The Real Reason Steak Sauce Has Become Less Popular

Whether you're team Heinz 57 or A.1., odds are you can agree that steak sauce is somehow a thing of the past. While the condiments still very much exist, they don't seem to be placed on tables at steakhouses like they used to. Is this a signal from the chef or something else?

As it turns out, a customer's request for steak sauce is poison to a chef's ears. When a customer requests sauce, it means the meat is not good on its own. This, in turn, is an insult to the dish and a humbling to the cook. John Tesar of Bravo's "Top Chef" claims that saucing up a premier steak is almost "sacrilegious" (via Thrillist). In fact, when steakhouses provide steak sauce just like they offer salt and pepper for every table, it could be a blind indication that you may need it when, actually, a good steak shouldn't require extra flavor.

Bloomberg states that Kraft, the company that owns A.1., removed the words "steak sauce" from their bottles in hopes of becoming a sauce condiment for other things and reaching a larger audience. Although that's a clever marketing technique, this isn't quite the reason for the sudden steak sauce protest. Instead, it has a little something to do with the quality of meat.

Meat is of higher quality nowadays

That's right, corporate chef Michael Ollier says that we can know that more ranchers are producing meat of a higher caliber since Certified Angus Beef has a far higher approval rate of cattle today (per Thrillist). In 1978, Certified Angus Beef was the first established beef company in the world. The stakes this company set did not exist for older generations but marbled meats are more readily available now, allowing customers to appreciate the natural flavors these cuts have to offer without using the sauce.

As noted by Let's Look Again, Henderson William Brand was the mastermind behind A.1.. As King George the IV's personal chef, he invented sauces like "Essence of Chicken," "Essence of Beef," and eventually "Brand's International Sauce," which was then renamed "A.1.." The sauce contains vinegar, spices, and dried fruits, with one fruit in particular — raisins. According to Portable Press, when raisins come in contact with beef, it slows down the decaying process and masks the taste of declining beef. Back then, meat production was much slower, and the beef quality was much lower. Therefore, the beef sauce was necessary for it to be tolerable to eat.

Don't get us wrong, a tangy chimichurri or beef consommé is the perfect pairing to a rib-eye, flank steak, or fillet, but these sauces are meant to complement the flavors of the beef. Steak sauces had a different intention from the start and are, overall, less necessary in today's food-forward world.