Auguste Escoffier: Chef Extraordinaire
Quote for Today: Success is the sum of a lot of small things done correctly. Escoffier
On this day in history 1846 Auguste Escoffier
was born in Southeastern France. He is regarded as one of the greatest chefs of the last century if not for all time. Escoffier furthered the work of great chef Marie Antoine Carême
, notably codifying the Mother Sauces*.
Escoffier simplified and modernized the elaborate work that Carême had done. The advancement in technology along with the upper classes gathering outside the home to eat rather than having lavish dinner parties, gave Auguste some challenges. Simplifying recipes and presentation were two, but leading a large crew was another.
Escoffier developed a brigade type system in his kitchens much like the ranks of the military. Each section of the kitchen had their responsibilities and all had to be working in unison to get the desired results. This system is seen today in virtually all commercial kitchens both large and small.
Escoffier was fortunate to have been in the right place and time to hook-up with the hotel genius Cesar Ritz. The two put together the beautiful Savoy Hotel in London where you can still hang your hat today. Though long since past, his presence is still seen on their menu today as is his influence in virtually every kitchen in the world. The Escoffier Cookbook is on the shelves of most chef’s, foodies, and anyone else obsessed with cooking. In order to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America you formerly had to pass through the Escoffier Room before commencement. Anthony Bourdain claimed it was a trip through hell. Today, the restaurant has been renovated and replaced with the Bocuse Room named after Paul.
* Here in the South, the five mother sauces consist of beef gravy, chicken gravy, white (plain) gravy, mater sauce and Aunt Henrietta’s citified holiday sauce.
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