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Educate me- 5 French Mother Sauces?

Kevin Apr 7, 2004 04:47 PM

Went to fill out an application at a (just so-so) restaurant for some extra cash and was handed a 5-page packet to fill out. Amongst other things, I was asked to name 2 of the 5 French Mother Sauces. It's obviously too late now, but for future reference.... just wondering. Thanks in advance.

ps I guessed hollandaise as my only one. I don't even know enough to question if that's laughable or not. Feel free to point and laugh if so. ;)

  1. f
    Fatemeh Apr 7, 2004 04:48 PM


    bearnaise, bordelaise, beurre blanc


    1. f
      FlyFish Apr 7, 2004 04:52 PM

      Not sure, but I think bechamel and veloute would be two of them.

      1. s
        Shmingrid Apr 7, 2004 04:54 PM


        Some sources replace vinaigrette w/ tomato sauce.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Shmingrid
          Kevin Apr 7, 2004 04:56 PM

          Wow, quick responses- care to share what each are exactly? (I know vinaigrette & hollandaise)


          1. re: Kevin
            enrevanche Apr 7, 2004 05:00 PM

            Do a Google search for "five mother sauces," and you'll be practically paralyzed with information, including recipes.

            One good source can be found here:


            - er

            Link: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histor...

            1. re: Kevin
              bryan Apr 7, 2004 05:17 PM

              Bechamel (white sauce): Made with flour, butter and milk.

              Veloute: same as bechamel but substitute stock for milk.

              Espangole (brown sauce): butter (or drippings), carmalized veggies, beef or veal stock, flour, tomatoes.

              You already know hollandaise and mayonaisse.

              Vinaigrette: not so much as a sauce but an emulsion. Oil and vinegar, other ingredients such as mustard, whipped up and used as salad dressing, marinades, etc.

              Hope this helps you.

            2. re: Shmingrid
              The Rogue Apr 7, 2004 10:40 PM

              I was taught at the French Culinary Institute that the five French Mother sauces are:

              Bechamel-Milk based sauces- butter, flour, milk, cayenne, nutmeg.

              Veloute- White stock based sauces: veal or chicken stock and flour.

              Espagnole- Brown stock based sauces: veal stock, flour, butter, mirepoix, lardons, tomato.

              Allemande- egg enriched veloute

              But that Tomate has replaced Allemande

              Tomate- white veal or chicken stock, butter, flour, tomato, bouquet garni, mirepoix.

              And Emulsified sauces have been included:
              Hollandaise/Mayonaisse- butter, egg yolk, lemon, spice.

              Each of these Mother sauces has derivitives/variations, there are about seven to eight basic derivations/variations, (groups of ingreients). So depending upon the Mother sauce and the derivation there are then about 40+ French sauces.

            3. g
              GretchenS Apr 7, 2004 05:00 PM

              Here's a link that is fairly educational. I think it was a very pretentious question to ask on an application!

              Link: http://www.cooksrecipes.com/tips/moth...

              5 Replies
              1. re: GretchenS
                Evil Ronnie Apr 7, 2004 08:20 PM

                Would you prefer that applicants for kitchen jobs had no idea whatsoever of the mother sauces? It's a great interview question. I've used it for years.

                1. re: Evil Ronnie
                  DanaB Apr 7, 2004 08:42 PM

                  Interesting! Well, I for one have been making all 5 of the "mother" sauces and variants thereof for years, and had never until today heard the term "mother sauces." I learned to prepare french food from Julia Child's books, and don't recall the phrase being used therein. If you'd asked me what the most common sauces were in french cooking, or the base sauces in french cooking, I would have been able to give you an accurate response, but "mother sauces" was not a phrase I was previously familiar with. That's why I love chowhound. I can honestly say I "learn something new every day."

                  1. re: DanaB
                    GretchenS Apr 8, 2004 03:03 PM

                    what DanaB said, exactly

                2. re: GretchenS
                  Jo Apr 8, 2004 09:55 AM

                  Perhaps the restaurant is interested in hiring only professionally trained chefs. In that case the question seems very reasonable. But in the end the proof really is in the pudding (or sauce) isn't it?

                  1. re: Jo
                    Jim H. Apr 8, 2004 12:37 PM

                    What's sauce for the goose?

                3. d
                  D Apr 7, 2004 05:03 PM

                  This issue has gained notoriety in recent months as it is a question in a popular board game "Battle of the Sexes". The question is in the "Female" stack of cards, meaning the men are asked the question (implying it's common knowledge to women). It's probably the hardest question in the game.

                  1. j
                    Jim H. Apr 7, 2004 09:26 PM

                    I don't know who decides which are the "mother sauces". There are basic white and brown sauces, and some we might call red. If you are really interested in sauces, go to Larousse Gastronomique and read about 100 or so French sauces. It is mind-boggling. If I were answering, I would say bechamel is a "mother" and veloute, supreme, etc the children. But what about plain white sauce (beurre blanc), what is it?

                    1. c
                      CIAChef Apr 9, 2004 07:39 PM

                      AAARRGGGHHHHH!!!!! And you call yourselves CHOW HOUNDS!!

                      Auguste Escoffier, (long after Larusse) the father of contemporary cooking decided on many things as organizational tools in the development of the professional restaurant. Amongst the many concepts he developed and instituted and that are adhered to today in almost all restaurants where food is made from scratch, is the concept of a language of cooking. This would ensure that all culinary professionals could speak of a sauce and understand its make-up, or a specific knife cut (brunoise, for example), or stock, or cooking vessel, or service style, or menu, etc..... One of these "rules" is the Five Mother Sauces." Vinaigrette is NOT a Mother Sauce.

                      They are:

                      He then went on to say that these basics could be enhanced, specifically, to make thousands of other sauces.

                      His life, and history are well respected and worthwhile reading. Sounds to me like a responsible question to be asked of someone who is making application to good restaurant.

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