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Just desserts: Creme of Boston business gets brulee

Erin Ailworth/Globe Staff

After a brief brouhaha, the brulee is back.

As the creme of Boston’s business world filed beyond the salmon-, salad-, and fruit-bedecked buffet tables set out for Thursday’s gathering of the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club luncheon at the Boston Harbor Hotel, more than a few zeroed in on the place settings — or more specifically, the dessert offering. There, amid the water glasses and the cutlery, they found satisfaction: a familiar ramekin of carmelized custard topped with a strawberry half.

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The creamy confection made its return to the dessert course following a short-lived replacement by chocolate mousse cake while luncheon organizers experimented with their format, replacing the usual buffet with a plated chicken entree.

But CEOs citywide grumbled over the menu change. And everyone knows bosses should never be left unhappy.

So on Thursday, spoons once again clinked against dessert dishes as executives broke the crusty tops of their much-loved brulee. Even the day’s speaker, National Grid chief executive Steve J. Holliday, made note of the sweet.

“I saw in the newspapers this great excitement about this club. But it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about energy, it was about the lunch menu,” Holliday told a chuckling audience.

“And as I understand there’s been a bit of change back to the old ways.”

The lesson: even in a business community that prides itself on innovation, there are some traditions you just don’t mess with.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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