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Jean Banchet Award Nominees Announced

Jean Banchet Award Nominees Announced
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  • Jean Banchet Award Nominees Announced

    Post #1 - August 24th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Post #1 - August 24th, 2010, 3:59 pm Post #1 - August 24th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Does anyone know the current wherabouts of the ex-La Francais chef, Jean Vanchet?

    I had heard he moved to Atlanta but his wife still lives in Wheeling.

    Anyone have an update if he still cooks any longer or is still in the area?

    Thanks!
    TB
  • Post #2 - August 24th, 2010, 4:04 pm
    Post #2 - August 24th, 2010, 4:04 pm Post #2 - August 24th, 2010, 4:04 pm
    Hi,

    I saw within the last two years helping his former Le Francais sous chef Patrick Chabert prepare a dinner.

    I heard he moved to Florida.

    You can inquire perhaps through Patrick Chabert at p.chabert@comcast.net or leave a cell phone message at 312 215-4688).

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - August 25th, 2010, 11:31 am
    Post #3 - August 25th, 2010, 11:31 am Post #3 - August 25th, 2010, 11:31 am
    Excellent info.

    Thank you!

    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    I saw within the last two years helping his former Le Francais sous chef Patrick Chabert prepare a dinner.

    I heard he moved to Florida.

    You can inquire perhaps through Patrick Chabert at p.chabert@comcast.net or leave a cell phone message at 312 215-4688).

    Regards,
  • Post #4 - November 19th, 2013, 7:45 pm
    Post #4 - November 19th, 2013, 7:45 pm Post #4 - November 19th, 2013, 7:45 pm
    It's on to the next culinary award even though the news of Michelin's stars, awarded last week, barely has faded.

    Now it's time for the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence, where 44 people in Chicago's culinary industry are vying for one of 11 awards.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... -announced
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #5 - November 24th, 2013, 10:33 pm
    Post #5 - November 24th, 2013, 10:33 pm Post #5 - November 24th, 2013, 10:33 pm
    Hi,

    I just learned Jean Banchet died today.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - November 25th, 2013, 9:21 am
    Post #6 - November 25th, 2013, 9:21 am Post #6 - November 25th, 2013, 9:21 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    I just learned Jean Banchet died today.

    Regards,

    I was a bit nervous after stating this, because I could not find any news outlet stating this, though the Chicago Tribune just uploaded their obituary.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - November 25th, 2013, 10:24 am
    Post #7 - November 25th, 2013, 10:24 am Post #7 - November 25th, 2013, 10:24 am
    Shocking and very sad news about JEAN BANCHET

    Here are a few lines I wrote about him and Le Francais on my blog French Virtual Cafe

    When Jean Banchet and Henri Coudrier, two authentic French chefs with already solid professional references in their resume, along with their respective wives Doris and Danielle, opened this marvelous place in March in an old German tavern at 269 South Milwaukee avenue in Wheeling, a few miles North of O’Hare airport, they probably had no idea that this place would rapidly become a Mecca for gastronomes from all over the United States. Nobody could have guessed that so many diners would drive so far away from the city to eat. It was very unusual in the early seventies to open such an opulent gastronomic restaurant in a distant and not really fancy suburb. In fact, 3 years later, rich Texans would fly there for dinner, landing their private jets at the nearby Palwaukee airport. Probably no French haute cuisine restaurant in the U.S, outside of New York City, since the days of Le Pavillon, La Côte Basque, Lutèce or La Grenouille, had reached such a national and even, later on, international notoriety so rapidly. Except of course Le Perroquet mentioned earlier, but at a very different level.
    At his zenith, in the early 80’s Le Français would be named ‘’Best restaurant in America’’ by Bon Appétit, and get 5 stars from the Mobil Guide.
    Henri Coudrier who was a chef at Chez Paul in Chicago before joining Banchet unfortunately was forced to give up his partnership there after a few months due to illness.

