Gérard Bechler Jean Joho Hubert Keller Raymond Ost
Gérard Bechler
Pâtisserie Bechler
Pacific Grove, CA
Jean Joho
Hubert Keller
Fleur de Lys
San Francisco
Raymond Ost
Cambridge, MA
André Soltner Jean-Georges VongerichtenVongerichten
Une Soirée Alsacienne
André Soltner
The French Culinary
Jean Georges

Tuesday, March 27, 7:00 p.m.
Members $150, guests $175

The first invasion of America by French chefs can be dated to the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Sure, there were French-born cooks in American kitchens before then, but the restaurant at the French Pavilion was a watershed; it gave Americans en masse a taste of the culinary wonders beyond. Today, any list of great American chefs includes a bunch of people with hyphenated first names and foreign accents. But what you might not know is that many of them come from just a couple of regions of la République. There's a gang from Gascony, but you probably knew that already. What concerns us for this extraordinary soirée chez Beard is an array of chefs from Alsace.

Located in the northeastern tip of the French hexagon, Alsace is a verdant region whose national and cultural allegiances have toggled between France and Germany over the centuries. So has the cuisine, which is rich with sausages and smoked meat, sauerkraut, baked goods, fresh cream, and fine German-style wines vinified dry. Home of the brasserie and quiche Lorraine, it is a region that has contributed much to the world of fine dining.

If ever there was a dean of modern French cooking in America, and an Alsatian one at that, André Soltner fits the bill, both literally and figuratively. It was while he was cooking at his beloved Lutèce that the world took note of this fine son of Alsace. For more than 30 years, never missing a day, he cooked what many believed to be the best food in the country. Now, as a dean at the French Culinary Institute, Soltner has a chance to travel, teach, relax, and coordinate special events such as this.

Joining him in Jim's kitchen will be several James Beard Award winners, Alsatians every one. Since 1986, Jean Joho has given restaurant diners something to look up to. That's because his elegant and acclaimed Everest dining room sits on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange. Back on earth, Joho's been busy winning awards for places like Brasserie Jo and the Corner Bakery. His friend Hubert Keller is coming from San Francisco, where he calls the batik-tented Fleur de Lys home. Keller cooks sophisticated French cuisine with a California influence that, according to Gourmet, "amazes with feats of technical wizardry." Jean-Georges Vongerichten first took New York by storm at Lafayette. JoJo, Vong, Jean Georges, and Mercer Kitchen were to follow. Next it was London, then Hong Kong. And now he has set his eyes on Paris, where a restaurant is in the works. But despite his forays into Thai and Manhattan chic, it's Alsace where Vongerichten is from, and that's the food he'll be cooking tonight.

Maître Cuisinier de France Raymond Ost has taken a classic dish from his homeland, flammeküeche, and turned it into the signature at Sandrine's, an Alsatian bistro in Cambridge, Massachusetts. First he established himself as the executive chef of Le Meridien Boston. There, under his direction, the restaurant Julien was singled out as number one in town by Gourmet magazine readers. Now, at Sandrine's, the accolades haven't stopped.

Pierre Schaedlin is the new kid on the block. Well, sort of. Having just taken over the kitchens at Le Cirque 2000, he has the reputation of one of the most famous restaurants in the world to live up to. That's not to say he isn't ready for the challenge. His mentor was Paul Haeberlin of Alsace's Michelin three-star Auberge de l'Ill. And then it was on to Alain Ducasse's kitchens at Louis XV in Monaco.

Of the bunch, Jean-Yves Schillinger may be the one with the most experience cooking in Alsace proper. At his family's Michelin two-star restaurant, he gained hands-on experience from the time he was very young. He worked in Joël Robuchon's three-star kitchens at Jamin before taking over the family restaurant himself. A fateful turn of events brought him to New York, where he opened Destinée. French tapas with an Alsatian twist are on the menu at his second restaurant, L'Actuel.

There's more to Alsatian sweets than kougelhopf and baba au rhum (even though for some that's enough). That's why Gérard Bechler of Pâtisserie Bechler is coming too. Bechler apprenticed at his father's pastry shop and worked in Deauville, France, before he was offered the head pastry position in the kitchen of the Michelin three-star Auberge de l'Ile, a temple of haute cuisine in Alsace. He remained there until love and circumstance brought him to Pacific Grove to open Pâtisserie Bechler, which supplies more than 25 top-shelf restaurants and catering companies with fine desserts. It's Bechler's creations that are also served at the annual Masters of Food & Wine in Carmel.

Pierre Schaedelin
Canapés and Amuse-Bouches

Jean Joho
Sturgeon and Sauerkraut Soup with Caviar

Hubert Keller
Terrine of Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Gewürztraminer Gelée, Onion Marmalade, and Flowerpot Brioche

Jean-Yves Schillinger
Pan-Seared Salmon Trout with Brochette of Escargots, Fleischschnacka de Légumes, and Pinot Noir Sauce

Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Raymond Ost
Potatoes with Warm Muenster and Cumin, Cabbage Salad with Grapes, and Truffle-Juice Vinaigrette

Gérard Bechler
Brie au Kirsch with Créme Anglaise


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