Bay hosts induction ceremony, dinner of age-old international society, writes Louise Liebenberg
The world’s oldest food and wine society, with almost 25,000 members in more than 80 countries, visited the Bay last weekend to host a sparkling gala dinner and induction ceremony here.
National and international representatives of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, whose origins date back to 13th-century France, rubbed shoulders with inductees from the Eastern Cape and Garden Route in a stylish event that was also open to non-members of “The Chaîne”, as the association is informally referred to.Gerhard Maritz, of Hopefield Country House in Addo, was inducted as the new “bailli” or president of the Bailliage de l’Outeniqua. It is this chapter which elegantly and effortlessly played host to the “chapitre” or meeting, and dinner, held at luxurious Broughton Country Estate in Colleen Glen.
The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs has more than 350 members across six “bailliages” or chapters in SA, and the one in our neck of the woods is very active indeed.
There is currently no Eastern Cape chapter and so this province, along with the Garden Route, falls under the Bailliage de l’Outeniqua. However there was every hope that the Eastern Cape would go on to start its own chapter in future, Maritz said.
The Outeniqua chapter, founded in 2000, regularly sees award-winning chefs prepare mouth-watering dishes, always paired with exceptional wines, to delight the most sophisticated of palates, Maritz added.
New and promoted members were inducted at last weekend’s exclusive event which was presided over by celebrated chef and food personality Francois Ferreira, a past national head of the Chaîne and a member of its international board or “conseil magistral” since 2014. Ferreira is also the principal of the Francois Ferreira Academy, a school of culinary art and hospitality based in George, and a past holder of the lofty title of “Comptroller of the Household of the State President of South Africa”. Also present to address guests and officiate at the ceremony was the Chaîne’s national president, Philip Mostert, of Durban, a lifelong foodie whose two young children think he is the president of SA, period!
It’s not a surprising leap for little foodies-in-the-making to make as Chaîne members all receive a rather fancy ribbon when they are inducted or promoted.
The ribbon, reminiscent of a mayoral collar, is to be worn at all Chaîne events, and different colours denote different ranks, Ferreira Mostert explained. Members include everyone from food lovers to professionals, whether hoteliers, restaurateurs, chefs or sommeliers, all united by their appreciation and love of fine wine and cuisine.
“I pledge that as a member of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs I will at all times honour the art of cuisine and the culture of the table.” So goes a part of the pledge, all delivered in perfect French by Ferreira, to which each new or promoted member had to then solemnly agree.
The induction ceremony took up the first part of the evening, with 12 members from the region sworn in or promoted. A particular honour was bestowed on well-known Bay chef Annelie Oosthuizen, owner of Petronella Fine Dining and Catering, who was promoted from “chef rotisseur” to “maitre rotisseur”.
With the new rank comes a snazzy brass plaque only given to those noted for the exceptional standard of their work. You usually have to be a Chaîne member for at least three years before you are even considered for this honour, but Oosthuizen was deemed worthy after just one year of membership, Ferreira said. He noted she went out of her way to inspire and uplift her staff – several of whom assisted at last Saturday’s function – and recalled a fantastic lunch she and her team had prepared for visiting international members of the Chaîne on the beach at Kini Bay last year.
A Chaîne dinner is all about amazing food, magnificent wine and stimulating company – and all three elements proved to be in sync at the Broughton dinner also.Guests first nibbled on smoor-snoek croquettes topped with tempura prawn, as well as dainty gorgonzola and pear galettes the classy canapes washed down with MCC from Weltevrede and Rickety Bridge.
Chef Timothy Keevy and his team then delivered course after praiseworthy course paired with wines from Zevenwacht, Nitida, Buitenverwachting and Diemersfontein respectively.
First came a trio of wild mushroom and truffle arancini with parmesan tuile, neatly balanced on parmesan creme and with some green fig preserve dotted on top.
Next, perfectly-seared Norwegian salmon on an asparagus and dill potato terrine, served with asparagus spears and a rich and silky lemon-and-dill sauce.
The main course was glazed pork belly which had been smoked with rooibos and then placed on a cumin and honey-roasted sweet potato and butternut puree.
Finally, for pud, a wondrous, frozen mandarin parfait with a brandy snap that actually snapped as it should.
For more information on the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, or to find out how to join the Outeniqua chapter, contact Gerhard Maritz on 082-735-3135 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org..