Preferred Citation: Metzner, Paul. Crescendo of the Virtuoso: Spectacle, Skill, and Self-Promotion in Paris during the Age of Revolution. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1998 1998.

Carême, Chef de Cuisine

2. Carême, Chef de Cuisine

Marie-Antoine Carême (1783–1833)

Like a caffeine-induced vision, out of the small cup of black liquid swirled the tranquil coffeehouse, then the serious chess game in a circle of enthusiasts, then again the thronged simultaneous blindfold exhibition of two, three, four, eight, sixteen,…eventually fifty-six chess games played con-currently and purely mentally, projecting the infinite expandability of the human mind. Early in this spiraling of the imagination, Montesquieu had written: “Coffee is very popular in Paris: there are a large number of public houses where it is sold. In some of these houses, the news is discussed; in others, chess is played. There is one where the coffee is prepared in such a way that it bestows wit on those who drink it; at least there is no one who leaves the place without believing himself four times as intelligent as he was when he entered.” [1] A few decades later, when there were a still larger number of such “public houses,” the Encyclopédie, after pointing out that partakers of café had extended the meaning of the word from the drink itself to the places where they consumed it, characterized the cafés of Paris as “factories of wit, both good and bad.” [2] Almost forgotten in the proliferation of cafés was the fact that their existence was predicated on gustatory, not mental, excitement.

Cafés constituted just one of many sorts of eating and drinking establishments that percolated through eighteenth-century Paris. Restaurants constituted another sort, a new one if we define them as places where one can order a meal from a range of choices at a range of times and eat it on the premises. About 1765, people rounding the corner of the rue Bailleul and the rue des Poulies, just a few blocks east of the Café de la Régence, passed by the innovator’s sign: “Boulanger débite des restaurants divins” (Boulanger sells divine restaurants). Boulanger was originally a soup vendor and certain soups were known as restaurants—literally, “restoratives.” The Encyclopédie defined restaurant as “a medical term; it is a remedy whose purpose is to give strength and vigor.” Thanks to Boulanger and his imitators, these soups moved from the category of remedy into the category of health food and ultimately into the category of ordinary food. Since the Encyclopédie listed among its examples of restaurants not only soups, but also arugula, herbal teas, and chocolate, all of which are ordinary food today, this process has clearly repeated itself. As with café, with restaurant the name of the featured commodity soon became as well the name of the sort of place that featured it. Diderot wrote to his mistress concerning the new trend: “Have I acquired a taste for the restaurant? Yes, indeed, a boundless taste. One eats well there, a bit expensively, but at the hour of one’s choosing.” [3] Almost forgotten in the spread of restaurants was the fact that their existence was predicated on health, not gustatory, requirements.

Portrait of Carême. Courtesy of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Photograph by Justin Davis-Metzner.

In a familiar pattern, the meaning of cuisine expanded from “cooking” to “kitchen,” the place where it is done. Then it expanded further, for the Encyclopédie defined cuisine, or rather “cuisine par excellence,” as “the secret, reduced to systematic knowledge, of inducing people to eat more than what is necessary; since the cuisine of temperate people and the poor refers only to the most ordinary skill of preparing food in order to satisfy one’s bodily needs.” As indicated by this quotation from the article “Cuisine,” written by the chevalier de Jaucourt, the philosophes drew a distinction between haute cuisine, the cuisine based on excess, and ordinary cuisine, the cuisine based on health. Voltaire wrote that “a good cook is also a fine doctor.” The articles on food subjects in the Encyclopédie commended plain fare and moderation:

Hippocrates recommended simple preparations. He advocated attempting to make dishes healthy, to prepare them in such a way as to facilitate digestion. We are a long way from that and one can even assert that nothing is more rare, especially on well-furnished tables, than healthy food.…One can almost assert that there are two sorts of people in society: some, our domestic chemists, who work unceasingly to poison us, and others, our doctors, to cure us; and there is a disparity in that the former are much more accomplished than the latter.

Voltaire concurred:

There are quite old and quite good foods that used to keep all the wise men of antiquity in good health.…I cannot tolerate sweetbreads swimming in a spicy sauce that rises an inch above the poor little sweetbread. I cannot eat a hash composed of turkey, hare, and rabbit that is intended to pass for a single sort of meat.…As for cooks, I cannot tolerate the essence of ham nor the excess of morels, mushrooms, pepper, and nutmeg with which they disguise dishes perfectly healthy in themselves and that I would prefer to see not even larded.

