The Five Founder Members
Valby, Curnonsky, Bécart, Dorin & Giraudon
First published in the 2010-1 '60th Anniversary' edition of the Chaîne International Magazine

At the end of 1949 in France, post-Second World War food restrictions began to be lifted and Jean Valby felt very fortunate to have managed to obtain a wonderful leg of lamb.

He invited two friends to enjoy it with him: Curnonsky (Prince of Gastronomes) and Dr Auguste Bécart. Mrs Valby was accorded the supreme responsibility of cooking the joint, her excellent skills came to the fore and it was done to perfection.

Encouraged by the enjoyment of the roasted meat the three ‘Musketeers’ agreed that given France’s gastronomic traditions, a movement was needed to give a new impetus to the art of cooking after the long period of deprivation during the War. Dr Bécart suggested that the movement should be based on simple and digestible (digestion was one of his research specialities) cooking, essentially roasted and grilled meats.

In addition to the three men who had so enjoyed Mrs Valby’s roast lamb, two others were invited to become founder members: Louis Giraudon and Marcel Dorin. At Easter in 1950 over a dinner at the Auberge de la Truite in the fashionable rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, la Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was created to resurrect the ideals of the Guild of Roasters disbanded in the early 1790s at the time of the French Revolution.

The five agreed a constitution and the text of the Oath: “I solemnly swear to always respect a joint roasted on a turning spit, and that I will do it justice. I promise I will always behave with respect and warmth towards my fellow members of la Chaîne in the knowledge that we all share the same ideas and principles.”


PEN PORTRAITS OF THE FIVE FOUNDER MEMBERS

JEAN VALBY (1903-1999)
Jean Valby was born in Burgundy, but in 1923 moved to Paris. After military service he stayed there and began a career in journalism: a career that he would passionately follow throughout his long life.

As time went by his journalistic activities led him, as if guided by some natural instinct and calling, to take a much greater interest in gastronomy. Valby was the driving force behind the creation of la Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. His vision was not to bring back to life the ancient Guild of Spit Roasters, simply to resurrect its spirit. His drive and influence enabled the Chaîne to develop into a worldwide association that continues to this day.

[Click here for an article on Jean Valby published in the 2007-2 edition of the Chaîne International Magazine

‘PRINCE' CURNONSKY - ELECTED PRINCE OF GASTRONOMES (1872-1956)
‘Curnonsky’ was the pen-name of Maurice Edmond Sailland. A French writer, novelist, biographer and gastronome, he was known as the ‘Prince of Gastronomes’. At the height of his repute it was said that 80 restaurants in and around Paris would hold a table every night in case he showed up.

Curnonsky was known for his appetite and size. He eventually combined his talents as a man of letters and a lover of good eating to the benefit of gastronomy by publishing many works, especially on provincial French cooking.

[Click here for an article on Curnonsky published in the 2006-1 edition of the Chaîne International Magazine

DR. AUGUSTE BÉCART (1896-1954)
Dr Bécart was a researcher in the field of medicine, specialising in two areas: digestive ailments and blood transfusions. He also applied his enquiring mind to gastronomy, developing and refining cooking methods and utensils. He became the first Vice-President of the Chaîne.

LOUIS GIRAUDON
Louis Giraudon was an established rôtisseur and spit-maker with premises near to the Bastille in Paris. After the Second World War he was the only supplier of suchlike equipment, demand having declined to virtually nothing since the First World War following the development of kitchen ranges to enable roasting in an oven.

As the only craftsman remaining, Giraudon knew all the restaurants with a spit-roasting facility - they were his customers! With his encouragement, many of the owners and chefs immediately became Chaîne members - the first Maître Rôtisseurs.

MARCEL DORIN
A master chef and rôtisseur, Marcel Dorin moved from his native Normandy to Paris where he opened several restaurants among them the Auberge de la Truite in the rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré (where the Chaîne was formally ‘born’).

He was a kind man full of enthusiasm, but above all was a consummate professional and thus a key element in the success of the Chaîne.