The nine 2018 Chaîne des Rôtisseurs inductees are sworn in, including our own Senior Editor/Publisher Mike Fryer (4th from right) and Journalist Don Chareunsy (5th from right).

In comparison with other cities, Las Vegas has a relatively short history of world-class culinary excellence. Yet, there is one convivial group in this city that meets several times a year to enjoy the “pleasures of the table” that is the oldest and largest gastronomic society in the world. 

This group devoted to fine food and wine is none other than Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, which originally was a formation of the French Royal Guild of Meat Roasters and traces its origins to 1248. Re-established in Paris in 1950 and launched in Las Vegas in 1959, today the organization has chapters in over 80 countries, and there are more than 130 bailliages (chapters) in the U.S. with over 6,000 members. 

The diverse makeup of the members includes gourmets, gastronomes, chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers, oenologists, winery owners, sommeliers, food and wine educators, journalists and those from all walks of life who are interested in the finest of dining and life experiences and enjoying the camaraderie of friends at dinners and events. The common denominator among members is their passion for exceptional food and wines. Local, regional, national and international dinners and events merge these kindred spirits. Because of the Chaîne’s global outreach, members find a warm welcome when in a city where a chapter is located.

Las Vegas Bailliage members are an eclectic mix of movers and shakers in the community and rising stars in the hospitality industry. Meetings are held at a variety of venues that have ranged from a roving feast among the restaurants at Crystals to Michelin three-star extravaganzas. 

2018 Induction Dinner 

I had the tremendous honor to experience the camaraderie of this prestigious organization firsthand, attending the annual 2018 induction dinner, held on December 19 at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. To start things off, the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard marched in. Ira Falk, the executive vice president of all U.S. chapters, presented Las Vegas chapter Bailli (President) Larry Ruvo with a pin for his 30 years as a member. Shortly after, nine new members were sworn in by Falk, who conferred their titles with a “sword” modeled after a larding needle, a device used to insert fat into meats to help keep them moist during cooking. Members were presented with their ribbons, which resemble sashes, whose colors coincide with their profession. Other members could be seen throughout the assemblage with varying colors representing their positions as a club officer. Impressive to my eyes were several that were almost completely covered with pins commemorating various dinner events they had attended over their years as members.

As for the dinner, it included passed appetizers of chilled capellini pasta, sashimi Mediterranean octopus, bacon crostino and robata-grilled Kobe ribeye skewers; courses of king crab trio, Hudson Valley duck confit, fillet mignon and New Bedford sea scallops and Peruvian chocolate soup. As if this repast wasn’t enough to fill us up, at the conclusion of the dinner we were invited to visit the “Sweet Escape Room” with a variety of gelatos, milkshakes and sweet treats. This incredibly decadent feast was prepared by a team of 13 world-class chefs from some of Las Vegas’ finest restaurants—Juventino Magana/CoCo’s, Jesse Maldonado/Estiatorio Milos, Luciano Pellegrini/Marche Bacchus, Benoit Cornet & Dia Young/Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Khai Vu/Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar, Brian Howard/Sparrow & Wolf, Barry Dakake/Scotch 80 Prime, Brad Daniels/Vetri Cucina, Matthew Silverman & Matt Piekarski/Hexx Kitchen and Stephen Parker & Cody Thomas/Black Tap—paired with some of the world’s most prestigious French Champagnes, including Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs, 2008 Drappier “Grande Sendree” and 2009 Dom Perignon.

In addition to the excellent food and wine, we were entertained throughout the evening by Laura Shaffer and the 7-piece Lon Bronson Band; the TinselTones Carolers; Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson; Sean & John from the Absinthe show; Pendleton the 3rd from the Opium show; and Elvis impersonator Harry Shahoian, who led an interactive “12 Days of Christmas” with representatives from each table providing their hilarious interpretations via dance and gyrations of each day’s gifts.

What Members Have to Say

Richard Gordon, President of Laurich Properties, Inc., is an officer in the local chapter, holding the title of Vice Charge de Missions. He credits his father with instilling in him a great appreciation for fine dining at a young age. Gordon said, “I was first introduced to the Chaîne in the early 1980s when I was perhaps 20 years old. My father continued to take me to Chaîne events as a young person. It was therefore natural that when my wife and I moved to Las Vegas in 1993, that we would join the Las Vegas chapter. If memory serves, I was inducted in 1994. Being an officer in the Chaîne means a great deal to me. The great majority of our members are in the food or beverage service industry. I am not. Therefore to be accepted into this society as a non-food service professional in an officer-ship role, is very special to me. I can’t say enough about the amazing job Larry Ruvo, Michael Severino and the good folks at Southern (Glazer’s Wine and Spirits) have done over the past 25 years that I have been in the chapter.”