Diderot, too, advocated the simple provisions of Nature; naturally, “Rameau’s nephew” disagreed:


A poor table.


It’s abundant.


But badly presented.


It is, however, the one we all take from, in order to furnish our own.


But you have to admit that the efforts of our cooks, bakers, broilermen, caterers, and confectioners add something to it. Your Diogenes, with his austere diet, must not have had very rebellious intestines.


You’re mistaken.

Exasperated by “Rameau’s nephew” and his rejection of the virtues of austerity, Diderot calls him “a lazy bum, a gourmand, a coward, and a base soul,” as if “gourmand” had the same negative value as the other three characterizations. Rousseau expressed disgust with the sort of Frenchman who might “die of hunger abroad if he did not take with him in his entourage a French chef” because he believes that “one knows how to eat only in France.…As for myself, I would say on the contrary that it is only the French who do not know how to eat, since they had to develop a special art to make their food palatable to them.” Almost forgotten in the development of French haute cuisine, the philosophes wanted to point out, was the fact that the existence of cuisine was predicated on health, not artistic, considerations.[4]

Thus, the development of French haute cuisine consisted of the expansion of cuisine into an art and the concomitant neglect of cuisine as an aspect of health. When and how did haute cuisine, cooking as an art, develop in France?

The philosophes had ideas about that, too. According to the interpretation of history presented by the Encyclopédie, haute cuisine was introduced into France from Italy during the Renaissance, like so many other innovations in the arts. Jaucourt blamed in particular Caterina de’ Medici—whose name translates as “Catherine of the doctors”—Queen of France in the second half of the sixteenth century, and the chefs she brought with her to Paris from Florence. This explanation predominated for the next two hundred years, although sometimes blame became credit and sometimes Caterina became Maria de’ Medici, Queen of France in the early seventeenth century. Montaigne may have contributed to the myth with an anecdote recounted in his essay “De la vanité des paroles” (On the Vanity of Words). The anecdote, cited by Jaucourt, tells of a conversation Montaigne had with the steward of an Italian nobleman’s house:

I asked him about his responsibilities and he delivered a discourse on the science of the gullet with magisterial gravity and bearing, as if he had been expounding some important point of theology. He spelled out for me the different kinds of appetite: the one we have before eating and the one we have after the second or third course; the means of simply satisfying it and the means of arousing and stimulating it; the organization of sauces, first in general and then the qualities of the ingredients and the effects of each in particular; the different kinds of salad according to the season, those which should be heated and those which should be served cold, and how they should be garnished and presented in order to make them more appealing to the eye. After that, he went into the order of the courses.[5]

Nowadays historians of French cuisine generally date the beginning of haute cuisine from the third quarter of the seventeenth century and largely discount the Italian influence. The principal form of evidence is cookbooks. Few cookbooks seem to have been published in France in the first half of the seventeenth century. Suddenly, in the 1650s and 1660s, a cascade of cookbooks fell from the presses. Then came another drought that lasted until the 1730s, 1740s, 1750s, and 1760s, during which another flood took place. This apparent alternation between droughts and floods becomes even more pronounced when one looks at the production not of all cookbooks, including reissues, but of just new cookbooks. Reducing the field of observation from all cookbooks to just new cookbooks increases the drought preceding the first flood from a half to an entire century.[6]

Of still greater significance, however, is the fact that the new cookbooks of the third quarter of the seventeenth century revealed a substantial number of changes and innovations in French cuisine since manuscript and early printed cookbooks had last presented it in written form. The new cuisine was distinguished by these features: a decreased use of the spices of the “East Indies” that had become so coveted since regular global trade began in the late fifteenth century; an increased use of indigenous French flavorings, such as herbs, wild mushrooms, and various bulbs of the onion family; a decreased use of large birds such as swans, storks, herons, and peacocks; an increased use of small birds such as wood-cocks, ortolans, thrushes, and larks; a decreased use of wild game in general and an increased use of meat from domestic animals; a greater discrimination among cuts of meat and a smaller range of cuts considered desirable; the frequent use of butter where formerly lard would have been called for; directions to cook meats only to rare or medium rare and vegetables not so long as to remove all their crispness; directions to cook the various ingredients in complicated dishes separately and then to combine them afterward rather than to cook them all together in one big pot; an aesthetic that aimed at highlighting and intensifying individual flavors rather than mixing or masking them; the introduction of roux as a thickener; and the systematization of culinary knowledge into fonds de cuisine—basic building blocks such as roux, beef bouillon, and mayonnaise, and preparations incorporating them.[7] The authors of the most popular cookbooks of the 1650s and 1660s, which presented these new practices and helped to inaugurate haute cuisine, were François-Pierre de La Varenne, Nicolas de Bonnefons, and Pierre de Lune.

