USA - Judy Mazza
Bailliage of Washington DC
Washington, DC, January 4, 2021
The Chaîne during the pandemic
" Communication is key to making the Bailliage grow and keeping everyone involved "

Hello, I am Judy Mazza, Bailli of the Bailliage of Greater Washington DC. Bertrand de Boutray, our new Bailli Délégué, asked me to record a few minutes about what the Bailliage has been doing. Let us call it, “Chaîne in the time of COVID-19”.

In the last 10 years, our Bailliage had become one of the largest and most active in the country. Pre-pandemic we had 9-12 events a year which ranged from formal gala and induction events to informal “Chaîne on the Edge” occasions where we explored new unfamiliar cuisines.

We had also started a new type of event which we called “Behind the scenes with culinary professionals - see where the magic happens”. At these fun events we visited culinary professionals’ kitchens and learned from them how, for instance, they made artisanal chocolate, or salami and charcuterie. Obviously, much was going to have to change once COVID-19 arrived.

Since the pandemic began with the shut-down in March 2020 we had an event we called “Chez Vous” in April where members sent photos of food they had delivered and wrote a sentence or two about it.

In May, we reached out to our Professional members to see if they would like to create multi-course delivered dinners, as a way of giving them business and bringing them to our members’ attention. We had the delivery person take a wrapped gift of appreciation back to the chef that they opened during the Zoom meeting. It is important to take care of our own and let the Chefs know how much we appreciated their work.

We wanted to provide a variety of experiences for our members at different price points. So, in addition to those delivered dinners, we have had wine-and-cheese educational classes, a “Bubbles and Baking” cooking class held by a former White House Chef, and to start the Holidays, a caviar and champagne class. [Ed. see separate article]

Some of our events are only available for those in the DC area, and some are “geography free” where we ship to anywhere in the United States then gathering on Zoom to share the experience.

As you can imagine there is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and work that goes into making everything run smoothly and it would not be possible without a great team, i.e. the Bailliage officers who give of their time and creativity.

Communication is key to making the Bailliage grow and keeping everyone involved. The Bailliage’s website is critical to communication with our members as well as with Chaîne members and guests around the world. We have invested significant resources in making the website functional, informative, and interesting. Keeping it up to date is of course essential.

The website has been a factor in attracting new members to our Bailliage, even during the pandemic! We also brought attention to our Professional members with a special page on our website to highlight Chefs and venues where we held recent Chaîne events and who were open during the pandemic for delivery, carryout or curbside pickup.

We strive to keep our Bailliage diverse and not just in terms of ethnicity and professional affiliations. Attracting younger members to have more age diversity is an ongoing wish. Like everyone, we had a lot of plans which were put on hold early last year due to COVID-19. The definition of resilience is the ability to adapt to changing conditions, and adapt we have.

Vive la Chaîne!

Judy Mazza