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Vatel was born in Paris. He is widely but incorrectly credited with creating crème Chantilly (Chantilly cream), a sweet, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, but there is no contemporary documentation for this claim, and whipped, flavored cream was known at least a century earlier.
Vatel was responsible for an extravagant banquet for 2,000 people hosted in honour of Louis XIV by Louis, the great Condé in April 1671 at the Château de Chantilly, where he died. According to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, Vatel was so distraught about the lateness of the seafood delivery and about other mishaps that he committed suicide by running himself through with a sword, and his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish.
His story was depicted in the 2000 film Vatel by Roland Joffé, with Gérard Depardieu playing the role of Vatel. According to the film, Vatel committed suicide when he realized he was nothing more than property in the eyes of his superiors.
- Dominique Michel 1999.Vatel ou la naissance de la gastronomie (Editions Fayard)
- Patrick Rambourg 1999. Recettes du Grand Siècle (Editions Fayard)
- Mathilde Mottoule 2006. Vatel ou l'origine d'un mythe.