Georges-Auguste Escoffier (1847–1935)
Georges-Auguste Escoffier, the greatest chef of his time, is still today revered by chefs and gourmets as the father of twentieth-century cookery. His two main contributions were
- The simplification of classical cuisine and the classical menu, and
- The reorganization of the kitchen.
Escoffier rejected what he called the “general confusion” of the old menus, in which sheer quantity seemed to be the most important factor. Instead, he called for order and diversity and emphasized the careful selection of one or two dishes per course, dishes that followed one another harmoniously and delighted the taste with their delicacy and simplicity.
Escoffier’s books and recipes are still important reference works for professional chefs. The basic cooking methods and preparations we study today are based on Escoffier’s work. His book Le Guide Culinaire, which is still widely used, arranges recipes in a simple system based on main ingredient and cooking method, greatly simplifying the more complex system handed down from Carême.
A Guide to Modern Cookery
Learning classical cooking, according to Escoffier, begins with learning a relatively few basic procedures and understanding basic ingredients. Escoffier’s second major achievement, the reorganization of the kitchen, resulted in a streamlined workplace that was better suited to turning out the simplified dishes and menus he instituted.
The system of organization he established is still in use today, especially in large hotels and full-service restaurants. One of the world’s most expensive cookbooks ever sold is a rare first edition version of to “A Guide to Modern Cookery”, written by Auguste Escoffier, the French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer whose statue is in France. This book sold for $5,124, and bore the author’s signature and an inscription to Sarah Morgan who worked at the Cavendish Hotel.