Alexandre Etienne Choron (1772–1834), a French musicologist and pedagogue born at Caen, may not have anything to do with this tomato-tinged variation of béarnaise sauce. But if you have a better candidate for its eponym, I would like to hear about him (or her). Meanwhile, I prefer to imagine that Choron circulated in the gastronomically zesty Paris of his mature years, the heyday of Carême, the superchef; Talleyrand, host of hosts; and Brillat-Savarin, the philosopher of the table. Why shouldn’t an eminent musical luminary have met these other proto-foodies, at the opera or in restaurants? And why shouldn’t he have proposed it to some of his food cronies?
Béarnaise itself was a nineteenth-century sauce, first made at Saint-Germain-en-Laye outside Paris, in the kitchen of the Pavilion Henri IV, named after the greatest son of the Béarn country in the lower Pyrenees.
More recently, Paul Bocuse, standard-bearer for the nouvelle cuisine, served sauce Choron, traditionally an accompaniment for grilled meats, with his signature dish, a whole sea bass encased in puff pastry decorated to look like a fish.