Great Britain Grand Chapitre
London, October 3-6, 2019
Happy 60th Anniversary Chaîne GB!
" My sincere thanks to the whole team that made this all possible "

Some 350 Chaîne members from over 20 countries worldwide descended on London to share in the special celebrations of National Bailliage’s 60th Anniversary.

An informal start brought people together with lunch at The Clink restaurant in Brixton Prison, where we were welcomed by CEO Chris Moore. This restaurant produces Michelin standard food with many ingredients from The Clink’s gardens and is staffed by serving prisoners under training.

The formal programme was launched with a dinner on the River Thames in the Bateaux London’s ‘Glass Room’ boat. Diners had stunning views of the many illuminated iconic buildings situated along the banks of the river on a journey from Westminster to the Thames Barrier and back. Old friends were greeted and new acquaintances made. To the sounds of live jazz entertainment a four-course dinner prepared by Maître Rôtisseur Emeline Gibert was served.

A visit to the historic home of Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace was very popular the following day. Experienced guides in costume gave a tour of the Great Hall, the Royal Chapel, Royal Apartments, Cumberland Art Galleries, the kitchens and wine cellars. This was followed by a much-acclaimed lunch at The Wharf on Teddington Lock.

That evening the Welcome Dinner was held in the magnificent surroundings of the Fishmongers’ Hall. The Fishmongers Guild was formed in 1272, thus nearly 750 years of continuous operation. It is one of the twelve senior Guilds of the City of London and a fitting venue for the Chaîne. The reception was held in the Court Room, which overlooks the Thames and which is graced by the world-famous Pietro Anigonni painting of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Moving into the exquisite Banqueting Hall for dinner a warm welcome was given to Inducting Officer Carl Wachtmeister, Member of the Conseil d’Administration from Sweden, his wife Anna and many others including regulars to these events.

Head Chef, Maître Rôtisseur Stefan Pini, has the reputation of cooking one of the best Guild dinners in the City. Most impressive of all was that he could co-ordinate a sumptuous menu of perfectly-cooked food (especially the rack of lamb) for over 200 people.

The Induction Ceremony was held on Saturday morning at the beautiful Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, known as the “Arts & Crafts Cathedral of London”. Before the ceremony began Father Nicholas Wheeler welcomed everyone and gave a historical background of the church.

Alternative activities were:
- a visit to Sir Winston Churchill’s home at Chartwell in the Kent countryside
- touring the Beefeater Gin Distillery
- a chocolate workshop given by Master Chocolatier William Curley.

That evening some 300 members attended the Gala Dinner held in the Nine Kings Suite at the splendidly-refurbished Royal Lancaster Hotel. Guests had a photo opportunity with the original Mini Minor car (also celebrating 60 years) or the latest version Mini, both brought in especially for the occasion, whilst welcoming drinks were served. The evening was hugely successful and most enjoyable, good food with wines from around the globe, all enhanced by Comedian/Pianist Kev Orkian who had everyone in tears of laughter.

During the course of the evening a raffle was held in aid of The Clink being the Bailliage of Great Britain’s chosen charity.

Finally, the hotel’s General Manager, Officer Maître Hotelier Sally Beck, received the applause of the diners on behalf of the hotel’s team.

There were two options available for Sunday: a Champagne tea in the Crystal Moon Lounge at the Corinthia Hotel or a ‘Celebration of English Cheese and Wines’ led by Cheesemaster Tom Badcock of Harvey & Brockless with 15 cheeses matched to perfection by superb modern English wines.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the Grand Chapitre took place on the Sunday evening with a once-in-a-lifetime private visit to the Tower of London. Once the public had left for the day a private guided tour was led by warders (Beefeaters) in their splendid uniforms. This included a much-anticipated viewing of the famous Crown Jewels.

A group photograph was taken in front of Tower Bridge before members climbed the 70 steps through the armouries to the top floor of the famous 1000-year-old White Tower. After the drinks reception, guests were served with an impressive four course dinner prepared by The Foodshow, founded by Officier Maître Restaurateur Andrew Gosling, with the menu designed and executed by Maître Rôtisseur Max Uyanik.

For this dinner to take place two things were necessary. Firstly, Laura Drake, Marketing Manager for the Tower, graciously made the building available free of charge for the evening and secondly everything had to be brought in for the evening including the food. It was another amazing display of co-ordination and perfect timing.

During the ceremony of “closing the Tower” which has taken place every day unbroken for hundreds of years, even during the war-time Blitz, diners were ‘locked in’ and entertained with stories by a warder.

A superb conclusion to an exceptional 60th year celebration with new friends made and happy memories to savour.

My sincere thanks to the whole team that made this all possible and a particular thanks to Andy Kemp and Andrew Roberts of Bidfood for their support of the event.

Philip Evins
Bailli Délégué