Alexandre Etienne Choron (1837-1924)
Choron was best known for inventing the Choron sauce. This, of course, is the béarnaise sauce enriched with tomato concentrate before reduction. Recipes will be included at the conclusion of this article. Perhaps his menu selections while chef de cuisine at the famous restaurant Vosin are most intriguing. On September 19, 1879 the Siege of Paris by the Prussians began. During the siege, Parisians were forced to eat animals such as cat, dog, and rat. The bourgeois did not want to dine this low on the food chain so demand at deluxe restaurants remained high. Since food reserves were getting more and more scarce, chefs had to improvise. Choron soon started serving exotic animal from the local zoo, and for the Christmas meal of 1870, served stuffed head of donkey, elephant consommé, roasted camel, kangaroo stew, bear shanks roasted in pepper sauce and several others to include antelope in truffle sauce. The famous wines served included Mouton –Rothchild, Romanee-Conti, and Chateau Palmer.
Choron was famous for his elephant dishes and he used many from various Paris zoos for his cuisine at Voisin purchased at 15 francs per pound. When elephant meat ran out, horse meat was substituted. So the next time you order exotic game or other not so common menu items, think of Alexander Etienne Choron.
Choron Sauce recipe source Escoffier, The Complete guide to Modern Cookery. Sauce Bearnaise Tomtatee, also called Sauce Choron:
Prepare a sauce Bearnaise omitting the final addition of chopped tarragon and chervil and keeping it fairly thick. Add up to a quarter of its volume of tomato puree which has been reduced, in order that the addition will not alter the consistency of the sauce. It is an essential accompaniment for Tournedos a la choron.
Chef Jules Pernell, CCE, CEC, FMP