History

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It was in the year 1248, under Saint Louis, King of France, that the Royal Guild of Oyers Rotisseurs was established. Limited at first to “masters” in the art of roasting geese, the object of the guild was to perpetuate the standards of quality befitting the Royal table. Soon the craft of “Rotisseurs” encompassed the preparation of all the various meats and fowls destined to the spit or rack, and the activities of the Guild, always under Royal patronage, enlarged to include the development of an apprentice program, wage and work standards, and conferment of appropriate honors.

In 1509, the official Coat of Arms was awarded to the Guild by King Louis XII by Royal proclamation. The arms consist of two crossed turning spits and four larding needles, surrounded by flames of the hearth on a shield encircled by fleur-de-lis and a chain representing the mechanism used to turn the spit. The outer chain along with the legend was added in 1950 to represent the bond which unites the members of our society. The increasingly wealthy monopoly continued until 1776, when Louis XVI declared freedom of work laws in an effort to forestall the French Revolution. As his efforts were in vain, in 1791, the Chaine was disbanded.

Gastronomically speaking, 160 years passed until three amateurs and two professionals met in Paris in 1950 with a common goal- to restore the pride in culinary excellence lost during a period of wartime shortages. La Chaine des Rotisseurs was reincorporated and the Coat of Arms of the ancient guild was restored by the French Government to which the year of incorporation of the modern Chaine, 1950, was added. Among the founders were Jean Valby, Grand Chancelier, and Curnonsky, the justly renowned “Prince of Gastronomes”.

Today, the society has members in more than 70 countries around the world. In the U.S., there are nearly 150 bailliages (English “bailiwick”) headed by a bailli (“bailiff”) and other officers who plan the individual chapter’s activities. The U.S. society is governed by a national Board of Directors and a National Council which, in general, follow the programs and policies set forth by the international society headquartered in Paris.