Alexis Soyer was a French chef who became famous in Victorian London in the 1830‘s. He was born February 4th 1810 at Meaux-en-Brie on the Marne in France. Soyer‘s parents were grocers but the family had fallen on bad financial times by the time of his birth. At the age of nine he moved to Paris to live with his brother Phillipe, an established chef.
Young Alexis was a quick learner and by the time he was 17 he had become a celebrated chef with 12 chefs under his guide. However, by the time he was 31, Soyer left for England to join his brother who was now working for the Duke of Cambridge. In 1837 he became chef de cuisine at the famous Reform Club in London. Soyer became well known for his kitchen designs and innovations, including cooking with gas and ovens with adjustable temperatures. In 1938,his salary was 1000 pounds a year….more than two thousand dollars, and his Lamb Cutlets Reform is still on the menu at the club.
Soyer took a leave from the Reform Club to help with the plight of the Irish during the potato famine of 1847. He invented a soup kitchen and… Continue reading
Choron was best known for inventing the Choron sauce. This, of course, is the béarnaise sauce enriched with tomato concentrate before reduction. Recipes will be included at the conclusion of this article. Perhaps his menu selections while chef de cuisine at the famous restaurant Vosin are most intriguing. On September 19, 1879 the Siege of Paris by the Prussians began. During the siege, Parisians were forced to eat animals such as cat, dog, and rat. The bourgeois did not want to dine this low on the food chain so demand at deluxe restaurants remained high. Since food reserves were getting more and more scarce, chefs had to improvise. Choron soon started serving exotic animal from the local zoo, and for the Christmas meal of 1870, served stuffed head of donkey, elephant consommé, roasted camel, kangaroo stew, bear shanks roasted in pepper sauce and several others to include antelope in truffle sauce. The famous wines served included Mouton –Rothchild, Romanee-Conti, and Chateau Palmer.
Choron was famous for his elephant dishes and he used many from various Paris zoos for his cuisine at Voisin purchased at 15 francs per pound. When elephant meat ran out, horse meat was substituted. So the next… Continue reading
Food & Business Tips
Alain Chapel was regarded as one of the finest French chefs. Born in Lyon in December 1937, he received his early training by working in the kitchen of his Father’s bistro and inn. After training in other local shops, Chapel worked with Fernand Point at “La Pyramide” in Vienne. In 1967, he returned to the family bistro, now a restaurant, and gained it a Michelin star. Upon the death of his father in 1970, Chapel opened the inn as a hotel and in 1973 he received his third Michelin star at the restaurant. At this time only 19 restaurants in France had received this highest of honours. Among his most famous dishes were stuffed calf’s ears with parsley and truffled-stuffed chicken in pork bladder .This was cooked in a rich chicken reduction stock. New York Times food writer, Craig Claiborne praised Chapel’s “gateau de foies blonds” as “one of the absolute cooking glories of this generation”. For the unfamiliar, this dish consisted of pureed chicken livers and beef marrow with a mousse-like lobster cream. A seven course meal was not uncommon. While these dishes do not reflect nouvelle cuisine as many chefs now think of it,… Continue reading
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer and politician, was born in 1775 in Bresse, a region well known for food and wine. He was among the first to write about cuisine and gained fame as an epicure and gastronome. A brilliant individual, Brilliat-Savarin studied law, chemistry and medicine in Dijon. As a politician he was first elected magistrate, then mayor of his town. He was forced to flee the country after the French Revolution, eventually making his way to New York where he supported himself by teaching French and giving violin lessons. He met Thomas Jefferson and persuaded him to part with his wild turkey recipe while visiting Philadelphia. Brillat- Savarin returned to France in 1776 where he was a judge and writer. The rest of his life was spent entertaining friends and dining at the finest French restaurants. A prolific journalist, his gastronomic memoirs filled many pages with recipes and anecdotes.
Brillanr –Savarin is most well known for his work, The Physiology of Taste, published in 1825, and the book has not been out of print since. The most noted English translation was done by M. F. K. Fisher, food writer and critic in 1949 and is held in… Continue reading
The French restaurateur Fernand Point (1897-1955) was the father of modern French cuisine and considered by many to be one of the greatest chefs ever.
His restaurant “La Pyramide” was located near Lyon, France in a small town. From this remote location he earned the three star Michelin Award and trained a generation of French Master chefs including Paul Bocuse and Alain Chapel . Point opened his restaurant shortly after World War I and pioneered many of the aspects of nouvelle cuisine.
As a small boy, he was introduced to cooking by his mother and grandmother, both cordons bleus cooks at his father`s restaurant. Cordon bleus originally referred to an award given to women chefs .Point moved to Lyon in 1922 to pursue his culinary endeavors. He built on the foundations of la grande cuisine and was the culinary and cultural intermediary between Escoffier and nouvelle cuisine. He would often work from five o`clock am until 11 o’clock hand.
Married in 1930, his wife Mary-Louise became an intricate part of the restaurant. She was in charge of service and attended to most all details associated with the business. This allowed Point time to concentrate even more on his remarkable cuisine… Continue reading