Bailliage de Naples
SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT
by Thelma Negley
Vice Chargée de Presse
The Year of The Rooster was celebrated by Chaîne members and their guests at Charlie Chang’s restaurant on January 9. But this was not your usual Chinese meal.
Christiana Chiang, CEO of the well-known, multi-restaurant organization, is a veteran creator of Presidential Chinese banquets and such stellar receptions as those for the China Trust Bank and the Smithsonian. When she heard one of her restaurants would be hosting the Chaîne, she decided to travel from Washington, D.C. to Naples with her Executive Chef Chongfan Huang to personally select and oversee the creation and preparation of the banquet.
She closed the Naples restaurant for the day to allow Bailli Roger Weatherburn-Baker and SE Conseiller Gastronomique Provincial Hon. Lacey King, to spend the day transforming her restaurant with layers of festive red and yellow lanterns hanging from the ceiling, six-foot long fire-breathing dragons on the walls and bright red tablecloths, gold, fan-shaped napkins and silk wrapped chopsticks on the tables. Traditional little red envelopes were at each member’s place setting containing a Chaîne commemorative pin.
Adding to the festive mood, many of our Chaîne Dames arrived dressed for the evening in colorful cheongsams, and all were very graciously welcomed by Mrs. Chiang also wearing a traditional costume, but one of her own design.
Following a reception and hors d’oeuvres, our Bailli formally introduced our hostess who told us about the Chinese New Years of her childhood in Taiwan. There were fireworks, of course, she would be given new shoes and a new dress, and she and her young friends would go door-to-door visiting neighbors, hoping to receive little red envelopes and other gifts. She explained it’s a two-week holiday in China to allow time for relatives to cover sometimes-vast distances to get home for the holiday. A traditional meal, she said, must contain food from the air, land and sea.
Sure enough, throughout dinner small plates kept arriving with creative preparations of fish, duck, shrimp, beef, and all sorts of Chinese vegetables.
A boisterous group very much enjoyed this traditional cultural experience and enthusiastically applauded when their Bailli presented Mrs. Chiang with a commemorative Chaîne plaque and her chef with a Chaine-logo engraved knife in a beautiful wooden presentation box.