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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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A Joyous Induction Ceremony Embraced All

April 28, 2011

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

An induction is our most formal event of the year and to fit the occasion, the Bailliage of Greater Washington once again was able to enjoy the hospitality of the Metropolitan Club of Washington thanks to the generosity of the General Manager and Culinaire Honoraire Reinhard Danger. The Metropolitan Club, founded in 1863, is located in a beautiful historic building just a few blocks from the White House. A small committee had the privilege of meeting at the Chef’s table in the kitchen about two weeks before the induction, to pair the wine and discuss the menu. When we arrived, we found that Chef Horville had created a menu which was contemporary and traditional, perfect for THE event of the season.

We had sixty members and guests who had planned to attend, so as everyone arrived, the conversation became more animated. The Dames were resplendent in their gowns and Chevaliers in their tuxedos. We began the evening with a champagne reception with passed hors d’oeuvres including one with a most whimsical presentation, a lemon grass chicken pot sticker with cilantro oil, served in what appeared to be a miniature Chinese take-out box!  We were also served ahi tuna tartare on pumpernickel rounds topped by an avocado fan and figs stuffed with Maytag blue cheese wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and pomegranate syrup.

After meeting and greeting members and guests, both old and new, it was time to begin the induction itself, as the Washington Bailliage has been growing and there was much to do. Bailli Provincial George Muller and Chamballan/Bailli Paul Haar began the ceremony with an explanation for new members about the history of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and some of the “rules” to follow at a Chaîne function. We had the privilege of inducting two professional members as Chef Rotisseur, Chef Mark Timms and Chef Austin Fausett. Chef Timms is the Executive Chef at the Fairfax Hotel in Washington and was given his ribbon by Bailli Provincial Honoraire of the Northeast Francois Nivaud. Chef Austin Fausett was the winner of the mid-Atlantic Les Jeunes Commis and was our representative to the National Jeunes Commis. He is the sous chef at Michel Richard’s Central Restaurant, and despite only being 24 years old, is clearly quite accomplished. We then welcomed the following new Chevaliers into the Chaîne: Dr. Robert Henry Moore, Dr. Dany Westerband and Mr. Philip Schimmel. The Chevalier induction was followed by inducting our new Dames de la Chaîne: Rebecca Burka, Julia Eakes and Allison Rosenberg. There was great applause and big smiles which accompanied each as they held the sword and were inducted by retiring Bailli Provincial George Muller.

The induction of new members was followed by Chamballan/Bailli Paul Haar giving two special awards. Neither recipient knew they were about to receive an award!  The first award was given to Argentier David Burka who has been a mainstay of the Bailliage of Greater Washington for many years. Rebecca Burka, his wife, discussed his lifelong interest in food and wine, beginning with what was then the family wine business and the camaraderie he experienced at his parent’s table throughout his life. Bailli/Chamballan Haar noted that Argentier David Burka modestly and competently, keeps the finances organized and is also active in other wine and food organizations in the area. The second award, the Silver Star of Excellence, was given to Judith Mazza, Vice Chargée de Presse for her work in communicating with members, designing and continually improving the website, and assisting Bailli/Chamballan Paul Haar. Allan Kam, Judith’s husband, also spoke and talked about her lifelong interest in food and wine as well as her photography and technical interests, which are all combined in the Chargée de Presse position. He noted that she has been cooking since she could reach the stove, had an extensive cookbook collection and often cooked for friends and family. Her service to the DC Bailliage was a labor of love, her time given freely due to the synergy and great friendships she has made during her time in the Chaîne, and especially her relationship with Bailli/Chamballan Paul Haar.

As we rose from our seats to go to dining area, there was again a great feeling of inclusion and warmth that was indescribable. We were served the first course which was the Rougie foie gras and lobster salad which was served with the Muskateller Kabinett Trocket Durkheimer Hochbenn Pfalz 2009. This rich and unctuous course was soon followed by a lemon roasted Alaskan Halibut, topped with Thousand Lake caviar served over wilted spinach and a tarragon butter sauce. This was served with Louis Latour Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2009. Chef Vincent Horville had a surprise for us. There was one other course which was not on the menu!  It was a lovely Thai lemongrass scented spanner crab ceviche, resting on a banana leaf and served in a delicate basket and topped with roasted sesame seeds. The crab was sweet and delicate, its flavor echoing its diet of scallops and shrimp. This course was served with Illumination Sauvignon Blanc 2009 by Quintessa, Napa Valley.

There was so much joy and a sense of connection among confreres in the room, such that people were rising from their seats and talking with confreres at other tables between courses. However, as the 72-hour short rib course appeared, accompanied by wild mushroom risotto with fresh morels and jumbo asparagus, everyone once again found their seats, and the room became relatively quiet, as everyone enjoyed the flavorful and extraordinarily tender ribs. The short ribs were accompanied by Cos D’Estournel 1996. We were next treated to a trio of imported Italian artisan cheese; Grayson, Taleggio and Plave, served with quince paste, green walnuts and Lucien Albrech Cuvee Marie Gewurztraminer 2007. The play of texture with the various cheeses and the house-made crackers was most delightful.

As we awaited our final course, a procession appeared!  It was time for the Société Mondiale induction. Wearing the traditional robes were Argentier de Etats Unis Honoraire Michael Parmet, Vice Echanson de Etats Unis Honoraire Tony Busalacchi and Bailli/Chamballan Paul Haar. Bailli Provincial George Muller and Bailli/Chamballan Paul Haar wielded the grape stocks and summoned the Mondiale inductees. With great merriment and fanfare the following were inducted into Société du Vin Mondiale and took the oath: Dame de la Chaîne Rebecca Burka, Dame de la Chaîne Julia Eakes, Dame de la Chaîne Allison Rosenberg, Argentier David Burka, Gastronomique Steven Lustig, Chevalier Edmund Spivak and Chevalier Dany Westerband.

We resumed our seats and awaited the final course of a chocolate cake with layers of mousse, chocolate crunch and raspberry sauce on a beautifully decorated plate. Sighing with contentment, the last nibbles of brightly colored bitter chocolate was served, with various flavors including champagne, raspberry, Irish cream, hazelnut, mocha, brandy, truffles and calvados. Chef Vincent Horville and his team then appeared to enthusiastic applause. Many lingered long after as the staff cleared the plates, not wanting the evening to end. It was after midnight when the last confreres exited the building, knowing that they had just enjoyed one of the finest events the Washington, D.C. Bailliage has had the privilege of organizing.

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