Hot Dish

This Dinner Is Why People Join the Chaîne

A recent evening at a new Fifth Avenue restaurant is a prime example of the benefits of membership in the international gastronomic society.

BY May 10, 2017

Even if you’ve lived in Southwest Florida long enough, you still may not have heard of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

But if you love food—especially fine dining (and wines with panache and provenance)—you need to get acquainted with the group.

As I’ve described before, it feels very much like a fraternity or sorority for well-versed (and well-heeled) foodies. Once you’re initiated and pay your dues, you have access to monthly dinners at various restaurants and country clubs, like the one held May 2 at Ocean Prime by the Naples bailliage, “chapter” in French (there is also another bailliage in Bonita Springs).

You may be asking right now, why do I need to go to the private dinner when I can just make a reservation of my own? And isn’t Ocean Prime a national chain, so the food is consistent from restaurant to restaurant?

What made this affair unique is that from the passed hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour to each of the five courses (that the chapter paired with wines from its own cellar in Naples), nothing was on the regular menu—and the restaurant, when it was approached by the Chaîne, brought in chefs from throughout Florida to collaborate with the Fifth Avenue executive chef Jason Mallon on the feast. (A tip of the toque to Mallon, as his dish was picture of perfection: a juicy, rouge beef tenderloin in a pool of a pancetta-inflected sauce, alongside horseradish puree with a mélange of green cauliflower and caramelized slivers of purple carrots. See more details of the night's menu below.)

With the next season in mind, the bailliage’s leader, Roger Weatherburn-Baker, has more in his sights. Aside from getting restaurants to come up with the unexpected, he plans to challenge their teams with themed dinners, like a Venetian carnival, an après ski with fondue and Rieslings, and an evening in Monticello channeling the farm culture started by our Founding Fathers.

All will continue the Chaîne’s reputation for memorable meals—and extraordinary experiences—for sure.

Tuna tataki with heirloom carrots, snap peas and ginger vinaigrette

East Coast Village Bay oyster (left) with orange-ginger Ponzu and West Coast Kumamoto oyster with blackberry granita and lemon mint

Baked black cod with charred ramp "chimichurri" and pea agnelotti in a preserved lemon cream with a tangle of vidalia onions

Beef tenderloin with pancetta "jus" horseradish puree and roasted green cauliflower and purple carrots with frizzled leeks


Not pictured: Vanilla crema Catalana with cinnamon, lemon and stone fruit compote



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