Auguste Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubet,the Provence region of France in October 28, 1846. When he turned 13, his father took him to Nice where he apprenticed at a restaurant owned by his uncle, thus beginning the illustrious career that he enjoyed for the next 62 years.
His culinary career took him many places, from the early years at the fashionable Le Petit Moulin Rouge and several other restaurants in Paris, to Monte Carlo, Switzerland, and London. In 1870, when the Franco-Prussian War began, Escoffier was called to duty in the army where he served as Chef de Cuisine. It was during this period that he came to consider the need for tinned foods and was thus the first chef to undertake in-depth study of techniques for canning and preserving meats and vegetables. After returning to civilian life, Escoffier resumed his career in several Parisian restaurants where he steadily moved up the ladder of success. During his time at the Carlton, Escoffier developed a superior reputation for haute cuisine. While at the Savoy, Escoffier created one of his most famous recipes, Peach Melba, in honor of the Austrian singer Nellie Melba who was a guest at the hotel.
Three of Escoffier’s most noted career achievements are revolutionizing and modernizing the menu, the art of cooking and the organization of the professional kitchen. Escoffier simplified the menu as it had been, writing the dishes down in the order in which they would be served (Service à la Russe). He also developed the first à la Carte menu. He simplified the art of cooking by getting rid of ostentatious food displays and elaborate garnishes and by reducing the number of courses served. He also emphasized the use of seasonal foods and lighter sauces. Escoffier also simplified professional kitchen organization, as he integrated it into a single unit from its previously individualized sections that operated autonomously and often created great wasted and duplication of labor. Throughout his career, Escoffier wrote a number of books, many of which continue to be considered important today. Some of his best-known works include Le Guide Culinaire (1903), Le Livre des Menus (1912) and Ma Cuisine (1934).
As well as making changes in the culinary world, Escoffier undertook several philanthropic endeavors including the organization of programs to feed the hungry and programs to financially assist retired chefs. Escoffier received several honors in his lifetime. The French government recognized Escoffier in 1920 by making him a Chevalier of the Legion d’ Honneur, and later an Officer in 1928. The honors due Escoffier can be summed up by a quote from Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II when he told Escoffier, “I am the Emperor of Germany, but you are the emperor of chefs.” With his wife, Delphine Daffis, Escoffier retired to Monte Carlo in 1921, there he died on February 12, 1935. Marie Antoine Carême, “Chef of kings and the king of Chefs.”
In March 1811, Napoleon and his new wife, Marie Louise, welcomed the birth of a boy, the longed for male heir needed to carry the Bonaparte line forward. A grand feast was ordered to celebrate the christening of the young “King of Rome.” Only a year earlier, a young pastry chef named Marie-Antoine Carême had dazzled the court with a still-talked about wedding cake. For the christening he would out-do himself again. Using spun sugar, confectioner’s paste, cream, and meringues all dyed in varying shades of blue, rose, and gold, Carême created a magnificent replica of a Venetian gondola.
He was abandoned in Paris at the age of 8 and began working as a kitchen boy in a Parisian steakhouse. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to Sylvain Bailly, a famous patissier in Paris. Carême codified the four primary families of French sauces that form the basis of classic French cooking to this day–espagnole, vélouté, allemande, and béchamel. Thanks to Carême’s books, French chefs working at home and abroad had a basic, shared vocabulary to refer to in their cooking. Marie-Antoine Careme is famed for being the inventor of classical cuisine. Careme crafted pieces for Parisian high society, including Napoleon. A French diplomat and gourmand, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord set Careme a test, to produce a year’s worth of menu only using seasonal produce. Careme passed and Talleyrand adopted him into his kitchens.
After the fall of Napoleon, Careme moved to London in 1815 and he worked as a chef de cuisine for George IV. He left London 3 years later as he found the climate depressing and felt English chefs treated him badly due to the celebrity attention he received. With the money he made as a freelance chef, Carême opened his own pâtisserieon the Rue de la Paix during the winter of 1803-04. Its windows regularly showcased his pièce montées prompting travel guides to make it a recommended stop. He created these decorative centrepieces out of materials such as nougat, marzipan, sugar and pastry. Careme was inspired by architectural history and modelled many of his creations on temples, pyramids and ancient ruins. Some of his most famous creations include Gros Nougats, Grosses Meringues, Croquants (made with almonds and honey) and solilemmes (a bun like cake.)
The dessert Charlotte russe was invented by Marie Antoine Carême who named it in honor of his Russian employer Czar Alexander I. Russe being the French word for “Russian”.
Careme is also credited with inventing the French classic desert Napoleon Cake (Mille Feuille) while working as Napoleon’s chef. Napoleon like to eat Mille Feuille with strawberry favor, so it was named Napoleon cake. It has various flavours, from chocholate, strawbery, mango to berry.
Careme was also interested in Architecture and applied it to dessert with is very impressive pieces montees and other creations that fascinated his contemporaries. (See pictures below)
First of all, I would like to thank both Auguste and Careme’s effort for what they have done in the food industry especially in the culinary field. Because of them we can now use or apply the things and knowledge that they had contributed to us in the late 18th century. Without them just imagine what a normal Restaurant kitchen would be without Escoffier’s Kitchen Brigade System? I guess it would be a total chaos and what about Careme’s four Mother sauces and his architectural designs in desserts? Just think what would be like in many special occasions especially in weddings? Without these ideas nothing good will happen to us. I actually admire them because at a young age they manage to be determined in many obstacles in life, they strive for their dream of becoming a real someone that led them to be famous in the food industry. What if I or we can do the same things that they’d done? Maybe someday we can be someone just like them in the future.
Courtney from Study Moose
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