Carving squire's presentation knife.
To prepare a banquet, cooks must be equipped with the utensils their art requires. In his culinary treatise Du fait de cuisine, Master Chiquart - chief cook of the Savoy court - lists the needs of his brigade. Large knives are particulary needed to butcher and empty the animals. Cooks' tools are already well defined by specific tasks.
Carving horsemen cut the meat dishes before presenting them to the prince and his guests. Active close to the lord, with dangerous instruments, the carving squire is a trusted person chosen among the nobles of the princely entourage. He occupies a prestigious position and holds a real technical know-how. The exercise of his art contributes greatly to the staging of the princely banquet.
The carving squire, an official tasked with carving the lord's meat, has to demonstrate ability and comprehensive knowledge of animal anatomy when it comes to cutting meat in the correct place, on the first slice, and in accordance with the particular cut of meat. Once carved, he presents this to the lord on a knife blade, or in a more refined manner on a presentation stand such as this, typically German, creation. This example denotes particular metalworking expertise, with bone inlays in gilded brass.
This carving squire's presentation knife, generously lent by the Musée des Arts de la Table, is on display at the Château de Chillon™ from 14 September 2018 to 28 April 2019 as part of the temporary exhibition Water in your mouth – Drinking and eating in the Middle Ages.