Auguste Escoffier, The Carlton, London 1909
The legendary chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, born in France in 1846, had an important gastronomic philosophy: keep it simple. This was unusual in the 19th century when eating was all about excess and extravagance to cover up poor standards of food preparation.
Escoffier made many revolutionary changes in restaurant kitchens. He simplified over-complicated dishes to let flavors shine through, introduced the concept of a disciplined and highly organized kitchen brigade and demanded standards of cleanliness that were then uncommon.
Escoffier began his career in France and then moved to London to run the kitchens at The Savoy Hotel, where he created many famous dishes and attracted an admiring and wealthy clientele, becoming the world’s first “celebrity”chef.
In 1899, he moved to the Carlton Hotel in London. This is a menu from that restaurant. If you have ever wondered what it must be like to dine at an Escoffier restaurant, this is the closest you will come to having that experience. The menu includes caviar, beef broth, lamb, quail, oysters, asparagus and Escoffier’s famous dessert creation Peach Melba.
The aristocratic lady in a wig and a large hat on the front of the menu, drawn in soft and muted colors, would have been a very sophisticated cover at the time.
Escoffier died in 1935 but his Le Guide Culinaire remains an influential textbook on cooking and chefs throughout the world continue to follow the rules he laid down.The dining room was a favorite of Winston Churchill's. The hotel was damaged by German bombs in 1940 and eventually demolished in 1957/8. The New Zealand High Commission now occupies the site and all that remains of the Carlton Hotel is a plaque commemorating the fact that the young Ho Chi Minh worked there in 1913.
Courtesy The Culinary Institute of America Menu Collection
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