The idea of progress was beginning to waft into the kitchen as early as 1674, the publication date of L’Art de bien traiter (The Art of Good Entertaining) by “L. S. R.,” who wrote in his preface:

I know well that with new things it is not easy to please everyone and that, just as with personalities, tastes differ. But if one makes the comparison, if one takes the trouble to reflect on the subject that I am treating today in a way that is completely opposed to that which several old authors have spoken of it, one will not be able to disagree with me, indeed one will admit that I am right to reform this old and disgusting manner of preparing food, and of serving it, whose unsuitability and whose backwardness are only productive of pointless and uneconomical expenses, excessive and disorderly profusion, and embarrassing superfluities, which have no advantages and confer no honor.

L. S. R. even criticized La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier françois (The French Cook), which had been published only two decades earlier: “One will not see here the absurdities and disgusting lessons that M. de [La] Varenne has dared to advocate and to give, and with which he has so long deceived and lulled silly and ignorant people, passing off on them his inventions as so many infallible truths.” [8] L. S. R. seems to have been articulating an as yet incompletely formulated notion of progress or perfectability in the art of cooking.

The advocates of the “nouvelle cuisine”—the term is their own—of the 1730s and subsequent decades had a more developed, and different, sense of culinary history. Vincent La Chapelle wrote in the preface to The Modern Cook (1733): “A cook of genius will invent new delicacies to please the palates of those for whom he is to labour; his art, like all others, being subject to change: for should the table of a great man be served in the taste that prevailed twenty years ago, it would not please the guests, how strictly soever he might conform to the rules laid down at that time. This variation in cookery is the reason for my publishing the ensuing work.” Similarly, the introduction to François Marin’s Les Dons de Comus (The Blessings of Comus, 1739), a book designed “for the use of people who are desirous of knowing how to give dinners…according to the seasons, and in the very latest taste,” distinguished between “old cuisine” and “modern cuisine”: “Old cuisine is that which the French made fashionable all over Europe and which was generally practiced not even twenty years ago. Modern cuisine, built on the foundations of the old, but with less awkwardness and less apparatus, and with as much variety, is simpler, cleaner, and perhaps even more scientific.” [9] By the time of the “nouvelle cuisine,” as the term itself almost implies, some of the leading chefs had become aware that cuisine experienced changing fashions, just as dress and music did.

The leading chefs of haute cuisine also had a new consciousness of their own importance. Already in 1651, La Varenne, dedicating Le Cuisinier françois to his employer, the marquis d’Uxelles, wrote in an access of pride: “I have learned in your household, during ten years of employment, the secret of preparing refined dishes. I dare to say that I have practiced this profession to the approbation of princes, marshals of France, and a host of individuals of rank.” In fact, the members of the upper aristocracy now discussed the leading chefs among themselves and competed to employ them, as chefs and as maîtres d’hôtel—better known in English as butlers, who had the oversight of the kitchen and dining room as their chief responsibility. The marquise de Sévigné, whose letters have become part of the French literary canon, immortalized one Vatel in them: “Vatel, the great Vatel, maître d’hôtel to M. Fouquet, and presently to M. the Prince [de Condé], the man with an ability unlike anyone else’s, whose excellent head was capable of keeping track of all the cares of a nation; this man then, whom I knew, learning this morning at eight o’clock that the fish [for a state dinner] had not arrived, could not stand the disgrace that was going to engulf him and, in a word, stabbed himself.” [10]

It is curious that the three cookbook authors of the 1650s and 1660s generally singled out as inaugurators of haute cuisine have names containing the particle “de,” which often indicates nobility. It was not unusual for a maître d’hôtel, the head of the household staff with the authority of command, to have been an impoverished nobleman forced to find employment, functioning more as an administrator than as a servant, and still wearing his épée.[11] None of the three cookbook authors, so far as we know, worked as a maître d’hôtel: Pierre-François de La Varenne identified himself as écuyer de cuisine (kitchen steward) to the marquis d’Uxelles, Nicolas de Bonnefons as premier valet (first valet) to Louis XIV, and Pierre de Lune as écuyer de cuisine to the duc de Rohan and then to the marquis de Mauregart. But they occupied high positions in the servant ranks; they were literate, a fact of some significance in the seventeenth century; and their employers perched atop or near the top of the social hierarchy. These circumstances all contribute to the plausibility of their having been poor relations of nobility, which, if true, would undoubtedly have contributed to their sense of self-worth and personal honor.

