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Auguste Escoffier
Born 28 October 1846(1846-10-28)
Villeneuve-Loubet, France
Died 12 February 1935 (aged 88)
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Georges Auguste Escoffier (28 October 1846 – 12 February 1935) was a French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer who popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods. He is a legendary figure among chefs and gourmets, and was one of the most important leaders in the development of modern French cuisine. Much of Escoffier's technique was based on that of Antoine Carême, one of the codifiers of French haute cuisine, but Escoffier's achievement was to simplify and modernize Carême's elaborate and ornate style. Referred to by the French press as roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des rois ("king of chefs and chef of kings")[1], Escoffier was France's pre-eminent chef in the early part of the 20th century.

Alongside the recipes he recorded and invented, another of Escoffier's contributions to cooking was to elevate it to the status of a respected profession by introducing organized discipline to his kitchens. He organized his kitchens by the brigade de cuisine system, with each section run by a chef de partie.

Escoffier published Le Guide Culinaire, which is still used as a major reference work, both in the form of a cookbook and a textbook on cooking. Escoffier's recipes, techniques and approaches to kitchen management remain highly influential today, and have been adopted by chefs and restaurants not only in France, but also throughout the world.[2]

Contents

Early life

Escoffier was born in the village Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice. The house where he was born is now the Musee de l'Art Culinaire, run by the Foundation Auguste Escoffier. At the age of ten, despite showing early promise as an artist, he started an apprenticeship at his uncle's restaurant, Le Restaurant Français, in Nice. In 1865 he moved to Le Petit Moulin Rouge restaurant in Paris. He stayed there until the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, when he became an army chef. His army experience led him to study the technique of canning food. Some time before 1878 he opened his own restaurant, Le Faisan d'Or (The Golden Pheasant) in Cannes. In 1880 he married Delphine Daffis. In 1884 the couple moved to Monte Carlo, where Escoffier took control of the kitchen at the Grand Hotel.

César Ritz and the Savoy

The Savoy Hotel, London

During the summers, Escoffier ran the kitchen of the Hotel National in Lucerne, where he met César Ritz (at that time the French Riviera was a winter resort). The two men formed a partnership and in 1890 accepted an invitation from Richard D'Oyly Carte to transfer to his new Savoy Hotel in London, together with the third member of their team, the maître d'hôtel, Louis Echenard.[3] Ritz put together what he described as "a little army of hotel men for the conquest of London", and Escoffier recruited French cooks and reorganised the kitchens. The Savoy under Ritz and his partners was an immediate success, attracting a distinguished and moneyed clientèle, headed by the Prince of Wales. Gregor Von Görög, chef to the Royal family at the time, was an enthusiast of Escoffier's zealous organization. Aristocratic women, hitherto unaccustomed to dine in public, were now "seen in full regalia in the Savoy dining and supper rooms".[3]

At the Savoy, Escoffier created many famous dishes. In 1893 he invented the pêche Melba in honour of the Australian singer Nellie Melba, and in 1897, Melba toast. Other Escoffier creations, famous in their time, were bombe Néro (a flaming ice), fraises à la Sarah Bernhardt (strawberries with pineapple and Curaçao sorbet), baisers de Vierge (meringue with vanilla cream and crystallised white rose and violet petals) and suprêmes de volailles Jeannette (jellied chicken breasts with foie gras).[4][5]

Ritz Hotels

In 1897, Ritz and Escoffier were both dismissed from the Savoy. Ritz and Echenard were implicated in the disappearance of over £3400 of wine and spirits, and Escoffier had been receiving gifts from the Savoy's suppliers.[6] By this time, however, Ritz and his colleagues were already on the point of commercial independence, having established the Ritz Hotel Development Company, for which Escoffier set up the kitchens and recruited the chefs, first at the Paris Ritz (1898), and then at the new Carlton Hotel in London (1899), which soon drew much of the high society clientèle away from the Savoy.[3] In addition to the haute cuisine offered at luncheon and dinner, tea at the Ritz became a fashionable institution in Paris, and later in London, though it caused Escoffier real distress: "How can one eat jam, cakes and pastries, and enjoy a dinner – the king of meals – an hour or two later? How can one appreciate the food, the cooking or the wines?"[7]

