It's no secret that New England Culinary Institute executive chef Jean-Louis Gerin is a master of his craft. And he's not the school's only one. Andre Burnier, NECI chef-instructor since 1990, is about to become the fourth instructor inducted into the exclusive society of French-born Maîtres Cuisiniers de France. It's a distinction for the school that Gerin says he believes is unique in the United States.
Next month in Las Vegas, at the Maîtres Cuisiniers' first general assembly in the United States, Burnier will join Gerin, founding chef Michel LeBorgne and NECI president Fran Voigt — an honorary member — in holding the title. Both Gerin and LeBorgne have also been awarded the Maîtres Cuisiniers' Toque d'Or, the group's annual honor for best chef.
To celebrate, NECI will hold a monthly series of dinners prepared by visiting Maîtres Cuisiniers, beginning with a special meal created by Burnier on March 15. On April 12, Olivier de Saint Martin of Philadelphia's Caribou Café and Zinc Bistro à Vins will participate in a cook-off with Gerin. Both are not only Maîtres Cuisiniers but also champions of the Food Network competition show "Chopped."
On May 24, Serge Devesa, chef at the InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel, will share his recipe for bouillabaisse in the style of his native Marseille.
In June, NECI will boast another coup on a national scale. Gerin has persuaded Paris-based sous-vide pioneer Bruno Goussault to teach a Culinary Research & Education Academy certification course in the low-temperature water-bath cooking method.
While Gerin himself will teach an introductory sous-vide class at NECI, Goussault's will be for professional chefs only — one of just four sous-vide certification programs offered in the United States this year. "It's a huge honor for Vermont to have Dr. Goussault on our side," says Gerin.