Monday, August 6, 2012
Long time no blog. Good to be back. It's been a long and strange journey these last months....
(1631 - 1671)
François Vatel was a maître d'hôtel. A title not to be taken lightly, he was solely responsible for the menu and food preparation, the waiting staff, guests, table assignments, ensuring the satisfaction of each guest and, more importantly, the satisfaction and reputation of the person throwing the fête.
In 1661, François Vatel was the maître d'hôtel, at the spectacular inauguration fête for the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was purchased by Nicolas Fouquet (see my blog), the superintendent of finances for King Louis XIV, and turned into a lavish palace and grounds. On August 17, 1661, Fouquet inaugurated his masterpiece of a château with a fête to end all fêtes. He hired Molière to perform his play Les Fâcheux for the first time (see my blog), and hired Vatel to oversee the meal.
This magnificent fête went down in history as King Louis XIV was not content to see his own palaces and lavish fêtes outdone: he arrested Fouquet the night of the fête for embezzlement, had Fouquet imprisoned for life and his wife and son exiled.
François Vatel went on to serve prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé, cousin to the king of France and a great general.
In April 1671, Louis II de Bourbon-Condé held an extravagant banquet for 2,000 people in honor of his kinsman, King Louis XIV, at the Chateau de Chantilly.
King Louis XIV The Sun King
(Love his attire and sassy attitude...too much!)
Chateau de Chantilly
(Recently visited this château and have a few juicy ghost stories to recount...stay tuned!)
At the Château de Chantilly, Vatel is credited to have invented crème Chantilly, or whipped cream flavored with vanilla.
The Marquise de Sévigné, an aristocrat remembered for her letter writing (more on her soon), tells us that, on the night of the fête, François Vatel was so distraught at the lateness of the seafood delivery that he committed suicide by running himself through with a sword. His body was discovered when someone came to announce the arrival of the seafood.
In 2000, director Roland Joffé made a film based upon the life of François Vatel, aptly named "Vatel", starring Gérard Depardieu (bien sur), Uma Thurman and Tim Roth.
Donc, voilà un petit anecdote sur Monsieur Vatel!
Groses bisous et a bientôt.