The People's Chef: Alexis Soyer, A Life in Seven Courses

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9780470869925: The People's Chef: Alexis Soyer, A Life in Seven Courses

During the first half of the nineteenth century, Alexis Soyer, a Frenchman from Meaux, was the most famous cook in London. A combination of chance, talent and social conscience took him into many of the great events of his time. Born in 1810, he cooked his was through the Paris July Days in 1830; he oversaw the building of London's most modern kitchen at the Reform Club, where he ran the kitchen from 1837-1850; he designed a model soup-kitchen which he took to Ireland, at the Lord Lieutenant's request, during the 1847 famine; he opened London's first Parisian-type restaurant in conjunction with the Great Exhibition in 1851; and in 1855, he went to the Crimea to take over the running of the kitchens in Florence Nightingale's hospital at Scutari. When he died in 1858, Soyer was helping Miss Nightingale reform British army catering.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap:

Here is the first half of the nineteenth century seen through the bottom of a saucepan. The book is arranged as a dinner party, the different courses (all cooked by the author) taken from Soyer's various recipe books. Each course is correct for its place in the dinner, but is also chosen for its relevance to the subjects discussed in the chapter in question. What were the differences between French and English food at this time, and what caused them? Why did the French favour restaurants, while the English preferred clubs? What did the very poor eat, and why did the Irish starve rather than eat the fish that teemed all around them? What was the position of a chef in society - was he an artist, which was how Soyer saw himself, or just a servant? Why did Soyer so energetically take up the cause of the poor? Was it because he himself had been born poor and knew what it was like? Or because he was a Protestant, and Protestants in France at that time were radicals and outsiders? What did the men eat in the Crimea? Why was the French army there so much better organised than the English?

From the Back Cover:

During the first half of the nineteenth century, Alexis Soyer, a Frenchman, was the most famous cook — and one of the most famous men — in London. A combination of chance, talent and energetic social conscience took him into many of the great events of his times. He cooked his way through the Paris July Days in 1830; saw the Captain Swing riots in the English countryside in 1832, when he was cook in a great country house; oversaw the building of London's most modern kitchen at the Reform Club, where he was chief cook from 1837 to 1850; designed a model soup-kitchen which he took to Ireland during the 1847 famine; opened London's first Parisian-type restaurant in conjunction with the Great Exhibition in 1851; and in 1855 went to the Crimea to take over the running of the kitchens in Florence Nightingale's hospital at Scutari.

The People's Chef, part cookbook, part biography and part history, is worthy of its charming and highly original hero.

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