Haute cuisine is known for its appearance as what is considered “high-level” establishments due to its careful presentation, high price point and meticulous preparation. It is characterized by the fact that it will always have elaborate presentations and will always be served with expensive beverages such as wines and served in small sizes across several courses in one sitting. It bloomed in the 17th century as a sophisticated way of cooking that is marked by the enjoyment that comes with consuming the taste, flavour and presentation of each dish. It is a form of art that aims to provide an exquisite experience to every dining consumer.
The Rich History of Culinary Transformation – Historical Facts
Interestingly enough, up until Francois Pierre La Varenne started practising the culinary arts during the 17th century, French cuisine consisted of meals that were served in large portions. However, this traditional dining experience was turned upside down when La Varenne introduced this new style of cooking. Haute focuses on providing moderate (often considered smaller) portions of food with high quality ingredients served with luxuriant designs in mind.
After the French Revolution, 1789-1799, Marie-Antoine Careme adopted the idea of haute cuisine but specialized in making rich and extravagant mother sauces rather than exquisite whole dishes. His signature sauces, those being the bechamel, espagnole, veloute and allemande were often served to the wealthy since he catered as a private chef. He is considered to be the founder of French gastronomy, is known for his elaborate centrepieces and produced hundreds of sauces throughout his career. His sauces set the ground stage for Auguste Escoffier.
Auguste Escoffier went on to modernize the culinary practices of those who came before him in order to make the dish preparation more efficient during the 20th century. This included the system that we now know as preparation tables or station areas within the kitchen. This “brigade” system was used in order to keep the chefs at their own cooking areas so that the dishes could be prepared in an efficient manner. He is known as the master of cooking who authored over 5,000 recipes which were put into eight books. He was a forward thinker in that he supported local agriculture and only used food that was in season.
Popular Recipes in Haute Cuisine
There are plenty of hearty and heavy French foods, but here are two popular dishes that are associated with haute cuisine via the legendary Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch:
• Saint Honore: this is a dessert pastry that has a crisp butter filled pastry crust with vanilla bean creme patisserie on top. In addition to the creme patisserie, there are three choux balls that are dipped in toffee and filled with creme patisserie and toffee. Check out the recipe here.
• Foie Gras Au Torchon: is a delicacy that is made out of the liver of ducks (or geese), pepper, sugar and kosher salt. Sodium nitrate, milk and cognac or sauternes are optional ingredients. It is traditionally wrapped in a dish towel and placed in the fridge after preparation, however cheese cloth is now used. Check out a recipe here.
Although haute cuisine is considered “high-cooking” of exquisite meals, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t kid friendly recipes out there or other haute cuisine options to choose from. A lot of the recipes that you can find are relatively simple to create. If you go with the traditional French cooking route, the dishes will be more complicated but will provide a unique and fine-dining experience.