French Sauce Terminology & Classification

Before starting this list of the classic French sauce, I would like to do a little of brief about the three men who set the standard for all Chefs: Marie Antoine Careme, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin and Georges Auguste Escoffier.

Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833) was the founder and architect of French haute cuisine. He was one of at least 25 children born to an impoverished family who put him out on the street at the age of about 10 to make his own way in the world. One day, he knocked on the door of a restaurant for a job. By the age of 21 he was chef de cuisine to Talleyrand. He also served as head chef in the kitchens of the future George IV of England, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Baron James de Rothschild. He wrote several voluminous works on cookery, which included hundreds of recipes, menus, history of French cookery, instructions for organizing kitchens, and of course, instructions for monumental architectural constructions of food for pieces montees.. He died at the age of 48, and is remembered as the “chef of kings and the king of chefs.”

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) was a lawyer, magistrate, and politician, and creator of the "Osmasome" this little part of the sauce flavour that escape into the air allow the guest to know what is cooking in the kitchen. He wrote one of the most celebrated works on food, "Physiologie du gout" (The Physiology of Taste), which was published 2 years before his death. It consists of 8 volumes and its full title is 'The Physiology of Taste, or Meditation on Transcendent Gastronomy, a Work Theoretical, Historical, and Programmed. His work does not relate of many recipes, but a lot of them have left their name in French classics culinary terms (Savarin cake, duck with orange sauce or duck Brillat-Savarin). His literary work is full of anecdotes and observations covering all aspects of the pleasures of the table. He was quite possibly the greatest food critic ever.

Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) was called "the emperor of chefs" and “emperor of the world’s kitchens” by Emperor William II of Germany. He modernized and codified the elaborate haute cuisine created by M. Antoine Careme, and developed the "brigade de cuisine" system of kitchen organization. Escoffier was chef at the Carlton Hotel in London, the Grande National Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo, the Savoy in London and the Ritz hotels in Paris and New York City. His books include "Guide culinaire" and "Ma Cuisine".
This is a list of basic French sauces is based on this classification define by Careme and revised a hundred years later by Escoffier. Most sauce of the French "Grande Cuisine" are either based or variations of these sauces. You may find it useful to have a better understanding of some dishes on the menus of restaurant serving French cuisine.
Basic Sauce: Brown or Espagnole, made with brown stock (Veal, Beef), brown roux and red wine and tomatoes

Bordelaise ( Trad: from Bordeaux): Red wine, Shallots and Veal bone marrow.
Diable (trad: Devil): White wine, Shallots, Cayenne pepper.
Lyonnaise (Trad: from Lyon): White wine, Onions.
Madeira: Madeira Wine.
Périgueux (Trad: Small town in Perigord in the south-west of France): Madeira wine, Truffles.
Piquante: White wine, Vinegar, Gherkins, Capers.
Poivrade: (Trad: Peppered): Vinegar, Peppercorn.
Red wine sauce: Red wine.
Robert: White wine, Dijon Mustard, Onions.

Basic sauce Velouté (Trad: velvety), made with white stock (veal, chicken, fish), blond roux

Allemande (Trad: German): Egg yolk, Mushroom, Cream.
White Bordelaise (Trad: from Bordeaux): White wine, Shallots.
Ravigote (Trad: Invigorated): White wine, Vinegar.
Supreme: Poultry stock, Cream, Butter.

Basic sauce: Béchamel (Named after a gastronome*), made with milk and white roux

Creme: Cream.
Mornay (Named after a family): Cheese, Egg yolks, Fish or Poultry stock.
Soubise (Named after a army commander): Onion compote.

Basic sauce: Hollandaise (From Holland): made with eggs, butter, lemon juice or vinegar

Mousseline (Light cloth): Whipped cream.
Béarnaise (From Béarn): Vinegar, Shallots, Cracked pepper, Tarragon and Chervil.
Choron (Named after its creator*): Béarnaise with tomato fondu.

Basic sauce: Mayonnaise, made with egg yolk, Dijon mustard, vegetable oil, lemon juice or vinegar
Rémoulade(Trad: twice ground): Gherkins, Capers, Mustard, Anchovy paste
Tartare: Shallots, Capers, Mustard, Gherkins, Parsley.

*Louis Bechameil (1630-1703) was 17th century financier who was chief steward of King Louis XIV's household. Supposedly Béchamel sauce was named for him by Chef Francois Pierre de la Varenne.

*Alexander Etienne Choron(1837-1924)was a French chef from Caen who created the sauce choron, which is Béarnaise sauce with tomato puree. Choron was the chef de cuisine at the famous Voisin restaurant in Paris. During the Siege of 1871 he served many animals (some from the zoo) as food, including elephant, camel, cat, wolf, and St. Bernard. (Trivia: Cesar Ritz of hotel fame was a waiter there at the time).