Gianni Van Daalen
Bailli de Moscou, Chaine des Rotisseurs
Photo by Alexey Zhukov
When was Chaine des Rotisseurs founded?
The Chaine was first founded by Louis IX, King of France, in 1248, as a guild of goose roasters, so-named in honor of the chefs who carved poultry. The first members of the Chaine were French knights who, after the hunt, competed to prepare the best game bird.
The French Revolution! It not only beheaded the monarch but outlawed all guilds and societies, the Chaine des Rotisseurs among them. It was only in 1950 that it was revived by five gastronomique enthusiasts – a doctor, two journalists and two restaurateurs.
What are its objectives today?
Chaine des Rotisseurs is an international gastronomy association dedicated to bringing together both professional and non-professional members worldwide who appreciate and share a mutual interest in cuisine, wine and fine dining. It unites professional and amateur gastronomes in a private, non-profit society committed to promoting the culinary and hospitality arts and enology, the study of winemaking, through example, education and camaraderie.
How widespread is it?
Today the Chaine is present in over 200 countries with more than 90,000 members.
Why start a chapter in Russia?
Why not? The founder of the Russian Chapter was Thomas Noll, the General Manager of the Grand Hotel Europe, who had been a member for many years when he was in other countries. The first Russian restaurateurs to join the international Chaine des Rotisseurs on 13 December 2002 were a group from St Petersburg all of whom subscribed to the ideals of the Chaine and wanted to spread its values.
Thomas, an old friend, knowing of my long standing interest in the Chaine asked me to initiate a branch in Moscow. I first joined the Chaine 30 years ago and I was delighted to revive my involvement and initiate its activities in Moscow. Accordingly we held our first meeting on March 30th last year.
What about cost?
Membership is by invitation only. Most new members join through recommendation by friends who are already members; but it is also possible to obtain information directly through our national Chapters which are referred to as Bailliages within the Chaine. The entrance fee is EUR 500, which includes membership fee for the first year and the formal induction and presentation of the medal on a ribbon denoting category of membership. Annual membership fees are EUR 200.
And the benefits?
Attending the Grand Chapitre, which translates into a three or four days programe for lovers of haute cuisine culminating in a Gala Dinner. Last year it was held in St Petersburg’s marble palace. This is when new members are formally inducted in the tradition of the original guild of knights. But members can attend any Grand Chapitre, anywhere in the world. Other benefits include culinary competitions for chefs and regular Dinners Amical – around 10 per year, discounts in member restaurants …
What’s the most rewarding thing you find about the society?
At every Chaine event I get to enjoy great food and fine wine and meet old and new friends, who all share a love of good food and wine.