I recently had the pleasure of attending a private luncheon for the Consul General of France, Mr. Vincent Floreani. The event was part of À la carte Chicago, a celebration of contemporary French cuisine and culture. Fifteen guests gathered at Chez Moi in Lincoln Park to experience a four-course menu prepared by Executive Chef Dominique Tougne, featuring some of the Consul General’s favorite dishes. Before each course was served, Consul General Floreani introduced them, explaining what makes each dish special, and why they hold meaning for him.
Porcini and Foie Gras Risotto with Red Wine Sauce
Wine: Chateau Loronde Desormes, Bordeaux Superior ’10
Consul General Vincent Floreani is part Italian and part French, and so he has a great love of risotto, which was one of his favorites as a child. What makes a good risotto is a very careful cooking that leaves just a slight crunch in the rice, to contrast with the creamy texture. Chef Dominique’s risotto was perfectly cooked, demonstrating the ideal combination of textures.
Pan Seared Maine Scallops, Ratatouille, Safran Beurre Blanc
Wine: Triennes, Viognier Sante Fleure ’13 (Daniel Boulud’s Sommelier recommended)
In France, scallops are often served on special occasions, these lovelies came from Maine where the season runs from October to May. Ratatouille is a classic stew of rustic vegetables, a dish that reminds the Consul General of his childhood, a dish he grew up eating, and which even today is very popular among French children.
Classic French Camembert, Baguette
Wine: Francois Montand, Brut Rose, NV
Camembert cheese, which comes from Normandy, was given to French soldiers along with a baguette as a daily ration, and was all that sustained them during battles along with a daily ration of wine. In France today, nearly 320 baguettes are consumed every second.
Vanilla Crème Brûlée
Wine: Chateau Haut Charmes, Sauternes ’10
Though the French, the Spanish, and the British each claim to have invented this delectably creamy dessert, the French enjoy it the most. As it is found on nearly every menu in France, it must therefore truly be a French invention. The classic crunchy layer of caramelized sugar is difficult to achieve properly, but the secret to a perfectly glass-like consistency is to use brown sugar instead of white sugar; the hint of molasses improves melting and lends deep, rich flavor.
Not only was the meal spectacular, but in addition to dining alonside the Consul General I enjoyed the company of a table full of native French speakers. Though I couldn’t follow the entire conversation, for my sake they very graciously spoke mostly in English. The feeling was very familiar and if only for a few hours, I felt like I was back in Europe.
Consul General of France in Chicago Mr. Vincent Floreani
Vincent Floreani became Consul General of France in Chicago with jurisdiction for the 13 midwestern states on August 23, 2014. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Floreani was Deputy Spokesman and Deputy Director of Communications and Press at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and assistant director of the press since 2011.
Vincent Floreani is an alumnus of l’Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA). Upon graduating from the ENA in 1999 he was assigned to the United Nations and international organizations Division, Sub-Department of Political Affairs in Paris. His responsibilities included Iraq, Libya, and reform of the Security Council.
From 2002 to 2005, as an expert in the Security Council, Vincent Floreani served as First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York.
He became Head of the Press and Communication Office at the French Embassy in London in 2005, and in 2007 served in the British Department for International Development as exchange diplomat.
From 2008 to 2011, he was Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of France in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).
Earlier in his career, he served in Romania, Indonesia, Kenya and Uganda.
Vincent Floreani is married and has three sons.