Many people believe Auguste Escoffier is the king of chefs, though in actuality, he was the “successor” of the real king. Born in 1784 in France as Marie Antoine Careme, his parents abandoned him in 1794 when the French revolution was at its peak. He became a kitchen boy and an apprentice to Sylvain Bailly, who was a famous pâtissier. Not long after that, he opened his own shop called the Patisserie de la rue de la Paix which he maintained until 1813.
Careme is most famous for his centerpieces that would be displayed at the window of his shop. The structures would imitate ancient ruins or temples and even pyramids stacked several feet high. The centerpieces would be made out of food stuff such as sugar, marzipan and pastry, thus the famously known Croquembouche which he created.
His work was renowned across France and he worked as a freelancer to create pieces for French Diplomats, such as Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. He was also hired by Napoleon himself. Other royals he had served was George IV and the Tsar Alexander I, however he never really prepared a meal for the Tsar for he lived very briefly in St. Petersburg.
One of his greatest accomplishments was when Talleyrand gave Careme a test of planning a year worth of menus and the courses cannot be repetitive. He passed the test and ended his training in the Talleyrand kitchens. And, he also created the chef’s hat, the famous “toque” we use today. He even classified all sauces into groups based on the four main sauces (mother sauces) and replaced the art of serving all dishes to serving dishes at a time according to the menu. Escoffier later on developed the classifications and the methods of cooking with modernity which made him the father of the culinary arts.
Careme is a legendary chef that is not well known in our society today. So let’s remember him and recognize his influence in the culinary arts.