This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
A cook of the first order; generally, however, applied to first-class female cooks. The name has reference to the order of the blue ribbon instituted by one of the French kings. "King Louis XV had among his numerous failings a supreme contempt for female cooks and never would admit that they could cook a dinner worthy of being eaten by him, until one day, when he was dining with the celebrated Madame du Barry and was served successively with dishes of the most recherche description admirably cooked, he was so overcome at such elaborate and perfect fare that he asked to see the cook, but on hearing that all this was the handicraft of a women he felt quite disgusted; however, soon recovering his serenity he consented, and, at the request of his mistress, he enobled the cook by conferring upon her the 'Cordon Bleu,' (the order of knighthood of the Saint Esprit, instituted by Henry III), which from that time has been the recognized definition of a skillful female cook. In France, when you are dining with friends and admire the fare, it is quite the correct thing to say to the mistress of the house: ' Madame, you have a veritable cordon bleu!"