The French Background
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 the 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.
Today La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is the oldest and largest gastronomic organization in the world. More than 80,000 persons participate annually in its activities throughout the world with about 6,000 members in the USA. 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 125 local chapters. The National office is located at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
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.
The Cincinnati Connection
In the 70’s a group of gentlemen interested in wine and good food decided to establish a wine tasting group. At the time they only met informally to eat and drink. The members of this original group were David Taylor, George Rieveschl, Klaus Treusein, Peter Glaubitz, Tom Noes, Russ Wiles, John Dome, Marj Valvano and Dan Fay.
Later a gentleman by the name of Joe Falceto came to Cincinnati as the Food and Beverage director of the Westin Hotel. He became a friend of Russ Wiles and told him about a National organization called Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. He suggested that this group become members of this National organization. Everyone thought this an excellent idea and thus a Bailliage was formed in Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Chapter of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was officially formed in the Fall of 1981. Louis Blacher, Bailli Delegue de Mid-West, came here at the invitation of Joseph Falceto to explain the organization and facilitate the formation of the local chapter. At the meeting held on October 15, 1981, Joe Falceto was elected Bailli. The first induction ceremony took place at the Westin on December 6, 1981. There were 28 members in the initial group of inductees. Link to Marj Valvano’s original induction program with list of members and dinner menu.
In 1982, Mr. Falceto moved out of town and George Rieveschl, at that time the Vice-Chancelier Argentier, became Bailli and held that post until July 2000. Mr. Rieveschel was succeeded by Peter Hainline who has overseen many events and retired in 2005. Peter was followed by Irwin Weinberg who took us to higher levels by involving the Chapter in the Young Chef Competition, leading us on two Wine Country tours of Burgundy and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and adding Dine Arounds enabling the Chapter to have at least one event per month. Irwin retired in 2011 and was succeeded by the current Bailli, George Elliott. Today we have over 90 members locally as well as an active chapter of Société Mondiale du Vin.