The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer

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9780374316655: The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer

In 1837, when Alexis Soyer was just twenty-five years old, he became head chef at the exclusive Reform Club in London on the condition that he be allowed to participate in the design of the kitchen. The result was a showplace filled with Soyer's clever inventions, such as the drainer and the multi-egg poacher, and it became the most talked about kitchen in all of Europe. Soyer quickly established himself as a star, but for all his flamboyance he was practical and large-hearted, cooking for the starving populace as well as the aristocracy, opening soup kitchens during the Irish potato famine, and teaching the army how to feed itself in the Crimean War.

Filled with biographical detail and lively illustrations, The Adventurous Chef tells the story of a remarkable man who was determined to revolutionize the culinary world and who remains one of the greatest cooks of the nineteenth century.

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About the Author:

Ann Arnold has illustrated several books for children. She lives in Berkeley, California.

From Booklist:

Gr. 3-6. In this picture book for older children Arnold uses whimsical drawings and a lively text to introduce Alexis Soyer, one of the most accomplished and celebrated cooks in nineteenth-century Europe. She follows the chef's fascinating career, from his apprenticeship to his cooking for the aristocracy to his move to London's upper-crust Reform Club, where his cuisine and innovative kitchen designs brought him world renown. Arnold also includes insight into Soyer's wildly creative activities as a social reformer: he trained "charitable women" how to cook soup for the poor, wrote socially conscious cookbooks, created portable soup kitchens for the Irish during the potato famine, and completely revolutionized the way food was prepared for hospitals and the military (he cooked for the troops during the Crimean War). Unfortunately, there are neither source notes nor an author's note to support the well-shaped, animated text, which is filled with dialogue. But Arnold's clean-lined, watercolor-and-pen illustrations, several per page, sparkle with lavishly depicted banquets, close-ups of Soyer's inventions (including a cross-section of the elaborate Reform Club kitchen), and portraits of the chef that, like the narrative, give a sense of Soyer's complexity--his talent, energy, flamboyance, and heart. A unique, delightful offering that will work well with Alice Waters' Fanny at Chez Panisse (1993), which Arnold illustrated. Gillian Engberg
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