François Vatel

French chef (1631-1671)

François Vatel (French pronunciation: ​[fʁɑ̃swa vatɛl]) (1631 – 24 April 1671) was the majordomo (in French, maître d'hôtel) of Nicolas Fouquet and prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé.


Life change

Vatel was born either in Switzerland or in Paris in 1625, 1631, or 1635. Many people credit him with creating crème Chantilly (Chantilly cream), but this is wrong. There is no documentation of this which appeared during his lifetime, and the whipped, flavored cream was known at least a century earlier.

Vatel served Louis XIV's superintendent Nicolas Fouquet in the inauguration fête at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte that took place on 17 August 1661.

Vatel was responsible for organizing a banquet for 2.000 people, in honor of Louis XIV. The banquet took place in April 1671 at the Château de Chantilly. Madame de Sévigné wrote in a letter, that Vatel was very upset, because the seafood he had ordered, did not arrive on time. Because of this, and other small problems, he committed suicide by running himself through with his sword; his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish.

This incident is thought to be the origin of the idiom "died for want of lobster sauce", a phrase meaning to die or be devastated due to a minor disappointment or mishap.[1]

Popular culture change

In 2000, Roland Joffé made a movie about Vatel. In it, Gérard Depardieu plays Vatel. According to the movie, Vatel committed suicide when he realized he was nothing more than property in the eyes of the nobility, his social superiors.

References change

  1. "Brewer, E. Cobham. Dictionary of Phrase & Fable. Lobster Sauce". Retrieved 2021-06-05.

Further reading change

  • Dominique Michel 1999.Vatel ou la naissance de la gastronomie (Editions Fayard)
  • Patrick Rambourg 1999. Recettes du Grand Siècle (Editions Fayard)
  • Mathilde Mottoule 2006. Vatel ou l'origine d'un mythe.