National Cordon Bleu Day is celebrated on April 4 each year to commemorate the invention of Cordon Bleu, the dish which has fast become a favorite in restaurants across the globe. Essentially this dish is made with either chicken breast, pork, or veal that is then snugly tucked with ham and any cheese (Swiss, Emmental, or Gruyere), coated with breadcrumbs, and then either fried or baked to perfection. It is commonly served with a Dijon cream sauce. And Americans, in particular, seem to go ga-ga over it, which comes as no surprise, given that it’s like having a giant cheesy nugget swimming in a creamy sauce — a mouth-watering entree to be sure.
History of National Cordon Bleu Day
Though the origins of this day are murky, the origin of the dish Cordon Bleu is said to hail from Switzerland, where it was more commonly referred to as a ‘schnitzel.’ Back in 1578, in France, there was an order of knights known as the “Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit” and they had a practice of hanging their talismans on blue ribbons. Thanks to this, they became known as ‘Les Cordon Bleus’ (literally, ‘the blue ribbons’) and during King Henry III of France’s rule, the blue ribbon gained its significance by being awarded only to knights of the highest rank.
This is why it is symbolic of excellence even today, as blue ribbons then began to be conferred upon chefs and their dishes which were of the highest standards. Contrary to popular belief though, the famous French culinary arts institute, Le Cordon Bleu, has nothing to do with the founding of National Cordon Bleu Day, despite the name. The dish can also be traced back to Veal Kiev, which was introduced in Paris in the late 1840s. Later on, in Moscow, the veal was swapped out for chicken and the recipe first appeared in print in the year 1955.
It was in the 1960s that the dish reached America while making its first print appearance in “The New York Times” in 1967. But given this rather bland history, we prefer the story (even if its veracity is dubious), where a Swiss chef found herself with insufficient meat for two large groups of patrons at her restaurant. She then hit upon the idea of butterflying the meat filets, stuffing them with ham and cheese, and frying them up, which earned her a blue ribbon. She declined but mentioned that it would make a fitting name for the dish, hence the name Cordon Bleu.
National Cordon Bleu Day timeline
The knights hang their talisman on blue ribbons and the Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit become known as ‘Les Cordon Bleus.’
Le Cordon Bleu opens and becomes one of the most famous culinary schools in France.
Since the blue ribbon stands for ‘excellence’ in French culture, the Swiss schnitzel receives this recognition and becomes ‘Cordon Bleu.’
Stanley Demos prints a recipe of his version of Veal Cordon Bleu in the “Cincinnati Enquirer,” using chicken instead of pork or veal.
National Cordon Bleu Day FAQs
What is the difference between Chicken Kiev and Cordon Bleu?
The main difference between the two is that the Chicken Kiev is stuffed with cold butter, whereas Cordon Bleu is stuffed with ham and cheese.
Why is it called Cordon Bleu?
It is called this because the translation of ‘Cordon Bleu’ is ‘blue ribbon’. The blue ribbon was only conferred upon knights of the highest prestige, back in France in the 1500s, in the court of King Henry III. Hence the blue ribbon came to stand for the highest standard and is given to chefs and their dishes which surpass expectations, like the dish Cordon Bleu.
What exactly is Cordon Bleu?
It’s a schnitzel where the meat is pounded and then wrapped around ham and cheese. This is coated with breadcrumbs and then either deep-fried or baked. It’s commonly served with a Dijon cream sauce, or French Fries with ketchup and rice.
National Cordon Bleu Day Activities
Sample some authentic Cordon Bleu
If you have never tried the dish before, we suggest you go out and try it at any authentic French restaurant. You can make it a date with your partner, or even have a family night out. Whatever you choose, make sure to share in its delicacy.
Create your own ‘blue ribbon’ dish
Got a signature dish that you have managed to make your own over the years? Go ahead and make it worthy of a blue ribbon, with friends and family being the ones to judge it at the table. Or try making your own Cordon Bleu, there are many versions out there to try from.
Explore French culinary history
There are so many great dishes of universal appeal, which have originated from France. This day could present the perfect opportunity to dive into the history of these dishes and arm yourself with fascinating factoids and origin stories that could wow those at your next dinner party conversation.
5 Facts About French Cuisine You May Not Know
The French live to eat
We say this in all seriousness — food is given the highest priority and cultural significance in France.
A cuisine for each region
Every region of France has its own unique cuisines and dishes.
Baguettes are free and unlimited
In any French restaurant, the baguette is free and one can have unlimited servings of it.
It’s the cheesiest country
France produces over 400 different kinds of traditionally-made cheeses.
Fast food is a hit
The French love all the popular fast-food chains which Americans do!
Why We Love National Cordon Bleu Day
It’s a multi-national dish
This is a dish that has gained appreciation worldwide, so it’s no wonder that it requires a day for itself. The holiday allows us to appreciate international cuisine and give it the honor it deserves.
Yet another food holiday
Who doesn’t love another food holiday, as they give us a chance to widen our culinary horizons and gain a new appreciation for dishes which bring us more than just full stomachs — they bring us closer to another culture too.
It’s culturally adaptable
The beauty of Cordon Bleu lies in its relative simplicity and variations. This can be made using different meats, which make it suitable for all cultures and people groups.
National Cordon Bleu Day dates