History of George Auguste Escoffier
1846 - 1935
History of World Cuisines
Auguste Escoffier, was born in Villeneuve-Loubet,
France in 1846. He is considered by many
to be the father of modern day cuisine but is
probably best known for having created the dessert
Peach Melba for the singer Dame Nellie Melba.
However there is much more to this master chef.
Prior to Escoffier, great chefs were only to be found
in the kitchens of the nobility and royalty, but Escoffier was the first of the
master chefs to work directly for the public, and was never employed
in a private household. He started his career at the age of 12,
when he entered into apprenticeship at his uncle's
restaurant in Nice, after which he went on to another
apprenticeship in Paris at the age of 19.
At that time Grande Cuisine was composed of
very complicated recipes, the dishes being adorned
with rich sauces and garnishes which somewhat
obscured the main ingredients. However, Escoffier's
idea was to simplify
these extravagant dishes - a trend which was taken
up my the culinary world. He also changed the practice of serving
all the dishes at the same time ( à la française)
to serving each dish in the order printed on the
menu (service à la russe).
Whilst he was never employed directly by royalty or
the nobility, his time at high-class hotels such as
the Savoy, The Carlton House and The Ritz, found him cooking
for and praised by royalty, heads of states, and
many celebrities and in 1904, he even took charge
of the kitchen on board The Imperator - a ship used
by the German Imperial Family. It is reported
that the Emperor of Germany was so impressed with
the cuisine that he commented "I am the Emperor of
Germany, but you are the Emperor of Chefs".
His general philosophy on food had more far-reaching effects, in
particular with regards to hygiene and work
standards, which he found to be very poor in general.
At the time, chefs were not highly regarded and
it was Escoffier who made the profession more
respectable by instilling a sense of pride in his
subordinates. He also started the brigade system
in his kitchens which is
the practice of each section in the kitchen being
run by a chef de partie (section head chef). He was also one of the first
of the master chefs to take a true
interest in the nutritional value foods.
Escoffier went on to write many articles and books on cooking, the
most famous being Le Guide Culinaire and
Ma Cuisine and in 1920, he was awarded the Legion of
Honour for his services to French Cuisine.
Escoffier died aged 89 on February 12th, 1935 but in
gastronomy circles, his legend lives on with the
values he brought to to the art of cooking still in