la cuisine.
Chef Horville a classically trained chef from Versailles, France, grew up in the restaurant business and has worked at the White House, Camp David and has participated in an Iron Chef battle and James Beard Foundation fundraisers. With Chef Horville’s deft culinary artistry, and the Bailliage’s trademark exuberance, members and guests enjoyed an epicurean reverie, while they inducted new members, elevated officers, conferred special awards and dinned on a superb homage to food and wine excellence.
Met curbside like chauffeured royalty, Induction attendees were ushered through the grand foyer of the majestic Club, up the regal marble staircase into the magnificent ballroom, where an evening of superlatives unfolded. Beginning with the elegant reception, guests mingled with expectant excitement as they were professionally photographed and delighted by tantalizing butler passed hors d’oeuvres. A bright Mediterranean grilled baby octopus salad opened palates, followed by a delicious duck breast and Lingonberry tartelette and comforting pecan and cheddar cheese biscuit with barbecued squab. A luscious deviled Quail egg anointed with caviar gems completed the appetite awakening.
As the anticipatory crescendo of the reception’s merriment continued the lively repartee of members and guests turned to the induction. With impeccable timing Bailli Judith Mazza called the Bailliage to order, and initiated the induction. And while members and guests settled into their seats, inductees anxiously took their places, excitedly awaiting official inclusion into one of the most energetic and innovative Bailliages of the society of La Chaîne des Rotisseurs.
With the regal pomp and circumstance due the propitious occasion, the induction got underway in an atmosphere of amitié et fraternité as each inductee was warmly welcomed into the historic gastronomic fold. First, Jurisconsult des Etats-Unis Bailli Honoraire Paul S. Haar (aided by Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot, Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Louise Harkavy and Vice Chancelier-Argentier David Burka), entertained members and guests with an animated and jovial raconter des histoires de La Chaîne.
Fourteen new members were inducted that evening. In alphabetical order they are: Dame Emma Tearrah Cristiani-Nguyen, Ecuyer Donald More Davidson, Chevalier Corey EJ Golding, Chef Rotisseur Samuel Benjamin Kim, Maître Rotisseur Sebastien Lamerre, Ecuyer Daniel Steven Marks, Professionnel de la Table Lindsey M. Marks, Dame Regine Maurasse, Maître Rotisseur Suzanne W. Menard, Chevalier Robert Frederic Shaffer, Chevalier Jonathan Mitchell Sleeper, Maître Rotisseur Terry Harriet Tretter, Chevalier Ray Villarreal and Chevalier Gregory Scott Virgin.
After the induction of new members, three existing members were elevated, including two officers who exchanged positions on the Board. Louise Harkavy, formerly Vice Chargée de Missions was elevated to Vice Conseiller Gastronomique, and Thomas F. Walsh, III, formerly Vice Conseiller Gastronomique, was elevated to Vice Chargée de Missions. Chevalier Michael Steven McHenry was elevated to Officier and later in the evening he also received the Commandeur pin since he has been an active member of the La Chaîne for more than 20 years.
In addition, after completing the elevation ceremony, revealing a well-kept secret, a surprise award of the Bronze Star of Excellence was bestowed to Vice Chargée de Presse Claudette Veronica Ferron by Bailli Judith Mazza. Recognized for writing eloquent articles, painting beautiful literary tapestries of Chaîne events on deadline, and meeting the stringent editorial requirements for the abridged versions submitted to the national Gastronome Magazine, Vice Chargée de Presse Ferron, received the Bronze Star as a generous expression of the Bailliage’s appreciation.
Completing the induction and elevation on a high note, members, guests, new inductees and freshly minted officers moved across the ballroom to the glorious dining area and turned their focus to the evenings’ greatly anticipated celebratory culinary adventure and Mondiale du Vin event.
Beginning with the first course, diners were reacquainted with the culinary talents of Chef Vincent Horville by an amazingly succulent, ocean-fresh house smoked Alaskan salmon and caviar, with an invigorating watercress salad and lemon scented sauce verte. Expertly paired with a harmonious, lithe and fine Ruinart Brut Rose, NV (Champagne, France) exuding flavors of dried strawberry and smoke and intermingling with the accents of toasted almond, ground anise, pastry and dried apricot with a lasting finish of smoke and ripe fruit, the first course heralded great things to come. Then to the delight of all, Chef Horville surprised dinners with an unexpected course of a luscious perfectly seared crispy skin Black Cod, with a seductive Iberico Lomo chip, tomato emulsion, and micro fall greens, artfully accompanied by a pale gold 2013 Bruno Giacosa Roera Arneis DOCG, (Piedmont, Italy), a flavorful pear and apricot perfumed wine with elegant floral notes and a graceful finish.
