Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef

Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef

by Ruth Cowen

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Fascinating biography of a 19th-century celebrity chef

Rarely has a man defined the spirit of an age as well as Alexis Soyer: celebrity chef, best-selling author, entrepreneur, inventor, philanthropist and Crimean war hero. Soyer built the world famous kitchens of London's Reform Club - which he filled with such ingenious inventions as the gas stove and steam lifts. He set up the most innovative culinary theme park ever seen in the capital, and devised the sauces and relishes that would make household names of Mr Crosse and Mr Blackwell.

In the 1840s he set up revolutionary soup kitchens during the Irish potato famine, and in the following decade risked his life by travelling to the Russian peninsula to reform army catering for the troops - saving thousands of soldiers from the effects of malnutrition. Alexis Soyer was one of the most famous names of the early Victorian age, and his legacy lives on through the radical army reforms his work set in train. He was also ¿ in a similar spirit of the age - a secret womaniser, near bankrupt and alcoholic.

Yet this brilliant man, who during his lifetime was more famous than the men he regularly brushed shoulders with - men such as Thackeray, Disraeli, Dickens and Palmerston - dropped completely from public view after his untimely death. His friend Florence Nightingale, never one to praise lightly, wrote that his passing was 'a great disaster' for the nation. Yet despite making several fortunes he died virtually penniless, his personal papers were destroyed, his funeral was a hushed-up affair and today his grave lies neglected and rotting in Kensal Green cemetery.

This is the first full length, fully researched biography of Alexis Soyer, which explores the life, career and legacy of one of the most enigmatic and extraordinary figures of the Victorian age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780297865575
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group, Limited
Publication date: 12/16/2010
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Ruth Cowen is an historian, multi-award-winning author, journalist, broadcaster, editor and speaker. Her first book RELISH: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF ALEXIS SOYER, VICTORIAN CELEBRITY CHEF won the Jeremy Round First Book Award and the Guild of Food Writers Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the Glenfiddich Award and the Irish Book Awards. MILDRED RANSOM'S BUREAU will be published in 2022.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Preface to the New Edition xv

Prologue: 'To Her' 1

1 'The enfant terrible of Montmartre' 5

2 'A mere cook' 17

3 'The glory of the edifice' 31

4 'The messenger of death' 52

5 'Chérie, Chérie, Cerrito!' 69

6 'Cook and dress ten ears …' 88

7 'A broth of a boy' 108

8 'Our eyes sparkle and our palates yearn' 135

9 'Sir Oracle' 153

10 'The world his Club, his guests are universal' 176

11 'Its halls once more glitter' 200

12 'Vexation, disappointment and loss' 232

13 'Pro bono publico' 253

14 'Captain Cook' 282

15 'He has no successor' 310

Epilogue 323

Acknowledgements 326

Bibliography 329

Index 333

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