The conquest of the European aristocracy by French haute cuisine had begun by the turn of the eighteenth century. A French traveler in England at that time reported: “There are some noblemen that have both French and English cooks, and these eat much after the French manner.” La Chapelle, a leader of the nouvelle cuisine of the 1730s, first published The Modern Cook in England, where he worked for the Earl of Chesterfield. He later published an expanded French edition in the Netherlands, where he worked for the prince of Orange. In the mid-century novel Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, that most English of authors, referred to Clouet, the French chef of his patron the Duke of Newcastle, as “the best cook which the present age, or perhaps that of Heliogabalus, hath produced!” In the 1750s and 1760s, Frederick the Great had a French chef named Noël of whom he was so fond that he wrote a poem in his honor, calling him “the Newton of cuisine.” One of Noël’s pâtés, however, killed the philosophe La Mettrie, whom Frederick had invited to Berlin to join his Academy of Sciences. La Mettrie was the notorious materialist who concluded that “man is a machine”; among other arguments, he adduced the fact that certain foods have predictable effects on people’s moods and behavior: “What power there is in meal!” Noël’s father was also a chef and like the mythical Père Noël—Father Christmas—famous for distributing goodies throughout Europe, but not without prior payment. By the 1790s, according to the English travel writer Arthur Young, “every man in Europe, that can afford a great table, either keeps a French cook, or one instructed in the same manner.” [12]

As it was becoming an art, and a widely recognized one, French cuisine was also becoming important enough to have a history. From the outside, the Encyclopédie imposed a superficial, mythical history on it; from the inside its practitioners were becoming increasingly aware that it had been undergoing a progressive development. Finally, in 1782, Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Le Grand d’Aussy published what was probably the first book-length study of the history of French cuisine, his three-volume Histoire de la vie privée des français (History of French Private Life). Le Grand d’Aussy had originally planned to cover the history of housing, dress, and pastimes as well, but found so much to say about cuisine that he never got to any of his other topics.[13]

Carême was born the following year.[14] Thus, when he entered the kitchen as a boy, chefs had for some time been thinking of themselves as artists but had only just begun to think of themselves as situated in the history of cuisine.

Over the course of his life Carême wrote his given name variously: Marie-Antoine (the masculine form of Marie-Antoinette), just Antoine, Marie-Antonin, Antonin, and, in one case, Marc-Antoine (Mark Antony).[15] He invariably spelled his family name “Carême,” the same as the French word for Lent, the season of abstinence and restraint, especially in eating.

A story Carême told and retold as an adult tells us all that we know about the chef’s early childhood in Paris. His secretary, Frédéric Fayot, recorded the most complete version of it that has survived:

His parents, who had had twenty-five children, lived in the most abject poverty; his father [an unskilled laborer] frequently got drunk, perhaps out of disgust with life, and the irregularities of his conduct increased the misery and the distress of those for whom he was responsible. One Monday he came home before dinnertime and took his young son out for a walk. They went out of the city into the fields. After the walk, they came back in through the Maine gate, near which they ate dinner. At the end of the meal, the father spoke to the poor child of his future, which was to be divorced from that of the family. “Go, my little one, go now; there are good trades in the world; leave us, misery is our lot; this will be an age of many fortunes [the Revolution was under way]; all that is required to make one is intelligence, and you have that.…This evening or tomorrow, perhaps, some good place will welcome you. Go with what God has given you.”…The young Carême was left in the street, quite literally. He never saw his parents again; his mother and father died some years later; his brothers and sisters dispersed.[16]

A tavern owner, nameless despite having given the eleven- or twelve-year-old Carême his first break in life, took him in that same evening. And the next day he offered the boy a job. Thus did fate whisk Carême into French cuisine, broadly speaking.

He worked for a few years in the tavern; then, at the age of about fifteen, in about 1798, he moved to a restaurant. Two years later, around 1800, he moved again, this time to Bailly’s patisserie, known as one of the best in Paris, on the rue Vivienne, just north of the Palais-Royal. Carême later recollected that when he was around eighteen years old he began to make regular trips to the library, for which Bailly gave him leave from work, to his lasting gratitude. After three years, around 1803, he left Bailly.

