A Treatise on Sauces


In addition to the delicious ingredients in his sauces, you will find the blood, sweat, and tears of Jose De Brito, who posted this on his restaurant’s site:

Hello good people,

There is something that I would like to share with you, a rant maybe, or better a little treatise on sauces.

I have always attached a lot of importance to my sauces, to the point of obsession. In a kitchen where I used to work, sauces were present on the plates only in the form of dots, little strikes, commas, or colored spurts. The lack of proper saucing in this kitchen drove me crazy, so I would make a large batch of sauce and when it was my night to cook and time to sauce, I would sauce for real—and not with an espresso spoon.

The sauces should be part of a dish and not an element of decoration. Now that I am at a restaurant where I have more control, we always try to be generous—even if making the sauces is laborious and we go through them quickly…

So why do I go to all that trouble to make our five or six sauces every week and pour them on the plate like a madman? Because I want a rehabilitation of sauces.

I have always believed that French cooking resides in the quality of its products: that is the body of French cooking, but the soul pounds in the sauces. They generate emotions.

I am so sad when I am out for a nice dinner and am served a juxtaposition of ingredients: one asparagus here, a piece of lamb there, maybe a pea over there, and nothing to hold their hands, to bring coherence to the plate. A good dish for me is the marriage of different ingredients, and the bond in this marriage is the sauce.

I am so sad to see the trend of the past ten years of desertification in cooking: a slice of meat, a few shaved, uncooked vegetables, and some type of powder—and for the fine dining touch, the addition of little sprouts (again dry without dressing) placed with tweezers, surgery style (Oh non de dieux!).

An egg is an egg but give it a good hollandaise and it becomes cooking. Closer to us, what would a Big Mac be without its thousand island sauce or your french fries without their ketchup (mayo for me). A cookie becomes delicious with vanilla ice cream (a frozen sauce of creme anglaise). As long as I can remember I have fought hard to get my piece of bread to soak up the last juice of the Sunday roast, the drippings of the roasted chicken.

I will bring back the sauces, teach gourmandise to the kids. Chunks of bread will be torn to soak up the sauces. The sauceboat, this antique serving ware seen only in decades-old cookbooks, will make its return. The return of the sauceboat.

In French cooking, there are thousands of sauces, and I can make off the top of my head a few hundred—I have plenty of inspiration.

Now for your general culture, a few famous quotations:

“Without sauce, there is no salvation—there is no cuisine. Where would we be if men of the highest genius hadn’t discovered the great sauces, the minor sauces, and the special ones that have characterised the French school of cooking? No one man could have created them all in a lifetime.” Marquis de Cussy (chef of Louis XVIII)

“Sauces represent one of the most important components of cookery, it is therefore impossible to devote too much care and attention to their preparation.” Auguste Escoffier (king of chefs and chef of kings)

Bon appetit!


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