This is Germaine Chandelier at the February meeting of our Garden club which co-incided with Germaine’s 92nd birthday.
Germaine is a fascinating person as can been seen from this extract from the Alsace-New York Newsletter, Spring 2007 celebrating Germaine’s induction as ‘Chevalier dans l’Ordre du Merite’:
Germain Schneider-Chandelier was born on the 22nd of February 1922, at Leutenheim, Alsace, in the Lowe rRhine, the older daughter of a family of six children, 5 daughters and a son. Her childhood and her adolescence have been marked by the hardship of World War II since as many Alsations, here family had to leave Alsace and take refuge in their particular case, near Limoges in the Center of France.
1945, back to Alsace: a new life is starting. One day, when some of the father’s friends participate in a hunting party on his land, Germain is offered a position as governess of the three children of the Minister Plenipotentiary Arnaud Wapler. For the record it is said that one day, as she was filling in for the cook, Germaine offered to bake a dessert: “A chocolate charlotte”: a cake which changed her destiny. This same year 1954, together with a group of 20 people, Germaine abord the ‘Indochine’ crossed the Atlantic. After 12 days, she landed in Boston when she started to work for the Consul General Mr. Chambon.
1954: beginning as a Professional Caterer: Germaine makes the decision of living in New York City. With an early established professional experience, Germaine is self-employed. First she works from home, as a caterer for individuals and families from whom she organizes weeding, luncheons, dinners, cocktail parties…Later she works for big companies such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Hermes. She is now “The Caterer” of New York high society.
1962: Germain meets Marcel Chandelier. This event will change their life together. Marcel Chandelier, who came over in 1958 is “Maitre Cuisinier de France”. Together they join their talents and create “La Maison Germaine”. Marcel and Germaine officially open “Germaine Catering” a great ultra-professional kitchen, located at 39-09 33rd street, Long Island City, Queens.
1964: A great new York wedding”: This time, it is the wedding of Germaine Schneider and Marcel Chandelier. The union of a same passion for excellence, which made of Germaine Catering a name synonymous of the French quality and know-how.
Even after Marcel Chandelier’s passing, Germaine will continue to work with the diplomatic community in New York City, the great political personalities: Golda Meir, the Kennedy family, Jacqueline Kennedy, Hilary Clinton, for the release of her book, the American Ballet Theater, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Botanical Garden.
The New York Daily News referred to her in June 1979 as the “Most legendary caterer in New York”.
Germaine is a remarkable person. She’s still incredibly sharp and physically active and could easily pass for someone 20 or even 30 years younger. At last week’s garden club meeting she came down a series of very steep steps better than many of her juniors. She also says what she thinks, which can be quite a shock until you get to know her. At first I was afraid to bring anything I had prepared to the garden club meeting if she was going to be there, but I eventually did and even got a few positive comments – high praise indeed. She’s offered to teach me some cooking techniques.
Happy Birthday Germaine and may you have many more of them!