More important than the dates is what Carême was learning then. He implied that he left home barely literate. According to Fayot, he began at the age of thirteen to study at night, teaching himself to read and write. Later he discovered the Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library), where he went only occasionally at first, but eventually twice a week. Travel books in particular seem to have attracted him; at the beginning he had difficulty following the text, but he loved the engravings. He was probably fluent in reading, writing, and drawing by the time he left Bailly’s establishment at about twenty. While working for Bailly, his trips to the library concentrated on drawing. He sketched pictures of buildings, to be used as models for his pièces montées, large decorative centerpieces made of pastillage, a paste concocted from edible substances, principally sugar. He made a smooth transition from travel books to books on architecture through his interest in buildings, and he maintained his taste for the exotic while also reading up on the classical European styles. Of course, the principal skills Carême developed at Bailly’s were those of a pastry cook. The establishment was a patisserie, and Carême was learning to be a pâtissier; it was only later that he learned to cook the other courses of a meal, to be a cuisinier, too. Chez Bailly, Carême rose to the rank of premier tourtier (first piemaker). He had gone as far as he could go, working for someone else.

Carême always attributed his success to hard work. Concerning this period of his life, he boasted:

I succeeded in my plans; but how many nights I stayed up in order to do so!—because I could only really devote myself to my sketches after the work [at Bailly’s] was finished, after nine or ten o’clock at night. I worked for myself three-quarters of the night; and when I saw that I had a dozen different designs, all suitable for my large pièces montées, I wanted to have twenty-four, then fifty, and then one hundred; finally I completed two hundred, each one more original than its predecessor while remaining easy to execute in pastry. Such was the fruit and the happy result of three years of application, of laborious and assiduous study.

Bailly’s was no ordinary patisserie. It concentrated on catering, and in that domain its reputation and its pastry had risen to the level of highsociety balls and state banquets. These special events were called extraordinaires, or simply extras. Thus working for Bailly offered a wonderful opportunity to gain recognition in high places. Carême’s chance came when Bailly began to allow him to construct what he had been designing. Up to two feet across and four feet tall, his pièces montées usually represented buildings, for example, pyramids, temples, lighthouses, or classical ruins, but some of them also depicted scenes from nature, for example, waterfalls, cliffs, or palm trees, and a variety of other objects, for example, vases, lyres, baskets. Both Talleyrand, the minister of foreign affairs, and Napoleon, the first consul, regularly called upon Bailly’s services, and Fayot avers that some of Carême’s centerpieces were “destined for the table of the consul.” [17] Carême was making his first entry into history.

The months immediately following his departure from Bailly were a period of transition for Carême. He went to work as the “chef for the successor of Gendron” on the understanding that he would be free to take time off to work on extras. The phrase “the successor of Gendron” probably means that the person who bought Gendron’s business also acquired the right to continue to use his name. Gendron’s patisserie, in the Palais-Royal, dated from before the Revolution, when it was already gaining renown. Carême’s own name on a pastry shop would eventually also attain a certain value, and the right to its use was sold thirty-four years after his death by his daughter and son-in-law, who had inherited it from him.[18] Thus, he began dividing his time between the patisserie where he was the chef, but still only an employee, and extras, where he was an independent artisan. He was detaching himself from the names of well-known chefs and beginning to make his own name.

The period in which Carême learned to wield the copper saucepan of haute cuisine was also the period in which its lid blew off. In 1803 the celebrated food writer Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de La Reynière reflected on the changes of the previous decade and a half:

There had to emerge a new art. That of the chef was up to this point only a simple craft: concentrated in a small number of opulent residences, belonging to the world of the court, of finance, of public administration, they exercised in obscurity their useful talents, and the number who could appreciate them was rather circumscribed. The Revolution, ruining all these former property owners, threw all the good chefs out onto the pavement. At that point, in order to make use of their talents, they transformed themselves into merchants of good cheer under the name of restaurateurs. One could not have counted a hundred of them before 1789. Today, there are perhaps five times as many.

Over a slightly longer period of time the number of cafés in Paris more than doubled, according to other sources, from approximately 1,800 in 1788 to approximately 4,000 by 1807. Unfortunately we have no figures for prerevolutionary patisseries, but Carême says their numbers were small in comparison with the 258 in Paris in 1815; it seems likely that their proliferation paralleled that of restaurants and cafés. They also underwent a transformation: “Before the Revolution no one would have thought of displaying their pâtés and brioches in glass cases as they do today,” Grimod observed. All in all, he estimated that for every ten new shops that opened in early-nineteenth-century Paris, four had to do with “gourmandise.” His gastronomical survey concluded: “To a man absent from this capital since 1789, it presents itself as an entirely new city.” [19]

