Hotel Fauchère and Christopher Bates are special to me. When I first had the idea to research restaurant butter, and sent out the first 100 emails, Christopher Bates replied before anyone else. He sent me this beautiful image of three butters on a white plate. I was thrilled! This was back in 2012. Since then, Bates has moved on, but the butter and comments are still worthy of posting.
Restaurant: Hotel Fauchère is a three-story, historic hotel dating from the 1800s that offers guests a “home away from home” experience. They are part of the Relais & Chateaux fellowship of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants.
The hotel offers fine dining in The Delmonico Room, a stylish modern brasserie named Bar Louis, and a bakery cafè called Patisserie Fauchère. Delmonic's, which opened in the 1820s, was the first restaurant in America that offered a menu and was known for the quality of its cuisine. What today is thought of as “fine dining” in the early 19th century was available only in private homes or private clubs.
Chef: Christopher Bates grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York. At 14, he started working in hotels and when he went off to a college, he specialized in Hotel Administration. His love of food and wine took him to Italy and Germany to make wine. Back in the United States, Bates worked in boutique hotels as a general manager, a sommelier, and a chef. When I contacted Hotel Fauchère back in 2012, Christopher Bates was the Executive Chef and General Manager. Along with his brother and his business partner, Bates opened Element Winery located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Bates passed his Master Sommelier exam after 12 years of study. He is now one of only 229 people worldwide to have earned the title Master Sommelier. Bates writes and teaches about wine and has had his recipes published in various books. Aside from his wine work and cooking, Christopher is equally obsessed with beer, distillates, cocktails, charcuterie and cheese making.
Butter: “In the Delmonico room we serve three butters for guests to enjoy with our three breads. First, we offer a butter that we make in house with cultured local raw cream, and we salt this butter with fleur de sel. After that we serve a variety of seasonal butters, both flavored and not. Currently we have a brown butter, which we brown heavily with extra milk solids, and then as it cools, we continue to emulsify it with a hand blender so it stays creamy. That will change to a ‘vegan butter’ in spring, which is a solid preparation of olive oil in which we take an extra virgin olive oil and texture it to have the same consistency as butter. We also have a roasted bell pepper butter which will soon change to white spruce butter for the winter and wild foraged ramp for the spring.” Christopher Bates, 2012
Commentary: “Butter is one of the last unexplored food items on home and fine dining tables alike,” says Chef Bates. “We know where our wine came from, who raised our meat and vegetables, and often have five or more olive oils representing different varietals, origins and producers. Yet next to this is often an anonymous dish of butter. In even the best restaurants, often the most attention we see is having it formed nicely and maybe seasoned with a special salt (which we know where it came from, who made it and what minerals it contains). But the butter is often still anonymous. But some are coming around. We make our own butter (plain and flavored) from raw milk with we skim the cream layer, culture and churn. It is amazing butter. And finally some of America’s best restaurants are going further. Eleven Madison Park serves an amazing cow’s milk butter, but it is their goat’s milk butter from a small dairy that really steals the show. With butter so good, who even needs bread? I ate most of that butter off the knife when no one was looking!” Christopher Bates, 2012