Following quickly in the sparkling air of the festive event was the second course: a succulent pan seared rosemary cured foie gras, softly caressed by a subtle roasted fig, in a delicate pineapple consommé and Peruvian sweet chili elegantly accentuated by a subtle 2013 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvée Théo, (Alsace, France) possessing an elegant roundness with a refined aromatic nose of spice, rose petal, grapes and lychees and a beautifully delicate and precise finish.
In addition during the meal service, special awards and pins were conferred. Specifically, Chevalier Mark C. Lewonowski received the Chaîne Wine Carafe as a special thank you from the Bailliage for his extraordinary contributions as a hard working member of the wine committee. “Share the Chaîne” pins were awarded to Chevalier Mark C. Lewonowski, Dame Sheryl Shreckengost and Chevalier Allan Suchinsky for recruiting new Chaîne members during 2014 and 2015; Jurisconsult des Etats-Unis Bailli Honoraire Paul Haar received a Bronze pin for recruiting six members, and Bailli Judith Mazza received the Silver pin for recruiting more than 10 members.
The third course increased the joyous gastronomic experience with a fleshy charred beef Spinalis rolled with Argentinian Chimichurri, complemented by a flavorful wild rice Gallette, succulent sautéed fall mushrooms, and savory purée of Brussel sprouts and chervil. The robust dish was accompanied by a rich and round 2006 Familia Zuccardi Zeta (Mendoza, Argentina), a dark-fruit Malbec with cola, mocha and blackberry flavors with fine tannis balanced acidity and a long smooth finish. The beef substitute of a perfectly seared Chilean Sea Bass was an equally delicious alternative for those avoiding red meat.
Next, members and guests enjoyed the welcome interlude of the always entertaining Mondiale Du Vin induction, witnessing the induction of Dame de Société Lori Nicole Bowlin, Dame de Société Suzanne W. Menard, Chevalier de Société Robert Frederick Schaffer and Dame de Société Sheryl Shreckengost. As is the custom of the convivial Société, the induction was a cheer-filled tribute to fruit de la vigne, the Mondiale inductees proudly joined the Chaîne’s distinguished wine experts committed to the acquiring and dissemination of information on wine and quality spirits, along with the pleasure, knowledge and acquisition of the potion of the ages.
Flowing seamlessly toward the epicurean grande finale the luxurious fourth course of a lavish Roquefort cheese, with an intense and complex red currant, brandied pear and walnut jam seductively beckoned diners closer to gastronomic consummation, deftly married with a lush complex 2002 Edge Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California), a medium full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with black currant, and black berry flavors with hints of vanilla and soft silky tannis the fourth course was a triumph.
Finally, the epicurean piece d’resistance of the fabulous induction gala was the fifth course, a maple caramelized apple slice atop a vanilla mousse with an oatmeal and nut streusel spiced chocolate glaze. The mastery of this desert was so extraordinary it garnered reverent accolades of praise for the pastry chef, Chef Jennifer Kopp who is more than deserving of mention here. Her exceptional desert for the evening was superbly complemented by a deep amber colored 20 Year Old Fonseca Tawny Port NV, (Douro Valley, Portugal), a full-bodied velvety port with a magnificent and complex bouquet of ripe, mature fruit, warm spicy overtones and a long clean, elegant finish.
Thus, with an exquisite conclusion to a superlative evening, with appetites sumptuously satisfied and spirits buoyed, warmed by shared gastronomic enchantment, wrapped in the splendor of Chaîne tradition, members, new inductees, officers, awardees and guests of the Bailliage consummated the induction gala looking forward to upcoming epicurean explorations. And the remaining 2015 events promise to be exquisite culinary experiences with a flight of gastronomic fancy, to the renaissance of Greek-Italian high cuisine, at the reincarnated Irongate, and the brilliant holiday spectacular at the world-famous Willard Inter-Continental Hotel.