Endangered French Classics

Omelet Norvégienne
Photo: Photo © Seelow/photocuisine/Corbis

Legendary chef André Soltner, Dean of Classic Studies at the International Culinary Center, was hosting a University Settlement benefit, where he resurrected his famous New York restaurant Lutèce. Here, he recalls the classic dishes that have gone from extremely popular to near extinction.—Alex Vallis

01 of 06

Tournedos Rossini

Tournedos Rossini
Photo © Photocuisine / Alamy.

Chef André Soltner is serving this dish for An Evening at Lutèce to benefit University Settlement, on April 16. Attributed to the French chef and grand cuisine pioneer Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833), it's composed of filet mignon with foie gras and Madeira sauce.

02 of 06

Saddle of Veal Prince Orloff

Saddle of Veal Prince Orloff
Photo © SoFood / Alamy.

"When I was a young chef, this was very successful for parties. You roast the whole saddle of veal, then take it out when it's three-quarters of the way done, slice it and put it back together with slices of foie gras and truffle. Then you cover it with little soubise (rice with onions cooked to a puree) before you finish roasting it, then serve it with demiglace. That was a very classic dish 60 to 80 years ago. Sometimes you see an individual fillet of lamb Prince Orloff on a menu, but it's not really the same."

03 of 06

Crème de Volaille

Crème de Volaille
Photo © Lynne Sutherland / Alamy.

"This is a cream of chicken soup. You have to do a real chicken stock, bind it with a roux, and then cook it again for 30 to 45 minutes before adding cream. You don't see many soups on menus anymore. When I did my apprenticeship from 1948 to '51, we changed the menu every day and we always had three soups: a cream soup, a vegetable soup and a consommé."

04 of 06

Meat and Fish en Croûte

Meat and Fish en Croûte
Photo © Robert May / Alamy.

"When I had my restaurant we did a lot of things en croûte, with an all-butter puff pastry. It's not so common now, maybe because people think it's too heavy. People nowadays think classic French cuisine was heavy, but when it was done the right way then it was not. It was very tasty."

05 of 06

Béchamel

Moussaka with Yogurt Béchamel
Photo © Frances Janisch.

"In classic cuisine there was a lot of béchamel, made with flour, butter and milk. When you cook it long enough so you don't have the feeling of raw flour, it's still a good sauce and there are chefs today who don't know how to do it. You also use béchamel to thicken. Over the years we tried many different alternatives—vegetable puree, beurre blanc, cream—but the final result is not much better." (Left: Moussaka with Yogurt Béchamel)

06 of 06

Omelet Norvégienne

Omelet Norvégienne
Photo © Seelow/photocuisine/Corbis

"Today pastry chefs are much more well known and dessert is more important than it was 30 years ago. Back then, for a party you might make omelet norvégienne, also known as baked Alaska: a biscuit with ice cream, covered with a meringue and baked in the oven. Now desserts are more sophisticated."

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