Downton Abbey Inspires a Les Chaine des Rotisseurs Dinner at the Pleasantdale Chateau

An evening of elegance at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange.

Rosie will be on vacation until mid-March. Today, a post by guest blogger Deborah Carter.

Long before modern-day foodies snapped their first pictures and posted them on Instagram, back when social interaction meant in person, the Chaine des Rotisseurs began its tradition as a network for the culinary minded to bond over fine-dining events, enjoy and encourage excellence in hospitality, and support and promote young chefs and sommeliers.

Founded in Paris, France, in 1248, this group was originally convened to support and improve the technical knowledge of professional goose roasters. Centuries later, the Chaine, which was resurrected and recast into its current incarnation during the 1950s, thrives as an international, members-only dining group that hosts gourmet events and cultural trips and tours for its 6,000 professional and nonprofessional members in the U.S., and 20,000-plus in 80 other countries.

One such event was recently held in West Orange: a Downton Abbey dinner. The popular PBS television show, a British historical drama set in 1920s, follows the lives of the fictional aristocratic Grantham family and their live-in servants. (If you’ve not seen it, time for a binge watching session!)

What better organization to host a period dinner, and what better venue than a grand manse like the Pleasantdale Chateau to play host to the Chaine’s oldest New Jersey chapter?

On January 27, lords and ladies (Chaine members and their guests) were decked out in period finery for a multi-course meal, served with bells and whistles befitting nobility. Kurt Knowles, a Chaine member (vice conseiller culinaire), whose family owns the Chateau, presided over the evening’s festivities.  The event started with a cocktail hour using spirits popular in the 1920s to create beverages named after the show’s main characters. After cocktail hour, the Chaine des Rotisseurs held its formal 54th annual induction ceremony—this too, rang of 19th century pageantry with swords used to dub members into their new ranks.

Dinner, a feast prepared by Pleasantdale executive chef Robert Albers, who did extensive research for the six-course meal, was served in Downton Abbey fashion by the staff attired in period uniforms. The grand table in the Chateau’s Music Room ran nearly the length of the room and was splendidly set with flowers and silver candelabra. The menu, each course paired with wines appropriate to the era, was as follows:

Garnished with Fried Herbed Brioche
Blandy’s 10 Year Verdelho

English Cucumbers, Curly Parsley, Tomato Rose,
Lemon Wedge, Sauce Vert
Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett 2014

Glazed Baby Turnips, Blackberry Sauce
Joseph Drouhin Cote de Nuits-Villages 2013

Matchstick Potatoes, Mushroom Ragoût, Mornay Sauce
Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007

Colorado Rack & Confit Shoulder
Timbale of Minted Green Peas and Creamed Carrots,
Affilia Cress, Garlic Chips, Lamb Sauce
Château Grivière 2011

Château de Cosse 2009

The evening closed, like a proper English meal of the era, with the ladies retiring to the drawing room for tea and pastries, while the gentleman enjoyed port and cigars. True to its doctrine, the Chaine des Rotisseurs delivered a stellar evening of social engagement and exceptional cuisine.

For more information on the Chaine des Rotisseurs, visit

From left: Sharon Sevrens, Paula Marino,  Deborah Hirsch, Peter Hirsch, Diana Stroup, John Sebastiano, Robin Jacobs

Table setting



Tribute to Joe Marino, chapter Bailli.

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Eat & Drink, Table Hopping articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown