Sauces have evolved, as civilization has. Medieval sauces, which relied on ancient ingredients, were either very spicy, sweet or sour. They were designed to mask the harsh flavors of poorly prepared, slightly spoiled foods. They consisted mainly of spicy stock made with wild herbs and unripe fruits, sometimes blended with toasted-bread crumbs. It was not until the 17th and 18th century when more refined and aromatic preparations began to appear. It was "Marie-Antoine Careme" who began to classify sauces. The evolution of sauces continued with "Auguste Escoffier", it was said shortly there after that England had three sauces and 360 religions, while France had three religions and 360 sauces. "Le Repertoire" lists some 480 variations of sauces. Currently, there are many classical sauces still used; however, there is a move toward lighter sauces, and an increased interest by our guests in healthier meals.


The major sauces are basically made of three components:
1. A liquid, the body of the sauce. stocks, milk, fats,
2. A thickening agent, roux, starch, liaison: cream, egg yolks, vegetable purees, fat and sometimes blood, as used in Europe for wild game sauces,
3. The flavoring and seasoning, a subtle balance of many ingredients,none dominating.
To understand sauce making you must learn to prepare these components. You need to understand how to combine and assemble them into finished sauces.


A sauce adds to the food it is served with in four different ways:
1. Adds moisture and texture,
2. Adds flavor and richness,
3. Changes the appearance and contrasts,
4. Creates interest and stimulates the appetite.


The quality standards of a good sauce is measured by the following characteristics:

1. Thickness:
Consistency is given by partially thickening with roux or starch. Viscosity is the resistance of the sauce to movement, and is then achieved by reducing the sauce over a period of time.

2. Texture:
Proper distribution of all particles in the sauce is given by perfect combining and homogenizing of the roux and stock. Reduction and depouillage of all impurities achieve this perfection. The sauce is given its final texture by straining through a cloth or chinois.

3. Color:
The proper color is the result of its components, stock, roux and various seasonings and flavorings. The color of each sauce is part of its character.

4. Shine:
This is the degree to which the sauce reflects light. The shine comes from the starch used and the process of reduction and depouillage.

5. Taste:
The cardinal rule of flavoring and seasoning sauces, is that it should be well balanced. A well-balanced sauce aims for a subtle equilibrium of many ingredients, without a single flavor dominating. The food it will be served with must be taken into consideration.