Tom Colicchio

Tom would have rather judged the Mother Sauce Quickfire Challenge.

on Dec 8, 2011

The Mother Sauces tend to be heavier sauces for good reason -- named in the early nineteenth century and updated by chef August Escoffier in the early 20th century, they were a great way to stretch limited ingredients during times of war and famine. Thickening with roux not only would yield many times what a reduction would yield, but also would yield a far more stable end result. Nowadays, chefs lean towards reductions, and very few kitchens are doing sauces at all, never mind the Mother Sauces. But they still have their place in modern kitchens, so they’re still something for chefs to know, and know well. You see Béchamelin Italian dishes such as lasagna. Want to make a chicken pot pie? You need a Velouté!  Making a Mother Sauce your own asked of the chefs a very classic thought process in cooking, one that is in keeping with how creativity in cooking works. For example, with the addition of shallots, tarragon, and a vinegar reduction, a Hollandaise becomes a Béarnaise. A Béarnaise without the tarragon but with the addition of tomato puree becomes a Sauce Choron. Hollandaise with orange instead of lemon becomes a Sauce Maltaise. Adding items to a Beurre Blanc yields interpretations with great applications. And so on. I was pleased to see that Grayson used whole butter in her Hollandaise. Most chefs are taught to use clarified butter, and I thought it was great that she made a conscious choice to use whole butter, clearly knowing what that would do for the flavor and texture of the sauce. Nicely done. For the most part, the chefs did very well with this Quickfire Challenge. That’s the kind of work I expect from chefs of this caliber in a competition of this nature.