A European Christmas Dinner – A Review

A European Christmas Dinner

7 December 2015

The Ballroom at the Intercontinental Hotel Sydney

In these days where it appears that every restaurant or venue is organising some sort of special dinner or function the question that raises its head is ‘What differentiates La Chaîne from the rest?’ The NSW Committee under the capable captaincy of Joerg Boeckeler and the team at the InterContinental provided the answer on 7 December – a special experience, attention to detail, conviviality as well as fine food and wine.

The black tie function was preceded by an Intronisation ceremony in the historical and elegant Treasury Room at the InterContinental. From the warm welcome from Officier Dennis Mather at the door, through the procession of officers to the sounds of a ceremonial piece by Charpentier (a French composer chosen deliberately to mark the recent horrors in Paris) to the conduct of the ceremony itself by Bailli Délégué, Norm Harrison, attendees realised that they were participating in an event that was a combination of Chaîne tradition and formality combined with humour and humanity.

It was pleasing to see so many new members intronised particularly the new professional members and congratulations to Gunter Schaule and Dennis Mather who were awarded Bronze Medals on the night and to the President of the NSW Legislative Council {The Hon Don Harwin) who was awarded the first Chevalier d’Honneur in NSW.

A glass of champagne followed then participants moved up to the second floor arcade for canapés and more champagne and a house cocktail.  The canapes were splendid. I appreciated the careful juxtaposition of flavours in each canapé.

The doors to the ballroom were then thrown open and we were confronted by the results of great attention to detail earlier that afternoon. The lighting was perfect in the room and the elegant tables were festooned by garlands of flowers prepared by Yvonne ten Pas. The tables of 10 were arranged around a table of twenty hosted by Joerg. As I moved around the room later in the evening I realised that members and guests at each table were comfortable with their companions – people talked, smiled and joked.

The food on the night was well balanced, interesting and finely prepared. I love foie gras (yes I know it is bad for you) and the pan fired foie gras, fig, smoked grapes, macadamia crumble and brioche was suburb. The quail double consommé was a hit but the stand out for me was the slow cooked John Dory with butter confit using Pepe Saya a locally made product, maroon, aerated lobster essence, vichy carrots and lardo. To slow cook john dory and serve it perfectly with flavour was inspired. The dry aged Tinder Creek duck breast was also excellent as were the deserts but I just kept reliving the John Dory. The wines chosen by Fine Wines and Partners in collaboration with Vice Conseiller Cullinaire David Reberger were high quality and matched the food.

Fine wine, food and conviviality. But there was more! A quartet from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra delighted the audience and a splendid raffle hosted by Joerg and Bonnie Boeckeler added to the festivity.

At the end of the evening Executive Chef and NSW Members Contantin Kautz was presented with an award of excellence but the entire InterContinental crew deserved the same.

Members staggered away with a gift bag groaning with high quality donated produce and a beautiful Chaîne embossed decanter to thank them for their support.

John Studdert

Vice Chancelier NSW

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