In a lavish ceremony last Friday, the Chaine des Rotisseurs inducted new members at a ceremony in the ballroom of the Conrad Hotel. Among the guests of honor were Princess Diane d’Orleans, Duchess of Cadaval and of Anjou and a member of the Portuguese royal family and her husband, Prince Charles-Philippe, Duke of Anjou and a member of the French royal family, and renowned Egyptian actor Omar Sharif.
The Chaine des Rotisseurs is an international gastronomic society that brings professional chefs, restaurant managers and owners together with non-professional food lovers. What binds them is an appreciation for fine dining and, apparently, a passion for tradition.
The ceremony was surprising to say the least–after a cocktail gathering outside the ballroom, the guests, decked out in evening dresses and suits, filed into the ceremony hall. Inductees sat in the first two rows and after an introduction by Mrs. Marie Jones, Officier Commandeur, Membre du Conseil d’Administration International, the process of inducting the new members began.
Once the inductee was given a purple sash, Jones was handed a sword which she lowered onto the inductee’s left shoulder as she recited the induction phrase. Thus the inductee became a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs and exited the stage to much applause.
After the ceremony, members and guests were ushered into the ballroom for dinner–a fine dining extravaganza that is not only meant to impress the attendees but also to challenge the hotel’s food and beverage team. In fact, challenging kitchen and banquet team members through organizing high quality dinners is one of the important roles of the Chaine’s Egyptian chapter, the ‘Bailliage d’Egypte’.
Jones is also the editor of the Chaine’s magazine and has, through her years at the Chaine, met some of the world’s most important gastronomes. During her introductory speech, she recalled a dinner with Jean Valby. "I reached across the table and was immediately reprimanded," recounted Jones. "M. Valby explained to me that you should never put more than your hand on the table–beyond your wrist is unacceptable." Jones was very enthusiastic about the Bailliage and about the new local inductees.
Princess Diane has also visited Egypt a number of times, even before she was married. "My husband proposed to me in Siwa," she mentioned during our conversation, "Egypt holds a very dear place in my heart."