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Apr 7, 2004 04:47 PM

Educate me- 5 French Mother Sauces?

  • k

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. ;)

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  1. maybe...

    bearnaise, bordelaise, beurre blanc


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

      1. Bechamel

        Some sources replace vinaigrette w/ tomato sauce.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Shmingrid

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


          1. re: Kevin

            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


            1. re: Kevin

              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

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


              5 Replies
              1. re: GretchenS

                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

                  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

                    what DanaB said, exactly

                2. re: GretchenS

                  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

                    What's sauce for the goose?

                3. 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.