This boom had manifold causes. For one, guild regulations had severely restricted commerce before the Revolution. Only limonadiers, members of the guild licensed to sell liquor by the glass, could legally do so; only cafetiers could sell coffee by the cup; only aubergistes (innkeepers) could sell prepared food for on-premises consumption; only traiteurs (caterers) could sell certain kinds of prepared food for off-premises consumption; and so on, up to around two dozen guilds in the food-service sector alone. Boulanger, the restaurant pioneer, was legally a soup vendor; that is, he was in the guild whose members had the exclusive right to sell soup to take away. When he expanded his repertoire from restaurants (soups) to ragoûts (stews), the caterers sued. Successfully arguing that his stews were only especially thick soups, Boulanger won the case.[20] Since restaurateurs before the Revolution also offered food to be eaten on their own premises, one wonders how they fought off the advocates of the innkeepers. In 1791 the revolutionary government did away with the guilds and the regulations surrounding them, instituting the system of laissez-faire.

Two years before that important event, a more famous one, the fall of the Bastille, marked the beginning of the emigration of the nobility out of France. As Sébastien Mercier pointed out a few years before his friend Grimod: “The cooks of princes, of counselors to the parlement, of cardinals, of canons, and of farmers general, did not remain a long time out of employ after the emigration of the imitators of Apicius. They became restaurateurs, and advertised that they were going to prefer and practice, for whoever would pay, the ‘science of the gullet,’ as Montaigne says.” It is interesting that the highest nobility had employed the chefs whose restaurants became the most prestigious: Either the chefs carried the prestige of their former positions with them into their new establishments or the upper nobility had had the taste and the inclination—there is no question about their having had the means—to hire only the best. To cite a few examples, Antoine Beauvilliers quit the service of the comte de Provence (the future Louis XVIII) a few years before the Revolution to open his Grande Taverne de Londres (Grand London Tavern); Les Frères Provençaux (The Brothers from Provence) likewise opened before the Revolution, but two of the three partners continued to work for the prince de Conti until he emigrated; both Robert and Méot opened their eponymous restaurants after their employer, the prince de Condé, departed; previously Robert had cooked for the archbishop of Aix and Méot for the duc d’Orléans. Louis-Eustache Ude, cook to Louis XVI, subsequently worked for English noblemen and then ended up at Crockford’s Club in London.[21]

Exit the aristocracy; enter the revolutionaries. Wave upon wave of elected representatives—to the Estates General, the National Assembly, the Legislative Assembly, the National Convention, the Council of Five Hundred—all descended on Paris within the space of a few years. At the same time or shortly afterward came their friends and relatives and fortune-seekers of every variety, in search of favors, jobs, and contracts. Almost none of these people had households waiting for them in Paris, and all of them had to eat. They began by frequenting modest taverns and the like, but the tastes of many of them developed as rapidly as their wealth. “These revolutionary mushrooms,” wrote Grimod, “were thus one of the principal causes of the restoration of the fortunes of the Old Regime’s out-of-work chefs.” [22]

With the accession to power of Napoleon in 1799, and particularly with the advent of the Empire in 1804, the situation of haute cuisine became more complex. Some chefs stayed at their restaurants. Others went to work for the new Napoleonic nobility. Méot, for example, was hired by Joseph Bonaparte and went with him to Naples and Madrid when Napoleon made his oldest brother first king of Naples and then king of Spain. Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Bonaparte, employed Ude for a couple of years. Napoleon’s brother-in-law, Marshal Murat, employed both Robert and one Laguipière, a former chef to the comte d’Estaing under the Old Regime and to Napoleon himself under the new, who froze to death during the disastrous retreat of the Grande Armée from Moscow late in the year 1812.[23]

Still other leading chefs worked as freelances, to use a late-twentieth-century metaphor derived from the Middle Ages to describe an early-nineteenth-century situation. Aristocrats had been hiring well-known chefs on an occasional basis to work on extras since at least the late seventeenth century. One of the most famous chefs from that early period of haute cuisine, François Massialot, author of the often-reissued Le Cuisinier roial et bourgeois (Cooking for Royalty and for the Middle Class, 1691), seems to have been primarily an extra chef.[24] But most chefs had probably worked on extras only to supplement more regular employment. Napoleon’s Empire, which during its decade of existence did everything on a grand scale, offered unprecedented opportunities to make a living from extras. Thus, for haute cuisine the quarter century encompassing the Revolution, the Consulate, and the Empire constituted a period of explosive growth.

