Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class
By Luke Barr
I recently read this novel, and it was engrossing from start to finish. As someone who adores hospitality and fine dining, this novel was an enlightening take on several now established practices and places that occupy the culinary and luxury worlds. Before marketing in hospitality, there was Ritz and Escoffier- two names that needed no introduction.
Written by Luke Barr, this extensively researched novel reads more like a story, and that adds to its benefit. Uncovering the story behind Swiss hotelier César Ritz (1850-1918) and French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), and how they established the London Savoy as a force to be reckoned with, the story is never plodding.
The formidable duo established some of the most well-known practices followed by restaurants and hotels today, including the kitchen brigade system, and their union proved a very fruitful one.
Their work together defined not only London’s dining culture, but introduced changes in the very fabric of the European social customs.
What set the duo apart was their willingness to serve anyone- especially the looked down upon ‘nouveau riche’ who could afford the various fancies they catered to. With extravagant 15 course meals, and hotel rooms boasting electricity and attached restrooms (a novelty of the time), they soon became the toast of the town- before their fall from grace.
The years that followed saw the establishment of the renowned Ritz hotel, the patronage of well-established figures like the Prince of Wales and an unexpected tragedy that ground things to a halt for Ritz.
A tantalizing tale filled with eminent personalities, decadent landscapes, mouth watering menus and glitz and glamour, this tale is also a beautiful tapestry of the way society changed due to Escoffier and Ritz and their talents.
Definitely worth checking out, just to truly know what the word ‘ritzy’ means! Get the book here
Rating: 3 / 5