A new member inducted at the dinner was Don Chareunsy, a freelance writer whose work has graced this publication on more than one occasion, as well as M Life, Pacific San Diego Magazine, Vegas Magazine, the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Review-Journal. Don was asked by Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Michael Severino (of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits) to be the Charge de Presse of the Bailiage of Las Vegas after the passing this year of Marilyn LeRocque, who served in this position for more than two decades. Don said, “It is an honor to follow in Ms. LeRocque’s footsteps, and I hope to serve the Bailiage with pride and respect. Induction into The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs allows me to shine the spotlight on the incredible and world-class culinary industry in Las Vegas, from the restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists and sommeliers to the managers, writers and all the other integral and very important restaurant employees. It also allows me to continue the legacy of Mr. Robin Leach, my colleague, friend, mentor and advocate of 10 years in Las Vegas who passed away in August.” 

Also newly inducted was Brian Van Flandern, Southern Glazer’s Executive Director of Mixology, Spirits Education and Special Events, who relates he and his wife Kelly have always been huge “foodies” with a tremendous respect for those who have dedicated their lives to the culinary arts. On becoming a member he shared, “Given the sheer volume of iconic culinary luminaries who have joined the Chaîne, both past and present, I am truly honored to just have been considered worthy of induction. A truly great culinary experience is not just about great food and drink, it is about experiencing different culinary perspectives with others who share your devotion to the industry. The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs provides a true sense of camaraderie for gourmands everywhere.  This is a wonderful opportunity for me to expand my social network of colleagues and friends, in the hospitality industry, all around the globe. Chaîne dinners will allow me to stay current with new culinary trends as well as to socialize with the brightest stars in the world of great cuisine.” 

Inducted in 2009, Blake Myers, owner of the website “Bestofvegasdining.com,” has a mission to seek out the best restaurants in the Las Vegas Valley and recommend them to readers from around the globe and relies on the input of fellow Chaîne members to keep him abreast of new restaurant openings and the constantly-evolving dining scene. Blake commented, “Though we didn’t have a Chaîne chapter in our former hometown, for many years we attended numerous Chaîne dinners with friends who were members.  From San Juan, Puerto Rico to Oregon, from Florida to California we enjoyed fine food and wine in the company of our fellow connoisseurs. After moving here 10 years ago I sought out the local chapter because I wanted to belong to an organization that celebrates fine food and wine. Membership allows my wife and me regularly to share our love of food and wine with other like-minded individuals and to experience the fellowship provided by our Chaîne chapter’s regularly scheduled dinners.”

A Chat
with Ira Falk

Ira Falk holds both national and international Chaîne des Rôtisseurs officer positions of Chancelier des Etats-Unis (Vice-President of the United States Chapters) and Membre des Conseils D’Administration et Magistral (Member of the International Board of Directors). We asked him about some of the ins and outs of the Chaîne organization.

What different professions are represented in Chaîne? 

Professional members are generally comprised of but not limited to, Chefs (both young and extremely experienced), Beverage Professionals (i.e., wine, spirits, and other crafted beverages), Hoteliers, Culinary Industry Product Producers and Hospitality Industry Educators.

How does being a member benefit or help one to excel in their profession?

The Chaîne provides significant, if not always a direct, benefit to almost every working person who shares an evening with us as we all become acquainted with and often befriend people who represent the proverbial “movers and shakers” within a given community. If you are in the hospitality industry, particularly luxury brands, Chaîne members are the client you strive to attract. But being candid and clear, the Chaîne is not only about the promotion of fine dining, food and wine, it is about the people and friendships we make, both as members of the Chaîne and throughout our lives, that matters most.  

How does one become a member? 

Membership is by invitation. Anyone can reach out to one of our Bailliages (chapters) which are identified on our website (www.chainesus.org) and speak to the Bailli (chapter president) to learn more about the Chaîne, the local chapter and upcoming events. Membership opportunities will stem from that initial conversation. 

What does being a member mean to you?

My Chaîne membership has come to mean different things at different times. Sometimes it is all about the gathering of friends, both old and new, that seems most important. Other times it is the unique opportunity to try the ‘latest and greatest’ in food and beverage that motivates us to attend an event. 

We certainly relish in the opportunity to meet, greet and spend time with chefs, winemakers, sommeliers and other hospitality professionals as we learn more about them, their trade and their vision for the future. However in retrospect, I think what the Chaîne means most to me can be found in the fact that most members find that a large majority of their friend-base ends up being comprised of other Chaîne members. I truly believe that this is because, en masse, most of us share a tremendous amount in common; and it all starts with great food, wine and dining experiences.  

For general information about Chaîne des Rôtisseurs access www.chainesus.org and chainederotisseurslv.com; and to view all the ribbons in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs visit www.chainedesrotisseurs.com/ribbons.php. For Las Vegas information, contact sgraham@southernwine.com.