Vatel's almost perfect dinner in Chantilly

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Chantilly at Condé's time - ©Internet Archive Book Images / Public domain Chantilly at Condé's time - ©Internet Archive Book Images / Public domain
Chantilly castle Castle Festivities Louis XIV

A party for the king

The famous chef Vatel in Chantilly! The Grand Condé, the castle’s owner, had a big party in honour of king Louis XIV, in April 1671. Louis came 3 days. He turned up on Tuesday, he hunted, went for a stroll in the park. Then they took diner in a place full of daffodils.

This special night, chef Vatel presiding in the kitchen. He was the greatest chef of his day, the perfection personified! Condé appointed him contrôleur général de la Bouche, in Chantilly.

Humiliated by a roast

And that night, Vatel had to serve 3000 persons, the king included! Whoa, it was a crazy organisation, everything had to be perfect. But strangely, for this party, everything went wrong... Vatel learned that meats ran short on some tables. What??

No... impossible! For Vatel, it was the supreme humiliation. And he had a little sudden weakness. Oh, maybe because he had not sleep for nights (12, said the famous writer Mrs de Sévigné)?? Aaah, everyone noticed the big shadows under his eyes...

In short. After the diner and the firework (failed because of clouds), Condé congratulated Vatel. The chef stammered some excuses, but Condé said it was perfect.

The fatal delivery

But the next day, an other feast was looming! No time to waste! Vatel woke at 4 in the morning to wait the fishes’ delivery.

Hey, we were on Friday, fish day! Unfortunately, the fishes didn’t come. Lateness. Second dishonour! Vatel waited until 8AM, but nothing. He fell dizzy, and locked himself in his bedroom. There, he took a sword and stabbed it in his heart!

Until he was stone dead. Meanwhile people were looking for him, everywhere, and finally found him in his blood. Whoa, it’s stupid: the delivery finally arrived in Chantilly... Apparently, guests ate "a tremendous quantity of fishes", said period newspapers...


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