Carême’s independent career began in this period of ubiquitous opportunity that encouraged mobility, and even after the period ended his career continued to be a restless quest for the most benevolent situation in which to develop his art. After a short stint at Gendron’s, just about the time Napoleon proclaimed the Empire, Carême followed Massialot’s example: “I quit pastry houses for good, in order to pursue my work on extras. ” He had plenty to do: “Upon leaving M. Bailly in order to set up in the extra business, I counted 150 pièces montées that I had already constructed. During my ten years of working extras in the great houses of the Empire, I made more than double that number.” “In 1805, I worked 53 extras without taking a day off, on the occasion of the Peace of Pressburg”; and each extra took up to several days to produce.[25]

Carême particularly valued extras for giving him professional contact with the best chefs of the time. He called the extras of the Empire the “grande école” for cooks, a reference to the technical institutes for advanced study in various fields of learning that were founded by the revolutionaries and Napoleon and known collectively as the Grandes Écoles. Often, several master chefs participated in the production of an extra, each one overseeing a different part of the banquet. There would be a chef for the pastry, Carême’s usual role, another for the main courses, yet another for the sauces, still another for the cold food,…and one supervising the whole. The most lavish extras took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Talleyrand; at the Hôtel de Ville, home of the Paris city government; and at the Élysée Palace, then Marshal Murat’s residence, today that of the president of France. At the Hôtel de Ville, the observant and industrious Carême learned to prepare cold dishes from the veteran chef Lasne. At the Élysée Palace, he worked under Laguipière and Robert, the latter of whom had brought his assistants with him all the way from the prerevolutionary kitchen of the prince de Condé to his own restaurant and then to Marshal Murat’s household, where they taught sauces to Carême.[26]

Enormous budgets were another advantage extras afforded chefs. Carême cited as one of the principal reasons for what he called the “renaissance” of French cuisine the opportunity and the will to spend freely that the victories of the revolutionary and Napoleonic armies created. By contrast, “since that era the great houses have found themselves constrained by a certain economy, unquestionably unfavorable to the science [of cooking]; the men of talent who remain employed find themselves partially paralyzed, and those who are not employed vegetate, being unable to find suitable positions.” Thus, to Carême, the fall of Napoleon marked the beginning of at least a temporary decline in French haute cuisine.[27]

Our knowledge of Carême’s other professional activities during the Empire is fragmentary. Talleyrand, the longtime minister of foreign affairs, employed him often and apparently sometimes for longer than the few days of an extra, but probably never as his regular chef. Carême seems to have first opened his patisserie on the rue de la Paix, near where the Opéra stands today, sometime in this period, although it probably functioned primarily or exclusively as a kitchen for the preparation of extras rather than as a retail shop. His first book, Histoire de la table romaine (History of the Roman Table), which made an implicit if not explicit comparison between two empires, probably came out during Napoleon’s reign. He had continued or resumed his studies at the Bibliothèque Nationale and also corresponded with a Vatican librarian in charge of some relevant manuscripts. The chef of the French Empire concluded, according to his secretary Fayot, for no copy of the work appears to be extant, that “the famous cuisine that developed in the splendor of the Roman Empire was fundamentally bad and atrociously heavy.” [28]

Shortly after the advent of the Restoration in 1814, Carême, like many of his colleagues, went abroad: “It is painful for me to admit that foreigners took possession of the most distinguished and most accomplished of our talented young practitioners and sustained the splendor of our calling; I myself, since that time, have traveled in England, Austria and Russia.” Carême was well compensated throughout the entire decade and a half of the Restoration for whatever pangs of homesickness or wounded national pride he suffered. Ambassadors, princes, even monarchs of the Great Powers competed for his services, and he accepted their offers or not at his own pleasure. It began in 1814–15 when a host of foreign dignitaries arrived in Paris subsequent to the defeat of Napoleon. Several of them, after employing Carême for extras there, wanted to employ him permanently abroad. Carême initially turned down all of their offers, preferring to continue working on extras and to complete his two complementary books on pastry.[29]Le Pâtissier pittoresque (Picturesque Pastry, 1815) contained 124 designs for pièces montées and a short instructional introduction, while Le Pâtissier royal parisien (Royal Parisian Pastry, also 1815) consisted of two volumes of pastry recipes. Eventually, however, he agreed to enter the service of the prince-regent of Great Britain, the future King George IV, and set out on what would become a grand tour of the capitals of Europe.

