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Jean Deillon’s Steward’s Feast

It is not generally known that when a Liveryman of the Distillers’ Company is appointed as a Steward, tradition dictates that they are invited to consider entertaining the Master, Wardens and Court of the Company with a celebratory feast upon their appointment. Liveryman – and now Steward – Jean Deillon was particularly keen to invoke this ancient privilege, but was initially thwarted by Covid and the subsequent lockdowns. However, with Livery life having returned to normality, he was able to realise his dream by entertaining 30 guests in Guildhall’s Members’ Private Dining Room overlooking its historic courtyard on Friday 3 March.

The table was ready for Jean’s personally crafted menu and wine selection, which remained secret until his guests sat down to have the scene set by the following customised Grace:

The invite said from Deillon de La France
Come dine with the Court - who enjoy excellence
There's five courses to eat - all gastronomique
So enjoy this occasion - Tis quite unique

From Billingsgates best to sloe gin sorbet
Your tummy is primed for the main of the day
Beef Rossini it is with Mousquetaire to follow
Then Distilled dessert to ensure you're not hollow.

With Maison Latour well matched with the food
The Haut Gros Bonnet is exceptionally shrewd
But don’t hold your breath or leave by the door
Before Switzerland’s finest Polymnie Seduction Or.

With the scene well set and our appetites whet
We need to sit down and see what's beset
So thank you good Lord, now please bring it on
To ensure we enjoy the kindness of our Steward Jean

Amen

The words on the menu below do not do justice to the extravaganza of cuisine reflecting Jean’s background in a dynasty of chefs from the Ardennes and his subsequent years of experience delighting diners in both France and the City of London.

Menu

Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
Haymans gin and tonic

At the Reception

Bucket of Billingsgate Fishmonger Market Catch, Toasted Brioche
St Veran, Les Deux Moulins 2020, Maison Latour

Sloe Gin Sorbet

Lancashire Grass Fed Beef Rossini, Madeira Sauce
Chateau du Pavillon Haut-Gros-Bonnet 1997, Canon-Fronsac, France

The Mousquetaire Devil on Horseback & Scrambled Clarence Court Traditional Leghorn Whites Egg

The Blended Pallet of Distilled Company Dessert
Polymnie Seduction Or 2011, Domaine des Muses, Switzerland Valais

Fair Trade Rich Roast Coffee, Tregothnan Cornish Estate Grown Tea, Whisky Chocolate Truffles
Master’s Cask Bas-Armagnac, Chateau de Laubade, Taylor’s 20 year old Tawny

Jean’s choice of Switzerland’s Polymnie Seduction Or 2010 paid homage to the Company’s Founder, Sir Theodore de Mayerne, who was born in Geneva, but in addition to proving a superb complement to the wonderful dessert above, its existence stretched even the knowledge of those with 50 years in the trade.

After the Master had proposed the toasts to the King and the mayoralty in port, Jean unexpectedly leapt to his feet and proposed a toast to the President of France in Armangac, to the delight of all – and earned a robust impromptu rendering of the French national anthem in return.

“The meal itself was quite exceptional and the food and wine pairings were sublime.
I don’t think I have ever experienced quite such exquisite fare at any other formal or semi-formal function in the City or indeed elsewhere. The combination of such spectacular surroundings and genial company made for an unforgettable occasion.”

Jean then rose to welcome his guests – explaining that, in his wildest dreams, he never thought he would be entertaining the Court of the Worshipful Company of Distillers when he first stepped foot into the City of London in his day job at The Cook and The Butler in 2004.

Then, on behalf of his guests, the Master gave Jean a bilingual vote of thanks for a memorable evening of excellence, which was rewarded with a bottle of Master’s Cask Bas-Armagnac and a quaich suitably engraved to mark Jean’s resurrection of this ancient and most enjoyable tradition.

David Raines
Past Master