The Cincinnati Bailliage held its annual induction dinner on May 15, 2022, in downtown Cincinnati’s regal Hall of Mirrors at the historic Netherland Hilton Plaza Hotel. Fourteen new members were inducted at the levels of Chevalier (5), Dame de la Chaine (5), Professionnel du Vin (2), and Maître Rôtisseur (2). One of the baillage’s new Maître Rôtisseur members is Phil Gentry, who just two weeks earlier won the Young Chef Competition in Des Moine, IA, for the Midwest Region.
Construction of the Netherland hotel began in 1929, just before the start of the Great Depression. It was funded by local real estate developer John J. Emery whose family made its fortune in the Cincinnati stockyards. The hotel opened in 1931, the same year as a neighboring iconic building also developed by Emery: Carew Tower. The hotel, which has been declared a National Historic Landmark, features lavish features of Brazilian rosewood, marble, and custom nickel floral motifs in the French Art Deco style.
Chef Nathan Friday joined the Netherland Hilton just prior to our induction dinner. He was most recently a sous chef with Jose Salazar’s restaurants—another Cincinnati Chaîne favorite! Prior to that, he was the Owner/Founder/Chef of Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey in the city’s trendy Over the Rhine neighborhood. He attended Sullivan University Culinary School in Louisville, Kentucky.
It’s always a breathtaking moment to walk into the stunning Hall of Mirrors, even better with glasses of Piper Heidsieck Champagne in hand. Ample passed appetizers included Beef Tartar with Black Garlic and Truffle, Pork Belly with Fresno Chiles, and Pea Gazpacho. Cincinnati Bailli George Elliott introduced Bailli Délégué des Etats-Unis Bertrand de Boutray, and Bailli Provincial of the Midwest Province Gregory Wallis, who both served as officiants for the ceremony. Bailli Délégué de Boutray gave an insightful historical overview of the Chaîne’s history for the benefit of new members being inducted that day (and a great reminder for the rest of us!).
In a surprise announcement, Bailli Délégué de Boutray announced a presentation of the coveted Gold Medal of Excellence, which can only be bestowed by the Bailli Délégué to a deserving member, to Cincinnati Bailli George Elliott. Mr. Elliott joined the Cincinnati Chapter in 2003 and was appointed Chancelier-Argentier in 2008. He also took over the reins as Bailli from Chambellan Provincial Midwest Irwin Weinberg in 2008 and has headed the bailliage ever since. His innovative thinking and exceptional attention to detail have propelled the bailliage to an all-time record-high membership (sustained even through the recent pandemic). Mr. Elliott also serves on the boards of local charities including Cancer Family Care and the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. He gladly acknowledges that his gracious wife, Jeanne, has worked tirelessly with him through the years and deserves a large share of the credit.
Following the formal ceremonies, new and old members settled into the familiar camaraderie that defines the Chaîne and were treated to a sumptuous five-course dinner including a Pickled and Raw Beet Salad with Braised Mustard Seeds; Mushroom Ricotta Tortellini; Scallop with Sunchokes; Tomato Crusted Lamb Loin; and Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta. The meal was paired with wines selected by Echanson Provincial Midwest Mary Horn and her dedicated wine committee. Among the wine selections were an excellent 2016 Maison Champy Volnay served with the Mushroom Tortellini, a 2017 Stellenbosch Capensis “Silene” Chardonnay presented with the scallop dish, and the wonderful 2016 vintage of Le Macioche Brunello di Montalcino paired which perfectly with the lamb loin.
At a time when the food and wine industries continue to reel from the effects of the pandemic, and now followed by unparalleled inflation, the Cincinnati Chaîne has continued to stand by our culinary friends and grow our committed membership. At the conclusion of the evening, our appreciation was demonstrated with hearty rounds of applause for Chef Friday and his staff, Bailli George Elliott, Vice Conseiller Chuck Hong, and Echanson Provincial Midwest Mary Horn.
Graig Smith, Vice Chargé de Presse