Georges-Auguste Escoffier is in many ways considered the codifier of French cooking techniques. Born in 1846, Escoffier reformulated and modernized Marie-Antonin Careme’s style of Haute Cuisine. Not only did the king of chefs create landmark recipes for the five French mother sauces, but he also added modern recipes [to what?] to increase the renowned presence of France in the culinary world. Escoffier is known for simplifying complicated cooking techniques and making kitchens more efficient. He has been canonized for his 62 years of service in the food industry, which is still considered the longest career of any chef.
Escoffier was born in France in a village outside of Nice. He serves as a role model for many young aspiring chefs today, proving age couldn’t hold him back from his passion, when he began working in the kitchen at age 12. At this age he served as an apprentice at his uncle’s restaurant. In 1865, the young chef started working at a restaurant in Paris. Escoffier served as an army chef during the Franco-Prussian War beginning in 1870.
In 1890, Escoffier was put in charge of the kitchen at the Savoy Hotel in London. The Savoy began attracting wealthy and famous clientele, and Escoffier heightened his reputation by creating Peach Melba, a dish to honor the singer Nellie Melba during her stay at the hotel. In 1898, Escoffier moved to take over the kitchen at the Carlton Hotel, also in London. In 1913, Escoffier was put in charge of the kitchen on the SS Imperator, an enormous ocean liner transporting guests including Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The Kaiser famously called Escoffier the emperor of chefs, a quote which led the renowned chef to even more international acclaim.
Escoffier continued his leadership role at the Carlton Hotel until 1920. During his later life, he continued to run kitchens through World War I. Escoffier helped found the World Association of Chef Societies in 1928 and became the first president of the organization. Days after the death of his wife, Escoffier died in Monte Carlo at age 88. The date was February 12, 1935.
Escoffier published many cookbooks and kitchen guides over his lifetime. Some of the most important publications include:
- Le Guide Culinaire (1903)
- Le Livre des menus (1912)
- Le Carnet d’epicure (A monthly chef’s magazine published from 1911 to 1914)
- L’Aide-memoire Culinaire (1919)