Great Britain Grand Chapitre
Brighton, October 4-7, 2018
Enjoying the delights of the south coast
" Most breath-taking was the State Banqueting Room where we were to dine "

An international gathering of Chaîne members arriving in Brighton was delighted at the ‘summery’ weather in evidence on the south coast.

Based at The Grand Hotel our weekend of activities began immediately with a marvellous dinner cooked to perfection at The Jetty, Brighton Harbour Hotel’s restaurant. It was prepared under the guidance of Michelin-starred Chefs Alex Aitken and Jon Howard. General Manager Attila Domby, Maître Hotelier, ensured all went smoothly.

Friday’s schedule offered two choices: historic Lewes with its majestic castle and Anne of Cleeves House or award-winning Ridgeview wine estate including a tutored tasting by Mardi Roberts, Marketing and Communications Director, who is Vice-Échanson of Sussex.

Everyone then came together to board the world-famous Bluebell Railway for a light lunch as the Wealden Rambler steam-hauled them through Sussex farmland.

Dinner was in the Gladstone Suite at South Lodge in Lower Beeding, near Horsham. The hotel is one of Danny Pecorelli’s Exclusive Group. General Manager David Connell, Maître Hotelier, and his team looked after us wonderfully. A seductive selection of regional treats tickled our taste buds.

Saturday’s programme commenced in the morning with a hugely successful Induction Ceremony presided over by International Vice-President Marie Jones in her home town. The formal occasion was followed by a private reception in Brighton’s i360 - a 200-person glass pod which rises 500 feet above the promenade giving incredible views of the city and coast - on a clear day!

For those not participating in the Ceremony, one option was Arundel with its castle where the Duke of Norfolk’s family still live. Knowledgeable guides gave an interesting, enlightening tour including the chance to see works by Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto. Otherwise some members simply explored Brighton.

The Gala Dinner was hosted by The Grand’s General Manager, Maître Hôtelier Andrew Mosley, in the hotel’s Empress Suite. At the reception we enjoyed glasses of Coates and Seely’s Hampshire Brut Reserve, an English sparkling wine. Stunning table decorations complemented the exquisite, eclectic menu prepared by Executive Chef Alan White, Maître Rôtisseur, and his brigade. The courses were coupled with superlative wines from Italy, France, Australia, America and Spain.

We were entertained by a marvellous impresario impressionist who mimicked several singing styles encouraging many to dance. During the evening we raised money for our charity, The Clink, through a raffle with its excellent prizes.

Sunday brought a special treat: a tour and lunch at Nyetimber vineyards, another English sparkling wine producer, which is not open to the public. The winery is in a beautiful location. Eloquent, erudite guides informed us about the outstanding, award-winning wines which we sampled. Top tips on avoiding being hurt by badgers involved wearing oversized Wellington boots and carrying sticks! The owners, Professionel du Vin Eric Hereema and his wife Hannah, joined us after lunch in the White Barn.

In the evening the black tie event was in the Royal Pavilion, former “Weekend Pad” of King George IV bought whilst he was Prince Regent. This idiosyncratic amalgamation of Indian-inspired exterior and Chinese-inspired interior delighted the diners. The event began with a sparkling reception in the Great Kitchen where back in 1817 a meal involving over 100 dishes had been created by celebrated chef Antonin Carême.

During an insightful tour before dinner we visited a renovated salon with walls covered in platinum leaf reopened just a few days before. The only previous guests were Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Most breath-taking was the State Banqueting Room where we were to dine.

A perfect finale of six courses with a suitable Sussex influence was mixed with appropriate nods to Asia. A truly appropriate menu with outstanding wines in an unbeatable location signified everything that makes the Chaîne the amazing institution that it is. The “Santé du chef”, which of course included the service brigade, rang out loud and clear at the end of the evening bringing to a close a charming, creative, convivial Grand Chapitre.

Leslie Cuthbert
Vice-Échanson, Bailliage of London City