    Jean Banchet was not exactly a newcomer tom Chicago. In 1968 Arnie Morton had recruited him, along with some other chefs and cooks from France, to work in the kitchen of the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He would work there for 16 months and become the executive chef. But he decided that this kind of mass-production type of cooking was not what he liked to do and was too far away from the traditional French haute cuisine that he had been trained to do. So he moved to Chicago and for a while worked in restaurants such as the Gaslight Club, Les Champs-Elysées, and the Flying Frenchman. Later he opened Le Français, perhaps according to a French newspaper article with some financial help from his friend Pierre Orsi, an also well-known French chef from Lyon who had worked in Chicago for a while.
    Born in 1941 in Roanne, a city proud of being home to Troisgros, one of the most famous restaurants in Europe for many years, Banchet started its apprenticeship at age 13, not with the famous brothers that he knew personally but they did not have a job for him at the time, but at the more modest Terminus.
    I believe that he also had a brief stint at Troisgros. Then in 1955 he got the chance of his life: to continue his training at the famous La Pyramide, the restaurant of the legendary Fernand Point who had just died. His stint there marked his destiny as a great chef. He also developed a strong friendship with Paul Bocuse, another great chef from the Lyon area, who played a major role in the evolution of the new French cuisine, and with whom he learned a few techniques.
    Bocuse never failed, when he came to the U.S to spend some time with Jean Banchet and dine at Le Français that he listed as one of the 3 best restaurants in the U.S. the 2 others being Le Perroquet where Bocuse would also have meals while here, and Lutèce in New York.
    In fact when Banchet celebrated his 50th birthday in 1991 in Chicago, Paul Bocuse, Pierre Orsi, and André Soltner came along for a series of glorious breakfast, lunch, and dinner, prepared by Roland Liccioni and Fernand Gutierez (Ritz Carlton).

    He then worked at the Eden Roc and at the Hotel De Paris in Monte Carlo, and later was lucky to do his military service in Algeria for 28 months, not fighting, but cooking for a general. Next stage was opening a new restaurant in a big casino in London, The Sporting Club. He met his German wife Doris in London. So when this already quite experienced chef became executive chef at the Playboy Club, he was only 27 year old but had a cooking experience that many old pros could have envied.

    It is strange but I never had an opportunity to eat at Le Français when Jean Banchet, whom I have met many times since the mid-Seventies, was there. I had to wait until 1992 or 93 when the restaurant was leased to another great French chef, Roland Liccioni, and his then wife Mary Beth. I had two great dinners there but Liccioni's style, all in finesse and discrete creativity, was very different from Banchet’s almost flamboyant mastering of spectacular eating events. I am saying that based on the descriptions that many friends and colleagues who ate many times at Le Français in the seventies gave me of their experiences there. And of course from what I read in the press, the place was richly decorated and settings were extra-comfortable.

    As I said earlier success came very rapidly. But in 1975 the restaurant burned and while Banchet was waiting for the place to get rebuilt, which took a whole year, he accepted some consulting assignments with Arnie Morton and the newly opened Ritz Carlton.
    In 1989 he needed a change and after leasing Le Français to the Liccionis in August, he went down to Atlanta and opened Ciboulette in 1992 and La Riviera 4 years later.
    But eventually, when the lease was over, Banchet came back to Wheeling in 1999 and after renovating and modernizing the kitchen and the dining room reclaimed his job as owner-chef of Le Français, with the help of David Sanders. He remained at his post until his retirement in 2001, when he sold the place to restaurateur Phil Mott (North Pond café) and Chef Don Yamauchi (Gordon). The restaurant, for a while got good reviews for its more contemporary type of cuisine. Then it suffered from bad post 9-11 economic times and closed in June 2003. It was purchased and reopened in November 2003 by a former regular customer, Michael Moran, who had a trucking company.
    He called first Michael Lachowicz, and later Roland Liccioni back to manage the kitchen and try to boost a failing customer base. It worked well for a while and the ratings and reviews for the restaurant were getting back to a high level. But eventually Moran found out that he was losing money in this venture and closed the place without warning in late May of 2007.

    What will remain in culinary history books is that Jean Banchet’s Le Français was arguably one of the most impressive French restaurants ever to gain so many raves from both critics and diners outside of New York. Jean Banchet was an incredibly gifted, inspired, and demanding professional chef de cuisine who was lucky to have the perfect partner to manage the front of the house: his wife Doris.
    I heard so many stories from regular customers, as well as from other French chefs and waiters who either worked under him or had him as a friend, and I read so many articles about his creativity, his way of managing a brigade and of taking care of his favorite clients, that sometimes I wonder what part of all this is authentic and what part is mythical.
    It does not matter. All I know is that this perfectionist workhorse always had one obsession: To get the best products anywhere he could source them, and to create gastronomic fireworks out of them that no one could forget.

