It’s In The Sauce
We have had a great time with our summer wine dinners these past few months. The theme “Around The World” has given me the opportunity to explore flavors of diverse regions around the world. It is exciting and challenging to create menus from such unfamiliar places as Australia and Sicily. My cooks and I enjoyed the differences in regional ingredients and preparations, but more so we are amazed at the similarities in techniques. The most important thing to understand about a professional kitchen is mastering the art of cooking techniques. As a cook you focus on becoming proficient at sauteing, braising, making sabayon, knife cuts, piping, and many others. After mastering a technique you learn that it can be applied to any situation or cuisine which creates a number of possibilities.
The evolution of French technique stemmed from the 17th and 18th century when Kings and Queens craved opulence. There have been many important chefs whom have influenced French cuisine. Carême was the chef that created what we now know as our five mother sauces:
- Valuté is a poultry sauce thickened by butter and flour.
- Espangole is a beef sauce utilizing tomato paste.
- Béchamel is a milk or dairy sauce thickened with flour and butter.
- Hollandaise is made utilizing egg yolks and clarified butter.
- Classic tomato sauce.
These make up the base point for every sauce in French cooking and much like techniques of cooking, the mother sauces are versatile.
Chef Auguste Escoffier was another very influential chef who lived in the 19th century and is responsible for the organization of kitchen hierarchy known as the Brigade System. This highly systematized chain of command was implemented in times of war to organize the massive kitchens consisting of hundreds of cooks in order to feed armies containing thousands. His system was so effective and influential that we still use elements of it today.
As my cooks and I move forward to create more and more menus for wine dinners, special events, and Chef’s Tables we always look to the past and pay tribute to the genius chefs that developed the techniques we still use today!