Auguste Escoffier, born on October 28th, 1846 in the small village of Villeneuve Loubet in Southern France, is best known as a culinary writer and French chef who revolutionized numerous French cooking techniques and ways that kitchens are effectively managed. His journey down the culinary works began at a young age of 13, when he became an apprentice under his uncle, an owner of a restaurant in Nice. Under his uncle, he showcased an amazing prowess for both cooking and effectively managing a kitchen, so much so that he was soon hired by the Hotel Bellevue.
His journey inevitably took him to work at many illustrious and well re-known restaurants scattered throughout Paris and London; however, soon after arriving in Paris in 1870, Escoffier was called in to serve in the military during the Franco-Prussian War; however, his culinary expertise still lived on as he worked as Chef de Cuisine during his service. His active military experience also gave him a great appreciation and knowledge regarding canned foods and canning techniques to preserve foods over extended periods of time. He would be the first person to analyze canning techniques in depth and ways to make them even more effective than they already were.
Upon return home from service, Escoffier continued to work in multiple restaurants, constantly sharpening his culinary skills and frequently rising in the ranks of the culinary world through his sheer mastery of exquisite yet simple cooking. During his time in Monte Carlo in 1884, however, he met Cesar Ritz , an owner of the Grand Hotel who appointed Escoffier to manage the kitchens. Together, the two were able to bring significant changes to the hotel industry, constantly improving and raising the bar on regarding hospitality and quality service.
In 1890, the two were contacted to work at the Savoy Hotel in London; here, Escoffier crafted one of his most well renowned recipes, the Peach Melba, a delicious dessert of peaches, raspberries, and creamy decadent vanilla ice cream. The dessert was inspired and in honor of Nellie Melba, an Austrian singer who was a guest at the hotel. Later on, Ritz opened up several hotels from the experiences, the most famous of which is the Carlton in London, which took on Escoffier as one of the head chefs and kitchen managers. The reason for Ritz detaching from the Savoy Hotel was rooted in a few disagreements with the Savoy Hotel hierarchy, but the decision was so successful that many high-end clientele were soon found to replace Savoy Hotel with Ritz new hotel establishments. And Escoffier’s culinary skills was a huge factor for attracting the high end crowds.
Escoffier’s achievements and reputable-ness didn’t just end here. His ingenious and elegantly simplistic way of cooking drove mass attention to his culinary craft. While most chefs around him relied on wasteful displays using garnishes or an abundance of sauces and overwhelming numbers of courses, Escoffier focused on simplicity and offering delicious foods that were well targeted and satisfying. He also greatly improved the efficiency at which kitchens can operate, doing away with what used to be wasted time and resources, as well as getting rid of redundant work in the kitchen.
Though he had far reaching impacts on the culinary world, Escoffier also made it a personal mission to give to the world of philanthropy, often creating programs to assist the poor and hungry in obtaining proper meals. His influence went as far to gain attention from the French Government, who offered Escoffier the distinction of Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur.
In 1921, Escoffier ultimately retired with his wife, Delphine Daffis, and died in 1935 in Monte Carlo.