Relais & Châteaux hoteliers from North America meeting in Washington gave high marks to the service at the home of the new French Ambassador François Delattre. “This place is wonderful, and huge,” said Francisco Barragan, owner of Las Mananitas, a Relais & Châteaux hotel in Cuernavaca, Mexico. “The Mexican embassy is just across the street, over there,’’ he said, pointing out the embassy’s wrought iron and glass front door. “It is so little. It could be the dog house.”
Members were buzzing about the group’s vote earlier to choose New York City as the venue for next year’s UNESCO gala celebrating the United Nations’ decision to include French gastronomy as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The first gala bash is slated for April 6 at Versailles, where 60 chefs from all over the world will prepare a black tie, culinary extravaganza for 650 guests. The two American chefs tapped for the event are Manhattan’s David Humm of Eleven Madison Park and Jonathan Cartwright of White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“There hasn’t been so much talent gathered at Versailles since the 1700s,’’ said Patrick O’Connell, celebrated founder of The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, who is attending as a guest. “They don’t have a kitchen at Versailles so they are creating a temporary facility in the rooms alongside the Hall of Battles, where the dinner will be served.”
Delattre paid homage to the Relais & Chateaux brand, saying of the embassy building, “I hope we will qualify, right after the Jefferson Hotel,’’ and nodding to Connie Milstein, owner of Washington’s leading Relais & Chateaux venue. Milstein quietly confided she skipped all the other delegation events because her husband, Jehan-Christophe de La Haye Saint Hilaire, is applying for American citizenship. “He had to go out to Mount Vernon, Va., first thing this morning to be fingerprinted,’’ she said.