December 16, 2010

Chapitre and Christmas Dinner – The Highwood at SAIT – December 16, 2010

Our Chapitre was held in the Highwood Dining Lounge at SAIT Polytechnic.  Hostess for the evening was Cindy Findlay, Bailli Régional and Academic Chair for the Baking and Pastry Arts program at SAIT.  She welcomed the attendees and gave an outline of the evening to come.  Arrayed beside her were the ribbons and medallions to be presented this evening.

We started our evening with the Intronization ceremony.  One member was awarded the 20 year Commandeur status, two Professionals were promoted, three new Council members were promoted and because the Calgary Bailliage is effectively at its membership limit, only five new members were intronized.

Jürgen Bahr, Vice-Chancelier Argentier was responsible for the paperwork and ensured all was completed properly.  David Tetrault, Bailli Délégué, Membre du Conseil d’Administration, Président du Concours International des Jeunes Commis Rotisseurs, Commandeur presided over the actual induction ceremony.  David started off by giving a brief history of la Chaîne and then proceeded with the Ceremony.

Kenneth Titcombe was presented with his 20-year Commandeur ribbon and promoted to Maitre Rôtisseur
Liana Robberecht was promoted to Maitre Rôtisseur
Susan Bauerfind was promoted to Vice-Chargé de Missions
Patricia Koyich was promoted to Vice-Chargé de Missions
Jan Hansen was promoted to Vice Conseiller Culinaire

Jerry Mercier was inducted as Chevalier
Edward Marran of Banff Centre was inducted as Maître Hôtelier
Allan Parris of the Royal Canadian Pacific was inducted as Maître Hôtelier
Connie Desousa of Charcut was inducted as Maître Rôtisseur
Cam Dobranski of Muse was inducted as Maître Rôtisseur
Cam was also admitted to l’Ordre Mondial

The reception followed.  A variety of beverages was offered as SAIT has an excellent mixology program.  To complement this, their Sommelier program is also excellent, as will be evidenced by the selection of wines that were poured during the evening.

The reception “bubbly” was Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut –a beautiful way to start, as far as I was concerned.  Of course, as Vice-Chargé de Presse, it is always a challenge to sample the reception fare and still capture the attendees in the informal reception setting.  To whet our appetites, a selection of hours d’oeuvres was passed around – far too many to be itemized in this note.

Then, it was time for dinner.  The tables were set in seasonal décor.  Spruce boughs, holly berries and spruce cones were arranged in a low setting and graced with a red ribbon.  The menus presented a white silhouette of the historic Heritage Hall at SAIT, and when opened, exposed the menu.

The meal started off with Foie Gras Terine with Braised Short Rib and Smoked Duck Prosciutto.  It was served with 2009 Chapoutier Chateau des Estubiers, Rose.  Or, at least it was supposed to be.  As it turned out, we were served a Marsannay Rose Pinot Noir from Domaine Bruno Clair.  An interesting pairing.  This was followed by a Consomme of Wild Mushrooms with Butternut Squash Ravioli, also served with the same Rose.  This, of course, led to many comments and comparisons with the suitability of it being with one or the other course.  Our table was split, while other tables, apparently, were more divided, some one way and others the other.  This only shows that food and wine pairing is a perfectly subjective art and oblivious to science.

The fish course was Fillet of Steelhead Trout with Chevril Beurre Nantaise and Beluga Lentils.  A lovely lace Tuile arched gracefully over the Fillet.  The accompanying wine was 2007 Maison Champy Puligny-Montrachet, Les Enseigneres.

The granite was a refreshing and sparkling persimmon Ice.

Then the main – Roasted Loin of Alberta Lamb with Merguez Sausage and Merlot Braised Cipollini Onions – can it get any better??!!  For this course, SAIT dug deep into the cellars to pull out a 2000 Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint Estephe!

The cheese course was a scrumptious Gorgonzola with Blood Orange Chutney and a few sugared pecans on the side, which was graced with a glass of 1999 Late Bottled Vintage Port from Warre’s of Portugal.

Our dessert was a pastry chef’s dream – Semolina Pudding with Pistachio Ice Cream and Caramel Corn.  Of course, the pastry chef and his workers could not stop there.  First they brought out the chocolate tower.  They were designed with an Ascot hat in mind with a Chaîne logo as presentation and a few tasty chocolates inside.  This was followed by two plates of migniardises.  They were:

“Hot Chocolate” crèmes – the insides infused with a bit of chilli to ward off the cold
Raspberry Meringue Pipe
Honey Marshmallow Nougat mixed with assorted nuts
Chocolate Truffle popsicles with salted pistachio ice crème and sour cherry

In all, it was a fantastic way to end the first decade of the 21st century.  The kitchen and serving staff were brought out to a standing ovation.  The first of many, we hope, in their careers.

Our signature plates were presented to Georg Windisch, Chef Rôtisseur & Chef Instructor and Kevin Coniff, Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor.

Our thanks go out to Cindy, the instructors and all the culinary students at SAIT for providing us with a wonderful evening.

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