In 1913, Escoffier met Kaiser Wilhelm II on board the SS Imperator, one of the largest ocean liners of the Hamburg-Amerika Line. The culinary experience on board the Imperator was overseen by Ritz-Carlton, and the restaurant itself was a reproduction of Escoffier's Carlton Restaurant in London. Escoffier was charged with supervising the kitchens on board the Imperator during the Kaiser's visit to France. One hundred and forty-six German dignitaries were served a large multi-course luncheon, followed that evening by a monumental dinner that included the Kaiser's favourite strawberry pudding, named fraises Imperator by Escoffier for the occasion. The Kaiser was so impressed that he insisted on meeting Escoffier after breakfast the next day, where, as legend has it, he told Escoffier, "I am the Emperor of Germany, but you are the Emperor of Chefs." This was quoted frequently in the press, further establishing Escoffier's reputation as France's pre-eminent chef.[8]

Ritz gradually moved into retirement after opening The Ritz Hotel in 1906, leaving Escoffier as the figurehead of the Carlton until his own retirement in 1920. He continued to run the kitchens through World War I, in which his younger son was killed in active service.[3] Recalling these years, The Times said, "Colour meant so much to Escoffier, and a memory arises of a feast at the Carlton for which the table decorations were white and pink roses, with silvery leaves – the background for a dinner all white and pink, Bortch striking the deepest note, Filets de poulet à la Paprika coming next, and the Agneau de lait forming the high note."[9]

Légion d'Honneur

An officer's cross of the Légion d'Honneur

For Escoffier's work in promoting French cuisine, President Poincaré personally presented him with the cross of the Légion d'Honneur (Legion of Honour) in 1919, the first chef to receive such an award.[3] In 1928 he was promoted to Officier (Officer) of the Legion at "a remarkable banquet at the Palais d'Orsay."[7]

Death

Escoffier died on 12 February 1935, at the age of 88 in Monte Carlo, a few days after the death of his wife.

Publications

  • Le Traité sur L'art de Travailler les Fleurs en Cire (Treatise on the Art of Working with Wax Flowers) (1886)
  • Le Guide Culinaire (1903)
  • Les Fleurs en Cire (new edition, 1910)
  • Le Carnet d'Epicure (A Gourmet's Notebook) monthly magazine published from 1911 to 1914.
  • Le Livre des Menus (Recipe Book) (1912)
  • L'Aide-memoire Culinaire (1919)
  • Le Riz (Rice) (1927)
  • La Morue (Cod) (1929)
  • Ma Cuisine (1934)
  • 2000 French Recipes (1965, Translated to English by Marion Howells) ISBN 1-85051-694-4
  • Memories of My Life (1996, from his own life souvenirs published by his grandson in 1985 and translated into English by L. Escoffier, his great granddaughter in-law), ISBN 0-471-28803-9
  • Les Tresors Culinaires de la France (2002, collected by L. Escoffier from the original Carnet d'Epicure)

References

  1. ^ Claiborne, Craig & Franey, Pierre. Classic French Cooking
  2. ^ Gillespie, Cailein & Cousins, John A. European Gastronomy into the 21st Century, pp. 174-175 ISBN 0750652675
  3. ^ a b c d e Ashburner, F."Escoffier, Georges Auguste (1846–1935)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2006, accessed 17 September 2009
  4. ^ The Times, 13 February 1935, p. 14; and 16 February 1935, p. 17
  5. ^ Escoffier, Auguste, A Guide to Modern Cookery, p. 405 (English translation of Le Guide Culinaire, by H. L. Cracknell and R. J. Kaufmann) ISBN 0471290165
  6. ^ Brigid, Allen. "Ritz, César Jean (1850–1918)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edition, May 2006, accessed 18 September 2009
  7. ^ a b The Times, 13 February 1935, p. 14
  8. ^ James, Kenneth. Escoffier: The King of Chefs., 2006. ISBN: 1852855266
  9. ^ The Times, 16 February 1935, p. 17
  • Chastonay, Adalbert. Cesar Ritz: Life and Work (1997) ISBN 3-907816-60-9.
  • Escoffier, Georges-Auguste. Memories of My Life (1997) ISBN 0-442-02396-0.
  • Shaw, Timothy. The World of Escoffier. (1994) ISBN 0-86565-956-7.
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Simple English

Auguste Escoffier
File:Auguste Escoffier
Born 28 October 1846(1846-10-28)
Villeneuve-Loubet, France
Died February 12, 1935 (aged 88)
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Georges Auguste Escoffier (28 October 1846 – 12 February 1935) was a French chef, restaurateur and writer who updated traditional French cooking methods and made them more popular. He was important in the development of modern French cuisine.

