Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef & the Rise of the Leisure Class

Luke Barr. Clarkson Potter, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8041-8629-2
In this entertaining culinary history, Barr (Provence, 1970) narrates the lives of the two men responsible for democratizing high-end dining at the turn of the 20th century. In 1889, Richard D’Oyly Carte, an impresario known for his work with Gilbert and Sullivan, opened the Savoy Hotel in central London. The Savoy was intended to fill a new niche: luxury available to anyone who could pay for it, as opposed to being confined to the aristocracy. To this end, D’Oyly Carte hired César Ritz, a fashionable hotelier, and the renowned chef Georges Auguste Escoffier. Barr follows Ritz and Escoffier through the years of their professional partnership, during which the Savoy redefined both hotel service and French cuisine (Escoffier established a new kitchen ethos: “respect for the chef, respect for the ingredients, respect for the artistry of cooking”). Financial scandals (D’Oyly Carte kept from the shareholders the high salaries paid to his staff) and personal squabbles lend drama to the narrative, and nearly every celebrity of the era plays at least a bit part. Barr’s prose is lively and his sourcing impeccable, even if he takes liberties in ascribing thoughts and feelings to his characters. Barr offers a thoroughly enjoyable look into a defining moment of culinary history. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 04/03/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-4976-4
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8041-8631-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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