Kitchen Wizards: Francois Vatel

Because of him, Louis XIV planted Minister Fouquet to the Bastille: Vatel made too good a reception for his master, which struck even the monarch. Because of him, Versailles was built - the “sun king” wanted to surpass his minister, whose life, as established by Vatel, was better than him. And because of himself, his ideas about the duty and honor of the real butler, Vatel was forced to commit suicide. In order to start a new life after his death.

If you watched the 2000 film with Gerard Depardieu in the lead role, then you know the story of this unusual person. Although neither the best organizer of banquets in the history of mankind looked like, from what and how he really died - even historians do not know. There are several versions to date. According to the official, Francois Vatel was the son of the farmer Pierre Vatel and Michel Claudel, who were married on March 13, 1624 in Picardy. According to another, he was born in Paris to the family of roofer Francois Vatel and his wife, Jacket Langrois. Francois was baptized on June 14, 1631, pastor Jehan Everard became his godfather.


At the age of 8, the boy entered into an apprenticeship to his godfather. Probably, under his strict guidance, he made his first steps in the culinary field. He started Vatel as a “Ublière” (the so-called little peddlers who sold waffle pipes on the streets), but later showed an extraordinary talent for organizing and managing large estates (the duties of a butler were much wider than the management of servants).

Neither the birthplace of Vatel, nor the names of his parents are known for certain.

How Vatel, at 22, turned out to be a head waiter and chief cook at the Superintendent of Finance of France, Nicolas Fouquet, a mystery covered in darkness. They say he offered the famous esthete and epicurean Fouquet some completely unusual way of serving and changing dishes, after which he, without hesitation, made him his confidant. How could this happen, and the boy baker found himself in one of the richest palaces in Europe, Vaux-le-Vicomte, a mystery. But the fact remains that Vatel, thanks to Fouquet, became the most famous cook and butler in France, whose services were often used on a “lease” basis by Cardinal Mazarin and the country's de facto Prime Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

French Finance Superintendent Nicolas Fouquet

Fouquet loved to live on a grand scale and spent government money for fun. But in 1661 the superintendent was arrested and brought to justice - for his too luxurious receptions, for great wealth, and most importantly - for financial fraud and the desire for power. He did not go free.

Together with Fuke, most of his servants and proxies went to prisons of lesser degree of importance. But not Vatel. He managed to escape, get to England, work there for some time, return to Europe, not find work in Belgium, and suddenly find himself at work at the Prince de Conde. Butler.

At 22, Francois Vatel became the butler and chief cook of Nicolas Fouquet.

The great Conde was a talented commander, but a worthless diplomat. This played a bad role in his fate. Being on the side of the cardinal, the prince once turned to the side of the Fronda, for which he paid. He was forgotten by the king for a long 8 years. Subsequently, taking into account the military merits of Condé, the “sun king” released part of his sins to his relative, giving him another chance to win triumphantly to the glory of the crown, but the time for the final rehabilitation of Louis II de Bourbon-Condé struck only in 1671.

In early April, His Majesty announced that he would give the Prince a three-day visit to his estate Chantilly, in recognition of his military merit. For Conde, it was a chance to rehabilitate himself in front of Louis XIV.

Louis II de Bourbon-Conde, Prince de Conde

Francois Vatel, knowing full well what significance the upcoming celebration has for the prince, began to develop a script for the celebration. However, from the very beginning everything went wrong. Despite the fact that Vatel began to prepare for the king's arrival in 10 days, in fact it turned out that there were a lot more guests than expected - almost 3,000 people. He seemed to have calculated everything: arrival and meeting, subsequent hunting, entertainment for the ladies, theatrical performances, ballet, evening fireworks, table arrangement, called upon the best musicians and dancers, ran with papers, sent messengers to buy the best products throughout the country, food and wine I even ordered a plus, made endless estimates, and slept for an hour a day, or even kept awake all day. Everything was checked thousands of times - from ropes on curtains to forage for horses - but nothing stuck. Hot on the last, 25th in a row and "significance", the table was not enough, "for there were many uninvited eaters at the tables." This, of course, did not mean that the guests were left hungry. After all, without the planned roast, there was enough change of dishes. However, Vatel was seriously upset.

The reception of Louis XIV cost the prince de Conde 50 thousand ECU

In addition, the holiday was spoiled by the interference of the weather: the sky was suddenly overcast with clouds, because of which the fireworks planned after dinner were spoiled. Vatel, who was in a state of extreme overwork, had a bad feeling about him. After sleeping a few hours after dinner, at 4 o'clock in the morning he made the first round of the kitchen rooms in order to harmonize the breakfast and lunch menus. On the second day of the celebrations, namely on Friday, April 24, a fast day fell out, and therefore a large meal without fish was simply unacceptable. A little later, closer to 8 am, he was told the news, which, in fact, broke his already weakened psyche during preparation for the holiday. The news was that only two fresh fish supplies arrived in the castle instead of the planned four. Considering himself guilty of the situation, that the fish order was not received, which means that the quality of the festive dinner would be broken, Vatel decided to commit suicide. In desperation, he exclaimed: “It's a shame, I can't bear it!” - and retired to his room. Making an emphasis on the sword on the door of the room, he threw himself at her breast. And the fish began to arrive right there, from different ports ...

Estimated portrait of Francois Vatel

Prince de Conde ordered to secretly remove Vatel’s body from the castle and bury it somewhere, so as not to spoil the holiday. Based on the calculations and records left by Vatel, quartermaster Condé, Baron Gurville, coped with everything.

The name Francois Vatel in France is a symbol of excellence.

Years passed, but the name of Vatel was not forgotten. From time to time disputes arose about the death of this talented and extraordinary man. In the XIX century a romantic version appeared - a beautiful love story. In 1854, Louis Lurin, who wrote under the pseudonym of Louis Burgo, published The True Death Story of Vatel. Allegedly, the butler had an affair with a young woman who turned out to be the Queen's maid of honor, Madame de Ventadour. When it turns out, they part, and Vatel kills himself. The whole story - just a fantasy writer. Nevertheless, the suicide of the head waiter is suspicious if only because he had once served Mr. Fuke. Maybe he was killed to hide some secret of the former owner? Riddle ...

The author - Anna Zarubina

Watch the video: 10+ Kitchen Wizards Who Dont Believe in Using Cookbooks (December 2019).