    During his first 10 years in Wheeling, he very often complained about the difficulty to find many typically French ingredients in the U.S marketplace, such as the fresh extra-small haricot vert, the real raw truffle or cèpe, good-textured Bresse-style poultry, good quality fresh goose liver, the perfect sea urchin, mussel or snail, French nutty butter, the right herb or spice that he needed for a specific preparation. Finding locally-produced sophisticated high quality meat, seafood, dairy products and vegetables was obviously an often frustrating task and that was the main thing that he regretted from his cooking days in France. Since he traveled often back to France he managed many times to bring back some of these special components, either in his suitcase, or hidden somewhere, or through other channels, not necessarily approved by U.S authorities.

    When he opened the restaurant his cooking was rather classic, and the prices, though not cheap, were relatively reasonable considering the quality that he offered.
    Similar dishes to those offered on his 1973 menu could have been found in any good restaurant of ‘’cuisine bourgeoise’’ in Lyon:
    Bisque de Homard $ 1.95
    Les Terrines et Pâtés $ 3.50
    Escalope de truite à l’oseille $ 8.75
    Quenelles de homards Nantua $ 8.50
    Côtes d’agneau Vert-Pré $ 11.00
    Chateaubriand Bouquetière $ 23.00
    Caneton Bigarade $ 8.50
    Soufflé Glaçé aux fraises $ 3.00
    And of course you could ask for a plateau de fromages de France

    It is after the fire that damaged the restaurant in 1975, once it was re-opened in more opulent settings, that Banchet jumped forward to a much more elaborate and creative cuisine, and to a more theatrical and luxurious way to present the food and to seduce the customers. Every dish and specials of the day were presented in beautiful porcelain plates or mini copper pots on a serving cart rolled to your table, and each preparation was explained by the waiters. The elaborate decoration on each large plate was in itself a work of art with its ribbons of sauces, reductions, jus, aspics, truffle shavings, etc.
    The somelier would help you to choose wines from what was perhaps, at the end of the seventies, one of the most expansive wine cellar in a U.S. restaurant. I was told that at one point in the early 80`s the content of that cellar was worth perhaps close to $ 800,000.00.
    Many of the ‘’signature dishes’’ of the great period from the late 70’s to the mid 80’s, are still capable to bring tears of nostalgia and gratitude to the eyes of old customers who were regulars there at the time:
    Double duck consommé Bocuse, Saucisse de Lyon en croûte aux pistaches, Mussel soup with saffran, Quenelles, Mousses of salmon, frog legs, lobster, or Saint-Jacques, Poularde de Bresse with quenelles in shrimp sauce, Foie gras d’oie, Lamb Wellington, Lobster raviolis with truffles, Rabbbit saddle, Sweetbreads Fernand Point, Endive and watercress salad with bacon, Ice cream Soufflé au grand Marnier. And all those incredibly rich and complex sauces: Champagne, Périgourdine, with tarragon.
    But in 1999, when a much thinner Banchet came back to Le Français, his style had evolved a lot. Its cooking had become much lighter, but it was still as creative and perfect as ever.
    Unfortunately some of the old customers did not like that new style it as much. A page had been turned.

    Jean Banchet who had retired with his wife in Jupiter, Florida, passed away on November 24, 2013 from pancreatic cancer.

    It is very unlikely that such a grand symbol of “haute cuisine francaise” will ever be recreated in Chicago. So let’s keep Le Français's memory alive for future generations of gastronomes.
  • Post #8 - November 25th, 2013, 12:52 pm
    Post #8 - November 25th, 2013, 12:52 pm Post #8 - November 25th, 2013, 12:52 pm
    Alain,

    Thank you for posting this elegant remembrance. Jean was one of the greats and will never be replaced. It has been a hard year for our remarkable Chicago chefs.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #9 - November 25th, 2013, 5:46 pm
    Post #9 - November 25th, 2013, 5:46 pm Post #9 - November 25th, 2013, 5:46 pm
    Link to Chicago Tribune review of Le Francais from 1977
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - November 25th, 2013, 7:37 pm
    Post #10 - November 25th, 2013, 7:37 pm Post #10 - November 25th, 2013, 7:37 pm


    I wonder if the Phil referred to in the review is Phil Vettel. :lol:
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #11 - November 25th, 2013, 11:06 pm
    Post #11 - November 25th, 2013, 11:06 pm Post #11 - November 25th, 2013, 11:06 pm
    GAF wrote:


