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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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The Gala that Honored the Chefs

December 13, 2012

By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

The Bailliage of Greater Washington has nine or ten events a year, and although we strive to make every event unique, there are some which are in a class by themselves. One such is our annual holiday gala. The chefs know this and do their best to create unique culinary masterpieces. The creative culinary process this year was unusual in that Chef de Cuisine Paul Stearman of Marcel’s Restaurant had access to the wine we were going to serve when he was creating his menu. Often we taste the culinary creations and then pair the wine to them. Thanks to mid-Atlantic Chambellan/Bailli Paul Haar, Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh was able to arrange to have sample bottles of Morlet wine sent to the chef prior to the tasting dinner and to also have them available to the tasting committee in advance of the event.

Our Bailliage has enjoyed a number of stellar events at Marcel’s over the years, and this was to be no exception. We were particularly delighted that the vintner, Luc Morlet was able to join us for the dinner to discuss the wines that he and his family had produced.

Our reception began with three passed hors d’oeuvres which consisted of an onion tartlet with Roquefort cheese, a smoked salmon potato blini Napoleon topped with smoked trout caviar, and prawn croquettes with sweet chili sauce and scallions. These were enjoyed with Morlet, “Millesime” Brut, 1er Cru, Champagne 2002 from the family vineyard in Champagne, France. The Champagne was yeasty and flavorful.

Once seated, we were treated to the Maine scallop mille feuille, butternut brunoise and Osetra caviar, which we enjoyed with Morlet, Semillon Sauvignon Muscadelle, Sonoma County, 2010. The pairings were exquisite and this course was then followed by the filet of turbot with saffron risotto with a cabernet reduction. The Morlet, “Joli Coeur” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2010 had wonderful tones of raspberry and was thoroughly enjoyed with the dish. To prepare us for the next two savory courses, we were served a fabulous intermezzo which consisted of grapefruit granite with ginger sauternes syrup. Who knew that grapefruit and ginger made for such a wonderful pairing?

We were next served Muscovy duck confit lasagna with celery root puree, Banyuls gastrique and truffle cream. The pairing of this complex dish with Morlet, “Bouquet Garni” Bennet Valley, Syrah 2010 was perfect as the wine revealed a complex and spicy bouquet. It was indeed, aptly named “bouquet garni.” Our final savory course, roasted Cervena venison and Hudson Valley foie gras in phyllo pastry with hen of the woods mushrooms and rosemary venison jus was delicious with Morlet “Mon Chevalier” Knights Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. A chocolate dessert extravaganza followed consisting of chocolate ganache and chocolate sorbet topped by a deeply flavored cocoa crisp. The Morlet, “Billet Deux” Alexander Valley, Late Harvest Riesling 2009 ended the meal on a sweet and delightful note.

However, as wonderful as the meal was, and as clearly passionate, knowledgeable and delightful Luc Morlet was about the fantastic wines we were privileged to enjoy, the evening was to be elevated a bit more. Mid-Atlantic Chambellan/Bailli Paul Haar had some exciting surprises for us. He began by presenting Luc Morlet with a beautiful Chaîne carafe in thanks for making his wine available for our dinner and to our members.

Chef de Cuisine Paul Stearman, Maître Rotisseur Robert Wiedmaier and their staff walked into the room to enthusiastic applause. Chef Stearman was truly surprised when he was presented with his own pewter Chaîne plate.  He is deserving of nothing less, as he was part of the creative force behind both the meal we had just enjoyed and meals we have enjoyed in the past. We were happy to see Chef R.J. Cooper arrive, which gave us the opportunity to present him with HIS plate for the amazing dinner we had enjoyed at his restaurant Rogue 24 just the month before. Due to hurricane Sandy, we were unable to obtain a plate for him at the time of the dinner.

Maître Rotisseur Robert Wiedmaier then spoke of the friendship that the chefs in Washington, D.C. have with one another and the warmth they feel toward the diners who frequent their establishments. He remarked that Chef de Cuisine Paul Stearman had been trained at L’Academie de Cuisine which was founded and directed by our very own Vice Conseiller Culinaire Chef Francois Dionot. Chef Wiedmaier referred to his culinary team as his “brigade” and it was clear that the affection and respect was mutual.

What Maître Rotisseur Wiedmaier did not know was that he was about to be presented with a rare and very prestigious award. Vice Conseiller Culinaire Chef Francois Dionot presented Maître Rotisseur Wiedmaier with the Chaîne’s the Medaille de Merite by L'Academie de Gastronomie Brillat-Savarin in recognition for his outstanding contributions to the culinary arts to our society. This award is rarely given and Chef Wiedmaier is only the second to receive this award in many years. There was resounding applause to show the Chaîne’s appreciation to Chef Wiedmaier for his many years creating gastronomic bliss for gastronomes.

Although the hour was late, confreres lingered, not wanting the evening to end. Several members asked the chefs to sign their menus and good wishes resounded as the Bailliage of Greater Washington brought the events of 2012 to a close.

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