1914 : Auguste Escoffier was sixty-eight years of age. He continued to direct the Carlton's kitchens. In spite of his small stature, he displayed the same energy and strength as had his father.
1919 : At the age of seventy-three, Escoffier decided to leave the Carlton and to retire to Monte Carlo and rejoin his wife. Escoffier, however, could not adapt himself to retirement. At Monte Carlo he met once again the widow of his friend Jean Giroix, with whom he worked at the Petit Mouline Rouge, and whose place he had taken at the Grand Hotel, Monaco. Escoffier accepted her proposal that he should collaborate with her in the administration of the Hotel de I'Ermitage. He also assisted in the development of the Riviera Hotel in Upper Monte Carlo.
1920? : On 22nd March, the Commander of the Legion of Honour and Director of Technical Education, conferred on Escoffier the Order of Officer of the Legion of Honour. Escoffier was the first chef to be honored.
Escoffier often composed menus himself when he knew the clients. When he did not know them, the head waiter would give brief indications of their nationality, of how many men and how many women made up the party, and of any preferences they had disclosed. This information enabled Escoffier to adapt the menu to suit the guests.
The first menu composed by Escoffier was on the 16 December 1897.
Escoffier introduced notable changes also in the presentation of his dishes and even in the actual choice of china. His primary consideration was the comfort of the client. He chose fine china, silver, linen and glassware which enhanced the superb food and wine. He introduced the most practical of kitchen utensils and those best suited to the quality of the cuisine.
1928 : Received the Rosette of an Officer of the Legion by the German Emperor William II.
1935 : On the 12th February, a few short days after the death of his wife, Escoffier died in his home, La Villa Fernand, 8 bis Avenue de la Costa, Monte Carlo in his eighty-ninth year. His remains are buried in the family vault at Villeneuve - Loubet. The house where he was born was transformed into a museum of culinary art in 1966, at the suggestion of one of his cooks.
At the beginning of Escoffier's career, cooking was not a profession held in high esteem. This was due partly to the laxity which could so easily creep in and also to the rigorous conditions of work. The cook spends the greater part of his time around the stove in overwhelming heat and in the midst of the smell of cooking, which, when concentrated, is sometimes almost unbearable. He works continuously without a moment's respite. For these reasons, in the mid-nineteenth century drinking was inevitably rife in the kitchen. Escoffier was quick to realise the risks in giving way to such excesses.
The cuisine suffered, the atmosphere in the kitchen suffered and the appearance of certain old cooks, undermined by years of work in such conditions and by their intemperance, gave his food for thought. He, with his small stature, was destined to suffer even more than others from the heat of the stoves. However, he never allowed himself to drink or smoke. He made it a point of honour to preserve his impeccable taste. Later, when he had become a chef, he called upon a famous doctor to invent a pleasant and healthy drink which would relieve the discomfort of cooks working in such conditions.
Thus in all the hotel kitchens which he planned, there was always a vast kettle containing a barley drink. This allowed Escoffier to prohibit the drinking of alcohol in the kitchen. In temperance also provoked vulgarity. There was swearing and shouting, and young apprentices were often brutally treated.' Escoffier fought first against professional slang and vulgarity of speech. Oaths and vulgar display of temper were no longer allowed. On his insistance there were to be no swearing and brutality of apprentices (as was the norm) and more thirst quenching drinks(non-alcoholic) were made available to combat the heat (beer and wine He himself would leave the kitchen rather than lose his temper with the staff.
Escoffier also insisted on the cleanliness of his employees during working hours, and also encouraged them to dress and behave better outside. He was concerned too, with his employee's educational status, and advised them to acquire the culture which their professional training, often began at a very early age, had prevented them from attaining.
The kitchen brigade as we know it of Chef de parties, was a system devised and implemented by Escoffier. Kitchens had for centuries been seperated into sections, but it was August who devised an organised system, to ensure there was no doubling up work and things properly organised. Escoffiers kitchens were said to be well run and organisedEscoffier introduced the genuine frying-pan into English Life.
He was also responsible for simplifying menus, instead of vast arrays of dishes served all at once; Service à la Française (as was the practice), it was Escoffier that wrote them down and served in the order they appeared; Service à la Russe.
"I well remember a shooting party given by one of my friends who owned a vast property in an exquisite valley of the Haute-Savoie. My friend had chosen this domain so that he could go there from time to time, far from the irritations of a too active life. It was the beginning of November, a period when the shooting offers particularly attractive sport, especially in these rather wild districts. About ten guests were assembled on the Thursday evening, and it was decided that at dawn the following morning we should all set out, dispersing as chance directed, in search of a few coveys of partridge. Our meal, that evening, was composed of a cream of pumpkin soup with little croutons fried in butter, a young turkey roasted on the spit accompanied by a large country sausage and a salad of potatoes, dandelions and beetroot, and followed by a big bowl of pears cooked in red wine and served with whipped cream. Next morning at the agreed hour, we were all ready, and furnished with the necessary provisions and accompanied by local guides, we climbed the rocky paths, real goat tracks, without too much difficulty and before long the fusillade began. It was those members of the party who had gone ahead who were opening the shoot by bagging two hares; the day promised to be fairly fruitful. And indeed so it turned out, since we were back at the house by about four o'clock, somewhat tired, but proud to count out: three hares, a very young chamois, eleven partridges, three capercailzies, six young rabbits, and a quantity of small birds. After a light collation, we patiently awaited dinner contemplating the while the admirable panorama which lay before us. The game which we had shot was reserved for the next day's meals.
Our dinner that evening consisted of a cabbage, potato, and kohlrabi soup, augmented with three young chickens, an enormous piece of lean bacon, and a big farmhouse sausage. The broth, with some of the mashed vegetables, was poured over slices of toast, which made an excellent rustic soup. What remained of the vegetables were arranged on a large dish around the chickens, the bacon, and the sausage; here was the wherewithal to comfort the most robust of stomachs, and each of us did due honour to this good family dish.To follow, we were served with a leg of mutton, tender and pink, accompanied by a puree of chestnuts. Then, a surprise-- but one which was not entirely unexpected from our host, who had an excellent cook--an immense, hermetically sealed terrine, which, placed in the middle of the table, gave out, when it was uncovered, a marvelous scent of truffles, partridges, and aromatic herbs. This terrine contained eight young partridges, amply truffled and cased in fat bacon, a little bouquet of mountain herbs and several glasses of fine-champagne cognac. All had been lengthily and gently cooked in hot embers. At the same time was served a celery salad. As for the wines, we had first the excellent local wine, then Burgundy, and finally a famous brand of champagne. The dinner ended with beautiful local fruit, and fine liqueurs.
The next day's luncheon was composed partly of the trophies of the previous day's shooting; the pure mountain air had advantageously taken the place of any aperitif; nor did we have any hors-d'oeuvre but instead, some char from the lac du Bourget, cooked and left to get cold in white wine from our host's own vineyards. These were accompanied by a completely original sauce, and here is the recipe: Recipe: Grated horseradish, mixed with an equal quantity of skinned walnuts finely chopped; a dessertspoon of powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, the juice of two lemons, enough fresh cream to obtain a sauce neither too thick nor too liquid. We all carried away with us the happiest memory of this beautiful country of Savoie and of the very hospitable welcome which we had received. For my part, I have never forgotten the sauce of horseradish and walnuts."
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