Louis de Béchamel

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Louis de Béchamel, marquis de Nointel (1630–1703) was a French financier and patron of the arts.

Life[change | change source]

Son of Jean-Baptiste Béchamel,[1] Louis was a rich tax farmer and superintendent to the house of the Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. In 1697,[2] Béchamel bought the marquisat of Nointel and later became Louis XIV's head steward.

Béchamel and his wife, Marie Colbert (d. April 3, 1686) had two children, Marie Louise Béchamel de Nointel (1661 – April 2, 1740) and Louis Béchamel de Nointel (1649 – December 31, 1718).

Béchamel sauce[change | change source]

The white sauce called béchamel sauce (Fr. sauce béchamel) acquired its name from him for he perfected an older sauce made from cream originally made by François Pierre de la Varenne (1615–1678), the cook of the marquis d'Uxelles. The sauce was dedicated to Béchamel to flatter him, at which the Duke of Escars commented:[3]

"That fellow Béchamel has all the luck! I was serving breast of chicken à la crème more than 20 years before he was born, but I have never had the chance of giving my name to even the most modest sauce."
(« Est-il heureux, ce petit Béchamel ! J’avais fait servir des émincés de blancs de volaille à la crème plus de vingt ans avant qu’il fût au monde et, voyez, pourtant je n’ai jamais eu le bonheur de pouvoir donner mon nom à la plus petite sauce! »)

References[change | change source]

  1. Bérenger, Jean & Jean Meyer. (1976) La Bretagne à la fin du XVII° siècle, Klincksieck. p. 7. ISBN 2-252-01889-5.
  2. The seigneurie had been raised to a marquisate in 1654, in favour of Edouard Olier. (Cailleaux 1961.i.)
  3. Montagne, Prosper. (2003) The Concise Larousse Gastronomique, Octopus Publishing Group -Hamlyn. p. 93. ISBN 0-600-60863-8.