Inside the ultimate foodie privilege—an evening with the Naples chapter of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs
The curtains were drawn, the lights dimmed. A man emerged, draped in a silver medallion and a green ribbon weighed down by more metal pins than seeds on a strawberry. I winced at any of his abrupt movements, half-expecting the thick, wide band of regal silk to split in two.
That did not happen, but the evening certainly had its share of drama: The curious figure addressed the crowd, peppering his English with French, sword at his side—a footlong dagger that appeared poached from a medieval swashbuckler (or the baddest carving knife ever to touch a Thanksgiving turkey). But wait; as the ceremony crested, he flashed another blade, this one long and slender, perfect for a duel or skewering meats churrasco-style. All 83 pairs of eyes watched the gentleman, Charles Radlauer, M.D. and J.D., knight 14 initiates into his fraternal organization. As he touched the metal to each shoulder, careful not to slice the new ribbons placed around their necks, he said, “By the power vested in me by the Conseil Magistral, je vous consacre Chevalier de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.”
There were no fight songs or secret handshakes, but from the blue robes capped with scholarly berets, never-empty glasses of unoaked chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, toasts of “Vive la Chaîne” and emergence of a knotted Moses-like anointing staff (“a grapevine straight from Napa!”), I’d bet my only bottle of 1969 Château Lafite Rothschild that this was no ordinary night at the Naples Yacht Club. READ MORE ….