Understanding French Sauces (Part Two)

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Celebrity chefs seem to be everywhere today.  If you are a foodie, you can probably name a handful off the top of your head.  They have their own TV shows, books, and websites.  Entire networks are built upon the idea of bringing you the next celebrity chef.  Reality shows feature aspiring chefs competing to be the best. Each of these chefs owes a debt of gratitude to the founder of modern cuisine, Auguste Escoffier.

Auguste Escoffier

Even today no chef has contributed more to modern cuisine than Escoffier.  In his day he was called “The Emperor of Chefs.”  He is responsible for more than 10,000 recipes.  He took the work of Careme and updated it into a framework still used today.  He designed the “Brigade de cuisine” which serves as the model for all modern kitchens.  He worked at restaurants with names that are familiar to most people a century later.  Escoffier did not invent cooking, but no one before or since has had a greater impact on what we eat.

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Understanding French Sauces (Part One)

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Looking back over the years, I would have to say my favorite serving job was at a little French restaurant in Springfield, MO called Le Mirabelle.  Christian Finance was a classically trained French Chef and his wife Bobbi ran the front of the house.  The food was incredible and it was arguably the best restaurant in Springfield, MO.  It also was Brad Pitt’s favorite restaurant in his hometown.  I attribute so much of the respect I have for this business to them and their headwaiter, Jim.  It represented so much of what was right about this business in my mind.  To this day when I take a shortcut I sometimes get a chill expecting to see Christian or Jim with their arms crossed giving me a disapproving stare from across the room.

One day Chef asked me in his French accent (which after two decades of living here I always suspected was artificially strong) a simple question.  He asked if I knew why the French smothered their food in sauce.  I admitted to both my lack of knowledge and curiosity.  He explained France has a long history of being a battlefield.  During wars high quality meat is hard to find.  This led the French to come up with thick powerful sauces to cover up the flavor of the low quality meat.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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