    I wonder if the Phil referred to in the review is Phil Vettel. :lol:

    I wondered the very same thing. :)
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - November 26th, 2013, 9:01 am
    Post #12 - November 26th, 2013, 9:01 am Post #12 - November 26th, 2013, 9:01 am
    The bill for 4 was exquisite but expensive at $130. You can't get out of LTH for that price nowadays.
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #13 - November 26th, 2013, 9:08 am
    Post #13 - November 26th, 2013, 9:08 am Post #13 - November 26th, 2013, 9:08 am
    I got a kick out of the reviewer feeling it necessary to explain what chanterelles are ("very tony mushrooms"), and I just bought a package of said tony mushrooms at Costco. I guess 1977, a year I remember very well, is truly a long time ago.
  • Post #14 - November 26th, 2013, 5:45 pm
    Post #14 - November 26th, 2013, 5:45 pm Post #14 - November 26th, 2013, 5:45 pm
    Form the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/us/je ... .html?_r=0
    Jean Banchet has passed away.
    Superlatives can't begin to describe or relate dining at Le Francais.
    Our first experience was memorable,
    Cordon Rouge with a seafod puff,
    Pommard with veal in a puff pastry carved table side.
    The list could go on.
    I sat in Banchet's Ferrari Testarossa once!
    RIP.
    -Dick
  • Post #15 - November 27th, 2013, 10:19 pm
    Post #15 - November 27th, 2013, 10:19 pm Post #15 - November 27th, 2013, 10:19 pm
    This is actually hitting me a lot harder than Charlie Trotter's passing. Le Français was hugely important to me for many years, and I was a huge fan of Banchet.

    I can remember so many of the dishes I ate at Le Français. The double duck consommé, the salmon stuffed with lobster mousse and truffles and baked en croute with three sauces (almost fainted just from the fragrance when it was brought to our table), the stuffed lamb breast, sausage with pistachios, the basil ice cream, and so much more.

    There were always almost as many specials as there were items on the menu, and part of the "theater" was the introduction by the wait staff of all those specials. Everything about it was perfect and glorious and of a different age. What a glorious chef.
    Last edited by Cynthia on November 28th, 2013, 12:08 am, edited 3 times in total.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #16 - November 27th, 2013, 10:20 pm
    Post #16 - November 27th, 2013, 10:20 pm Post #16 - November 27th, 2013, 10:20 pm
    Anyone have a big kitchen and a place for a bunch of folks to gather for dinner? It occurred to me that we could ask Patrick Chabert to cook a memorial Jean Banchet/Le Français dinner for us, if we could get 20 or so people around who want to honor Banchet's memory -- and if we have a place to hold the event.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #17 - November 29th, 2013, 5:43 pm
    Post #17 - November 29th, 2013, 5:43 pm Post #17 - November 29th, 2013, 5:43 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Link to Chicago Tribune review of Le Francais from 1977


    I wonder if the Phil referred to in the review is Phil Vettel. :lol:


    I wondered the very same thing. :)


    It's possible. Vettel joined the Trib staff in 1979; he may have been a fresh-faced young intern in '77, via his alma mater, Eastern Illinois University. (He and Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo have got to be the highest profile EIU alums out there.)
  • Post #18 - November 2nd, 2015, 8:18 pm
    Post #18 - November 2nd, 2015, 8:18 pm Post #18 - November 2nd, 2015, 8:18 pm
    Fat Rice, Parachute, EL Ideas among Jean Banchet Awards nominees

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... s-nominees
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #19 - January 16th, 2017, 2:23 pm
    Post #19 - January 16th, 2017, 2:23 pm Post #19 - January 16th, 2017, 2:23 pm
    Chicago's restaurant of year, chef of year named at prestigious Jean Banchet awards

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/ct ... story.html
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #20 - November 8th, 2018, 1:16 pm
    Post #20 - November 8th, 2018, 1:16 pm Post #20 - November 8th, 2018, 1:16 pm
    Nominees for the Jean Banchet Awards, the organization that recognizes the local dining scene, are out. The picks include a number of Chicago's biggest restaurants and chefs, along with an exciting collection of neighborhood-focused establishments.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/c ... story.html
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #21 - November 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm
    Post #21 - November 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm Post #21 - November 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm
    Changing the category "Best Ethnic Restaurant" to "Best Heritage Restaurant" seems like a good move, if only because "ethnic," like "gourmet," seems a dated and somewhat loaded word.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”

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