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TAILLEVENT. Taillevent (c. 13151395), whose real name was Guillaume Tirel, was employed in the kitchens of the French court from the 1320s to until his death in 1395. The recipes from the manuscript cookbook with which his name is associated, Le Viandier, were copied and widely disseminated both during and long after Taillevent's lifetime and had an enormous influence on French cookery, as evidenced by the different versions to be found in various existing manuscripts. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, as the first cookbook to be printed in France, a greatly enlarged version of Le Viandier remained in circulation for over a century and had an enormous influence on French cookery. Because of the success of his cookbook, Taillevent can rightfully be called the first chef to achieve "star" status in France, where his name became synonymous with "master chef."

Taillevent's recipes, destined principally for festive occasions, give us a glimpse of the kind of cuisine practiced in the aristocratic households from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Characterized by the use of a wide range of spicesin keeping with the dietetic principles of the time that demanded that the cold, wet "humors" of meats, fish, and vegetables be tempered by the hot, dry "virtues" of spicesthey call for such familiar ingredients as veal, capon, or pike, as well as much more exotic foods like crane, swan, or sturgeon, prized for the beauty of their feathers (placed back over them to serve), or for their sheer size. Among the new recipes included in the printed Viandier at the end of the fifteenth century, the importance of pâtés and tarts in the French culinary landscape is documented for the first time.


Hyman, Philip, and Mary Hyman. "Le Viandier de Taillevent." In Les fastes du Gothique: Le siècle de Charles V. Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1981.

Hyman, Philip. "Les livres de cuisine et le commerce des recettes en France aux XVe et XVIe siècles." In Du Manuscrit à la Table. Carole Lambert (ed.). Paris: Slatkine, 1992.

Laurioux, Bruno. Le règne de Taillevent. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1997.

Mary HymanPhilip Hyman