Auguste Escoffier

auguste escoffier

Auguste Escoffier [es-kaw-fyey] (1846 – 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 gourmands, 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’ —though this had also been previously said of Carême), 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. His 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.

In 1897, César Ritz and Escoffier were both dismissed from the Savoy Hotel. Ritz and Escoffier were implicated in the disappearance of over £3400 of wine and spirits, and Escoffier had been receiving gifts from the Savoy’s suppliers. 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 clientele away from the Savoy.

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