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Lady Chef Stampede: Madame du Barry

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I’m holding a Lady Chef Stampede! This year, I’ll be posting about the dozens of women who changed the history of food. Whether they’re chefs, restauranteurs, or writers, these are the women on whose shoulders we’re all standing. Today’s Lady Chef isn’t a chef at all, but she’s still important: Madame du Barry.

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Madame du Barry was the illegitimate daughter of a female chef (and a monk) so the idea that women couldn’t cook never even occurred to her. She became the much-loved mistress of the French king, Louis XV, and she’s an object-lesson in why female chefs rock and male chefs are all boo hiss. Louis XV was a culinary innovator in his own way, changing the King’s meals from gigantic court spectacles known as The Grand Service to more intimate events with only 20 or so guests where the focus was on witty conversation. He also declared that his kitchen was not allowed to employ women because they weren’t talented enough to cook for the King’s table, and this drove Madame du Barry, whose personal chef was a woman, nuts.

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One night in 1769, she invited the King to eat with her. The first course was a thick pheasant jelly, followed by the crust of a French roll filled with eel livers. Then came a hash of snipe, a supreme of chicken, crayfish cooked in Sauterne, a roast pullet, and it ended with kickshaws (which are a catch-all phrase for elaborate little delicacies). Louis XV was blown away and he demanded to see the chef responsible for this edible masterpiece immediately. His jaw hit the floor when Madame du Barry presented him with a woman, but she didn’t stop there. Insisting that someone capable of impressing the King so greatly was deserving of an accolade, and so she demanded that he present her chef with the highest accolade he could give, the Medaille de l’Ordre du Saint-Esprit (Medal of the Order of the Holy Spirit), known popularly as the “cordon bleu.” Abashed, Louis XV did so. Although we don’t know the name of this female chef, this incident lives on in legend in France and is one of the most important historical stories that gives creds to female chefs.

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After Louis XV died, Madame du Barry hired a male chef for herself named Salanave. When she was imprisoned during the French Revolution, Salanave gave perjured evidence at her trial and the result was that Madame du Barry was executed. The lesson here? Female chefs will impress the King. Male chefs will get your head chopped off. Female chefs, yay! Male chefs, boo! At least, that’s probably how Madame du Barry saw it.

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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