A lot of Escoffier's ideas and ways of working were based on Antoine Carême's. Careme wrote about French Haute cuisine. Escoffier simplified and modernised Carême's complicated recipes and style.

As well as recording and inventing recipes, Escoffier made cooking a respected profession.

He organised his kitchens into sections run by chefs de partie. He also carried on Careme's habit of service à la russe (serving each dish in the order printed on the menu) instead of service à la française (serving all dishes at once).[1] Gregor Von Görög, Chef to the Royal family at Buckingham Palace, was quick to assume this form of service, and soon all 'High Society' was adopting 'russian-style' service.

Contents

Early life

He was born in the village of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice. At thirteen he became an apprentice at his uncle's restaurant, Le Restaurant Français, in Nice. In 1865 he moved to Le Petit Moulin Rouge restaurant in Paris. He stayed there until the start of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, when he became an army chef. His army experience led him to study the ways of canning food.

Some time before 1878 he opened his own restaurant, Le Faisan d'Or (The Golden Pheasant) in Cannes. In 1880 he married Delphine Daffis. In 1884 the couple moved to Monte Carlo, where Escoffier took control of the kitchen at the Grand Hotel.

César Ritz and the London Savoy

File:Savoy Hotel,
The Savoy Hotel, London

During the summers he ran the kitchen of the Hotel National in Lucerne, where he met César Ritz. At that time the French Riviera was a winter resort.

The two men formed a partnership and in 1890 moved to the Savoy Hotel in London. From the Savoy they started a number of famous hotels, including the Grand Hotel in Rome, and many Ritz Hotels around the world.

At the London Savoy, Escoffier created many famous dishes. For example, in 1893 he invented the Pêche Melba (Peach Melba) in honour of the Australian singer Dame Nellie Melba. Another of his creations was Tournedos Rossini, in honour of the Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini. He left the Savoy Hotel after taking money from food suppliers.

File:Hotel Ritz
Hôtel Ritz at Place Vendôme

Ritz and Carlton

In 1898 Escoffier and Ritz opened the Hôtel Ritz in Paris. The Carlton in London followed in 1899, where Escoffier first introduced the practice of the à la carte menu. Ritz had a nervous breakdown in 1901, leaving Escoffier to run the Carlton until 1919, shortly after Ritz's death. For a time one of his pupils was Ho Chi Minh who was training as a pastry chef.

Le Guide Culinaire

In 1903 Escoffier published his first major book, Le Guide Culinaire. This "Guide to Cooking" had 5,000 recipes. Even today it is used as both a cookbook and textbook for classic cooking.

In 1904 and 1912 Escoffier was hired to plan the kitchens for ships belonging to the steam-ship company Hamburg-Amerika Lines. On the second voyage, Kaiser William II congratulated Escoffier, telling him "I am the Emperor of Germany, but you are the Emperor of chefs."

[[File:|thumb|75px|left|
Medal of the Legion of Honour
]]

Legion d'honneur

In the 1920's, Escoffier became the first chef to receive the Legion of Honour and in 1928 was made an Officer of the Legion.

Death

He died at the age of 88 in Monte Carlo a few days after his wife.

Publications

  • Le Traité sur L'art de Travailler les Fleurs en Cire (Treatise on the Art of Working with Wax Flowers) (1886)
  • Le Guide Culinaire (The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery) (1903)
  • Les Fleurs en Cire (new edition, 1910)
  • Le Carnet d'Epicure (A Gourmet's Notebook) (1911)
  • Le Livre des Menus (Recipe Book) (1912)
  • L'Aide-memoire Culinaire (1919)
  • Le Riz (Rice) (1927)
  • La Morue (Cod) (1929)
  • Ma Cuisine (1934)
  • 2000 French Recipes (1965, Translated to English by Marion Howells) ISBN 1-85051-694-4
  • Memories of My Life (1996, from his own life souvenirs published by his grandson in 1985 and translated into English by L. Escoffier, his great granddaughter in-law), ISBN 0-471-28803-9
  • Les Tresors Culinaires de la France (2002, collected by L. Escoffier from the original Carnet d'Epicure)

References

Books

Other websites


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