Tonight was the annual La Chaîne intronisation, a black tie formal with medals and ribbons affair. This is the night where new members of this World Wide Gourmand group gets inducted into the organization. That was me last year, so it was nice to be on the other end congratulating the newbies this time around.
Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an International Association of Gastronomy with nearly 21,000 members, with chapters in over 75 countries. Internationally recognized with 12 chapters across Canada, and 16 new members inducted to the Vancouver one this evening.
The organization brings together food and drink enthusiasts who share the same values of the fine dining experience, and the encouragement of the culinary arts. The roster originally included only professional chefs, but over the hundreds of years now welcomes hoteliers, restaurateurs, executive chefs, sommeliers, and avid food appreciators such as myself.
This year, the celebration and ceremony look place in the Emerald Ballroom at the elegant Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. Here guests were fêted by Executive Chef and Maître Rôtisseur Damon Campbell and his culinary and front-of-house team. To see said Chef get inducted and then prepare the lavish meal below was a most memorable food and wine experience.
The intronisation was hosted by Mr. Tony Catanese, Bailli Délégué du Canada, giving our annual introduction. The ceremony included a sworn oath, a knighting with official swords, and the bestowing of ribbons around the neck of the inductee. This was then followed by the traditional champagne reception with bubbles served by the glass, accompanied by a collection of canapés.
Next year I would like to be inducted in to Ordre Mondial. This is the liquid division of La Chaîne, with a focus on wines, brandy, high end liqueur and spirits. Notably the induction here included another knighting and a glass of wine to cheers with.
As for the reception, there was a tomato tart with a marinara-like spread over puff pastry.
A light slice of blue fin tuna over a rectangle of crispy rice, seasoned in togarashi spice.
The duck croquette was a salty, warm and crispy throughout.
But the room’s favourite, as well as mine, was the caviar and quail egg on waffle morsel. This was a wonderful medley of salty and savoury richness that coated your mouth. I had about four to myself.
When it was time for our dinner service, guests were invited to take a seat. Servers brought around Artisanal Bread of sourdough & porridge loaves. With basket and tongs you are given your desired portion, to be taken with a ramekin full of stirling butter, provided to each person at their seat. This was the most generous serving of butter I have ever seen. You could fully indulge with plenty smeared over chewy bread. I am sure I had a loaf in total, it was such a nice soft sourdough.
Our starter was a Nova Scotia Scallop Crudo with radish, cucumber, chili, lemon balm sea buckthorn broth. This was such a beautifully composed dish. Soften scallop and firm cubes of vegetable offer a great contrast. A blend of tangy and bright elements for a course to get the appetite going.
It was well paired with the 2020 Turbiana, I Frati, Ca dei Frati, Lugana, Italy. A light and fresh wine with notes of sweet apple that paralleled and contrasted the starter at different points. It was dry with high acidity, similar to Sauvignon Blanc, playing off the citrus in the food. This was a savoury style of wine with an earthy leafy element to it, our sommelier described it best as “forest floor”.
Next course was fish, with a lovely Roasted Filet of Madai with matsutake mushroom, sea asparagus, and kohlrabi butter. The texture of the fish was lush on the lips, a plate made meaty with the bed of mushrooms.
And for our wine pairing we had the 2018 Pinot Noir from Hexham Vineyard, Soumah, Yarra Valley, Australia. This has spent a little time in French oak giving it the savoury spice of nutmeg and cinnamon. A unique wine with some funky organic notes to it that went well with the earthiness of the course.
Next course was meat with a Charcoal Grilled Snake Rivers Ranch Wagyu Beef with a savoury pain perdu, black truffle, and parsnip aromatic jus. This was succulent tender beef wonderfully prepared with a wedge of sweet caramelized onions. The toasted section of pulled beef on the side provided a nice contrast in texture, along with the soften cabbage wrap. An intelligently conceived plate where all the elements were cohesive and best together in a mouthful.
For wine it was a 2017 Merlot/Cabernet blend from Tassinaia, Castello del Terriccio, Tuscany, Italy. A smooth and easy wine with a tart jammy quality that went well with the red meat.
For dessert it was an assembly of “Fall Flavours” that included a brown butter hazelnut cake and poached pear smoked maple crémeux caramelized sunchoke ice cream. Soft sponge and liquid cream. This was a great end to an amazing meal, with a bit of sweetness.
Well paired with the Tinta Negra Mole, Rainwater, Blandy’s, Madeira, Portugal, NV, where the sweet honey finish of the spirit matched the baked warmth of the cake.
In closing, this was an amazing meal and I expected nothing less from one that began with 50 grams of butter per person. A wonderful evening that ended with the sincere thanking of the Fairmount Pacific Rim kitchen and service staff.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Canada PI, Vancouver, BC V6C OB9