About King of Cook - Work At Home


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

About King of Cook


This French man’s innovative dishes were sought after by kings, emperors, leading men and women of the high society, and by every taste bud around the world in the 19th century.  He was called ‘king of the cooks’ and ‘cook of the kings’. 

He was little known for many years until one day Prince Edward – VIII, the heir to the throne of England, came along with his close friends to have a meal at London’s most aristocratic hotel.  G.A. Escoffier was informed about the royal diner and immediately he set about preparing a dish which was never known to anyone.  The dish was served in French style.  Prince Edward after tasting it was utterly in awe of what it was made of; he wanted to know what that dish was and who made it.  Escoffier was brought to him and the rest was history:  This French dish made from frogs’ legs became popular throughout England.   The English hated the French for eating frogs; they thought it was barbaric and uncouth.  Escoffier, in a private moment with Prince Edward, told him that the frogs’ legs were poached in a while wine bouillon, steeped in an aromatic cream sauce, seasoned with paprika, tinted gold, covered with champagne and served cold.  Since then, the Prince often dined in the same hotel where Escoffier was the chef.

A.G. Escoffier combined unexpected ingredients, invented new flavors and was not afraid of trying new methods of cooking.   He often took simple, never-before-tried items and turned into a magical food.    He wanted everyone, irrespective of class and creed, to enjoy.  Though his clientele were mostly aristocrats, he wanted to devise something for the middle-class so that they, too, might enjoy his foods.  So he worked and studied the problem, and finally devised new dishes – on par with what he made for the aristocrats – for the common people. 

The main doctrine he preached time and again to his fellow cooks who were under his tutelage was this:  “Food should look like food”.   Escoffier made even a simple meal with much delicacy and efficiency; he never compromised on anything when it came to fine dining.  They were easily digestible and soft on the stomach.

During the war with Prussia, Escoffier cooked for the French soldiers, and when the regular meat – mutton, beef, chicken and pork – ran out, they were reduced to eating horses; horses that were killed in the battle.  The horse meat was less palatable because it was bitter and the soldiers complained about it.  Escoffier came to their rescue.  He took the horse meat and boiled it first and left it to cool (this process removed the bitterness in it) before giving the horse meat his magic touch.  He became popular with the soldiers.  Escoffier did not stop there, he went about devising plans to put food in cans so that the soldiers may eat when they like.  This method of canning foods was popularized by him.

Escoffier was cook par excellence.  His skill in cooking reached all parts of the world.  He spent days and weeks, experimenting with food.  He worked hard and demanded the same from his student cooks.  Strangely enough, he never tasted his dishes.  He had simple meals – soup, boiled rice, and fish.

One day when Prince Edward-VII asked whether he tasted the dishes he cooked, he said, “No need”.   Whenever he prepared something, he would put one finger to his nose and sniffed to check his dishes. 

In 1935 George Auguste Escoffier passed away at a grand old age of 89.  He left behind hundreds of dishes which the people around the world still relish and cherish.   Long live the king of cooks in our memory!!

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