Canard de Papa at the Tour d’Argent by Norbert Bierbaum-Hillejan, Thomas Bittner, Mario Fabri, Peter de Haydu, William Thomas

This INSEAD study group had been invited to dinner in Paris by Norbert Bierbaum, Hillejan’s father, to celebrate their – or rather Mario Fabri’s – splendid performance on the statistics project. Their spirits flying, they chose nothing less than the Tour d’Argent.

This establishment, founded in 1582,  a Michelin three-star restaurant in 1975, was justifiably famous for its special duck dish, whose recipe dates back to 1890,  and its wine cellar with almost half a million bottles and 15,000 references to some of the finest wines in the world.  Of course the splendid décor of the restaurant, gold and silver, persian carpets, art works and the glorious view over the medieval city matched its prices.

However, Norbert’s father’s guests were not intimidated because they had no fear of the bill and entered the sacred rooms in their casual student garb, taking their seats with much noisy chaffing and joking and causing heads to turn. After ordering the famous duck, sponsored by papa, “canard de papa” in this case, Peter de Haydu stunned the ceremonious sommelier by ordering “Vin de Papa”, the cheap house wine at the INSEAD canteen. His order was quickly revealed as an insider joke as roaring laughter broke out at the table, and the sommelier dryly asked Peter to identify the wine in the legendary wine list. And so Peter had to withdraw his order and another wine was served, unquestionably superior to the Vin de Papa in taste and considerable superior in price. But nobody cared.

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