Taillevent—his real name was Guillaume Tirel, but many apprentices in those days picked up nicknames that they never outgrew—must have been quite a character, for a remarkable amount is known about him in an age when most craftsmen, like the builders of the Gothic cathedrals, passed forgotten into history. In 1326, when he was about fourteen, he was a happelapin (kitchen boy) to Queen Jeanne of France and was charged with the unenviable task of turning the great roasting spits before the open fire. By 1346 Taillevent had risen to keu (cook) to King
Philip VI, and in 1349 he was granted a house ‘in consideration of the good and pleasant service the king has received.’ Soon after, he was raised to the rank of écuyer, or squire, and passed from household to household within the Valois family until, in 1381, he was at the top of his profession as master cook to King Charles VI. He probably compiled Le Viandiera few years earlier with the encouragement of King Charles V, known as Charles the Wise for his fine judgement and cultivated tastes.