How Chaine Des Rotisseurs Honors The Timeless Art Of Gastronomy

Sure, food is art, food is hard work, and food can be elitist. Depending on what circles you frequent, some foods might even be considered "better" than other foods. (Think foie gras versus a Big Mac.) But, as many food critics and writers seem to forget, food is also a lot of fun, and it's frankly really cool. As Anthony Bourdain put it, "Anyone who's a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: 'Is it good? Does it give pleasure?'" Many of us are all about cooking for the love of food — a sentiment Chaîne des Rôtisseurs shares.

Per its website, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs defines itself as an "International Association of Gastronomy" that "brings together enthusiasts who share the same values of quality, fine dining, the encouragement of the culinary arts and the pleasures of the table." The association is membered by a combination of professional chefs and amateur home cooks. In short, if you self-identify as a "foodie" in any capacity, you have a place with Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. This inclusivity is a core value depicted in the organization's coat of arms, which was designed in 1610 and depicts two crossed spits and four larding needles encircled in a fleur de lis and two chains. The inner chain represents the professionals working in the organizations, and the outer chain represents the amateur food enthusiasts. Here's how they work together to foster their love of all things culinary.

A history of love for food

The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs may be bringing the art of gastronomy into the modern era, but the organization dates back to the 13th century. In 1248, King Louis IX of France created the professional Guild of Goose Roasters (yes, really) to foster a deeper knowledge of culinary arts. The guild held down France's professional food scene for four centuries until 1793, when the guild system was obliterated during the French Revolution and subsequently the "Royal Table" was "fin." Enter: the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, whose name is a nod to the group's humble goose-roasting origin.

Today, the association spans over 75 countries and encompasses nearly 21,000 members, 16,000 of which are non-professionals. The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs has a presence in almost 180 private clubs, chefs, and sommeliers of over 2,200 restaurants, 3,000 fine dining establishments, over 200 prestigious culinary schools, more than 250 vineyards, and nearly 90 air and cruise lines. The organization even has its own tartan plaid. 

With such a massive global presence, the group is divided into regional branches called "Bailliages." Upon induction, members are presented with different colored medals and ribbons depending on their area of culinary expertise. They're also given a card that allows them to attend a number of exclusive events held by the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, such as competitions and black-tie dining events at prestigious restaurants. But, that's only where the association's activities begin.

Sharing culinary passion with the next generation

In 1963, the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs established a specific division focused on wine and spirits, the Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs (OMGD). Led by expert and novice sommeliers alike, the association values every player in the food scene and gives everyone an equal seat at the table, eliminating the hierarchical structure of the fine dining scene.

Today, the association keeps the ball rolling with its annual international competitions, the Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs and Jeunes Sommeliers. Unlike other cooking competitions which showcase the work of seasoned professionals, these competitions shift young chefs into the spotlight, designed to inspire, challenge, and educate the next generation of foodies.

The group also actively works to broaden food accessibility on a global scale with humanitarian relief work and food security initiatives like the Association Caritative de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an official charity based in Paris. As the Bailliage de New York puts it, the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is for anyone who "due to their interest in learning and/or well-traveled backgrounds, are in a position to enjoy the pleasures engendered by good cuisine, good wine, and good company."

Strides toward inclusivity in the fine dining world

Still, for as many important strides as the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs has made and continues to make in the name of accessibility around the food scene, it remains a highly prestigious organization. Members include the chefs of two and three Michelin-starred restaurants, and in April 2023, celebrity chef Fabrizio Facchini was inducted as a Maitre Rotisseur of the Bailliage de New York. The Bailliage de New York (the oldest U.S. chapter) held its first induction ceremony at the historic Biltmore Hotel in 1960 and has since hosted events at Per Se, DANIEL, and CIA Hyde Park. The group also requires admission fees and membership dues. While an exact price isn't listed on any of the organization's websites, according to the Bailliage of the United Arab Emirates, the 2023 late renewal fee alone was AED 525 (roughly $143 USD).

Still, for all its glamor, a love of food and all the accouterments that come with it are at the heart of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' mission and legacy. Under the organization's masthead, hotel owners, food and equipment suppliers, writers, critics, chefs, sommeliers, business managers, and restaurateurs can all come together to celebrate and perpetuate the food scene for what it is: One big amalgamation of the things that make us human.