Hillsborough Chapter of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs
The Hillsborough Chapter of LaChaîne was started by Mr. Herbert Adair, an investor from Los Angeles who relocated to Hillsborough. His friend Allen Chase was, at that time, the Bailli Provincial for the Pacific Northwest, and assisted Mr. Adair in forming a Peninsula chapter, where Mr. Chase inducted all the charter members. Listing of Charter Members. In 1969 the Pacific Northwest included the Pacific Coast of California, Hawaii and Alaska and the Hillsborough Bailli performed all inductions of new members except Hawaii.
The first La Chaine dinner was held at 85 Fagan Drive. It was catered by Mr. Thomasser, whose catering company was the best in San Francisco at that time and prepared a truly gourmet presentation for this first Bailliage Event.
Dinners were planned a year or two in advance and members were assigned to host these dinners at their homes or a restaurant of their choice. Members and their spouses spent a great deal of time and effort guaranteeing the dinner and accompanying wines were as perfect as can be. Members and guests were charged a reasonable price for the dinners and usually the hosts absorbed the difference. All the dinners were spectacular in their own way.
Alejandro Zaffaroni hosted a dinner at Trader Vic’s restaurant in San Francisco where every wine he served was from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.
Hillsborough members attended dinners and events all over the United States. One event that stands out was hosted by the Beverly Hills Bailliage, whose events were most spectacular in that their dinners often surpassed La Chaine National Events in flair, style and the “extraordinary”. When it was time for Bob Six, chairman of Continental Airlines, and his wife, Audrey Meadows, to host an Event he asked the Hillsborough Bailli for assistance in setting up a dinner at Ernie’s in San Francisco. He flew all attending Beverly Hills Bailliage members from Southern California to San Francisco. He also flew in Iranian caviar from Tehran. There were ice sculptures of mermaids with extended arms holding the 2-kilo tins of caviar.
Another dinner hosted by Jack Wrather and his wife, Bonita Granville had an English and Scottish theme. For this he had special seafood (periwinkles, cockles, etc.) flown in from Scotland. When the shipment arrived Friday for the dinner Saturday evening, Customs officials said they couldn’t clear the merchandise until Monday morning as it was too late in the afternoon. Jack immediately called President Nixon at the White House. Needless to say, the seafood was cleared Friday afternoon. All the guests were greeted by 6 foot tall waiters in Beefeaters regalia offering champagne to start a speculator evening.
History of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs
It was in the year 1248, under Saint Louis, King of France, that the Guild of Rôtisseurs was formed. Originally limited to roasters of geese (“Ayeurs”), the Guild expanded in scope and in numbers, and in 1610 it received the present coat of arms by royal warrant. (Note the crossed broches, or turning spits, on this seal. A symbolic broche is used during the Chaîne’s induction ceremony for new members and elevation in rank of deserving members). One of the most prosperous of the Guilds, La Chaîne comprised many members who were attached to the noblest of families of France. This proved less advantageous during the French Revolution, for along with most other Guilds, La Chaîne suffered significant loss of membership and was dissolved. Gastronomically speaking, 160 uneventful years passed until the revival of La Chaîne in 1950. Following recovery from World War II, three gastronomes and two professionals joined in Paris with a common goal – to restore the pride in culinary excellence which had been lost during a period of wartime shortages. In that year La Confrèrie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was officially incorporated, and the seal and coat of arms of the predecessor Guild were restored by Act of the French Government.
The Chaine Today
Today La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is the oldest and largest gastronomic organization in the world. Tens of Thousands of people have participated in Chaine events annually in its activities throughout the world with 6,000 members in the USA alone. Bailliages (Chapters) in more than 80 countries coordinate their programs through La Chaîne’s international headquarters in Paris. In the United States, La Chaîne has approximately 130 local chapters. The National office is located in Madison, New Jersey on the Farleigh Dickinson University Campus. Underlying La Chaîne’s growth is the organization’s sense of purpose. A key criterion which distinguishes La Chaîne from other organizations involved in wine or food is the interrelation between amateur and professional. In La Chaîne we strive for balanced membership representing professionals involved in food preparation, service in hotels, private clubs and restaurants; wine, food and equipment suppliers and world- renowned lecturers, writers and critics, as well as knowledgeable laymen who, due to their interest in learning and/or well-traveled backgrounds, are in a position to enjoy the pleasures engendered by good cuisine, good wine and good company.
National Competitions & Further Learning
Visit our national website for competitions or more general information.