Crêpes Suzette is probably the most famous crêpe dish in the world. In a restaurant, a classic crêpe Suzette is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests. The crêpes are served hot with a sauce of sugar, orange juice, and liqueur (usually Grand Marnier). Brandy is poured over the crêpes and then lit, creating a dramatic flambé effect.
The history of Crêpe Suzette can be traced back to a mistake made by a fourteen-year-old assistant waiter, Henri Charpentier (1880-1961), in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England.
According to Henri Charpentier's own words from his book "Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier":
"It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had ever tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste... He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse.
He recognized that the crêpe controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crêpes Princesse to Crêpes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane."
The story of how Crêpes Suzette was created has become legendary in culinary history, and the dish has remained a favorite among diners for over a century.
- Charpentier, H., & Sparkes, B. (2001). Life À La Henri: Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier. Modern Library.
- Anon. (2019). The Surprising Story of Crepes Suzette. Bon Appétit. Retrieved from https://www.bonappetit.com/story/surprising-story-of-crepes-suzette