Alexandre Étienne Choron

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Choron's 1870 Christmas menu at the restaurant Voisin.

Alexandre Étienne Choron (Caen, 1837 – 1924) was a French chef. As chef de cuisine of the celebrated restaurant Voisin on the rue Saint Honoré, Choron is best known for his invention of Choron sauce, a béarnaise sauce enriched with tomato concentrate.[1]

Choron is also remembered for the food he served during the Siege of Paris by the Prussians, which began on 19 September 1870. During the siege, Parisians were reduced to eating cats, dogs, and rats.[2] The bourgeois did not want to eat such low animals, and the de luxe restaurants had plenty of customers. As food reserves dwindled, these restaurants, including Voisin, improvised.[2] Choron served exotic animal dishes at Voisin. For the midnight Christmas meal of 1870, Choron had a menu mostly of the best parts of the animals kept in the Jardin d'acclimatation (one of the Paris zoos).[2][3] The menu – stuffed head of donkey, elephant consommé, roasted camel, kangaroo stew, bear shanks roasted in pepper sauce, wolf in deer sauce, cat with rat, and antelope in truffle sauce – has become legendary. The menu's wines were Mouton-Rothschild 1846, Romanée-Conti 1858 and Château Palmer 1864.[4]

Choron became famous for his elephant dishes (French: éléphant): Trompe d’éléphant in sauce chasseur and Éléphant bourguignon. After the elephant at the Jardin d'acclimatation were used at the Christmas table, the two elephants (Castor and Pollux) at the Paris' jardin zoologique were consumed on 31 December 1870 at Voisin. In early January, it was the elephant at the Jardin des Plantes (Paris' botanical garden) which was sent to the abbatoir. It was bought by Choron for his restaurant at the price of 15 francs per pound. By 13 January Voisin was out of elephant meat and substituted horse.[2] The siege was lifted two weeks later.

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