Carême went to work for the prince-regent in the fall of 1816 but left him after only about eight months, blaming constant gray skies and homesickness for the brevity of his stay in England. In 1818, he traveled to Aix-la-Chapelle (now Aachen) for the diplomatic congress there, where he was employed by Tsar Alexander I, one of those who had employed him in Paris in 1814–15. Then he went to Vienna in the service of Lord Stewart, the English ambassador to Austria. When Stewart was summoned back to London, Carême accompanied him, but almost as soon as they arrived the diplomat continued on to his country estate while the chef stayed in the capital, waiting for him. For some reason they never connected and Carême returned to Paris. In 1819, Carême accepted a permanent position with the tsar and sailed to St. Petersburg. “I accepted the position of maître d’hôtel; but noticing that it was debased, after having been abused, by a humiliating surveillance, I changed my mind almost immediately.…It was in vain that they attempted to keep me there; my colleagues could not believe that I would leave St. Petersburg without taking advantage of any of the offers that were made to me.” The return voyage alone of this fruitless trip took thirty-nine days. Back in Paris, Carême went to work for the Russian Princess Bagration, but when she contracted an illness that left him idle for an extended period of time, he obtained her permission to leave. This was in order to go to work for Lord Stewart again, again in Vienna. But when Carême arrived there, the ambassador was gone. The chef pursued him westward across Austria and Switzerland, and then eastward across northern Italy, stopping in Laibach (now Ljubljana), the site of the 1821 diplomatic congress, the day after Stewart’s departure. He ultimately caught up with him back in Vienna, but they soon left for London to attend the coronation of George IV, which they missed. From there, Stewart again retreated to the country while Carême again returned to Paris. Prince Esterházy of Hungary, who had attended George’s coronation in a suit of diamonds, and who was expecting to be named Austrian ambassador to France, engaged him next, but the chef waited fifteen months in vain for his arrival. During that time he turned down many offers before finally accepting one from baron James de Rothschild, the founder of the Paris branch of the banking family. He stayed with the financier from 1824 through 1829.[30]

The last few years of his life Carême spent in semiretirement, tending his reacquired patisserie and his literary legacy, with the assistance of his wife and daughter.[31] Before this semiretirement, he had published two more books, Le Maître d’hôtel français (The French Maître d’Hôtel, 1822) and Le Cuisinier parisien (The Parisian Cook, 1828), demonstrating his successive mastery of two more culinary fields after pastry, his original specialty. The first of these works, principally a calendrical repertoire of menus, contains a long essay contrasting “old cuisine” with “modern cuisine.” As in his earlier Histoire de la table romaine, Carême criticizes “old cuisine,” but in this case his target is the French nouvelle cuisine of the middle of the eighteenth century.[32]Le Cuisinier parisien was his initial attempt at a comprehensive cookbook. He was working on a greatly expanded version of it, called L’Art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle (The Art of French Cooking in the Nineteenth Century), when he died in 1833: Its first two volumes appeared later that same year; the third two years later; the fourth and fifth, completed by one of his students, a decade later.

Carême’s career seems to have been guided by conflicting needs. He needed the independence to do what he wanted, but also the means to execute large projects; a highly cultivated audience, but an undemanding one; work to be able to develop his talent and present its products, but leisure to be able to leave a record of them in his books. Since no single situation satisfied all of these requirements, the chef was constantly stirring.

That Carême did not fit well into any social niche had as much to do with his society as it did with him as an individual. French society in the Age of Revolution was a fluid society in which the old aristocratic structure was dissolving and the new bourgeois structure was only beginning to crystallize. From the beginning of haute cuisine to the eve of the French Revolution, from the 1650s to the 1780s, the leading chefs were for the most part domestic servants working in the kitchens of aristocrats and financiers, and many of the latter, such as Grimod’s grandfather and James Rothschild, were eventually ennobled. From the 1880s to the present, the leading chefs have generally been proprietors of their own restaurants or patisseries, that is, entrepreneurs. In the intervening century, chefs found themselves in diverse and unstable situations.

Beginning with La Varenne, Vatel, and the other luminaries of the second half of the seventeenth century, the chefs of French haute cuisine enjoyed ever-increasing prestige. Shortly before the Revolution, in his Tableau de Paris (Picture of Paris, 1782–88), Sébastien Mercier observed: “It is almost to the point today where chefs will assume the title of culinary artist. They do not yet receive salaries of 20,000 livres, as they did formerly, in Rome; but they are pampered, they are humored, they are appeased when they are angry, and all the other servants of the household are generally sacrificed to them.” [33] This undoubtedly had something to do with French culture’s conquest of the upper strata of European society during the second half of the seventeenth and the entire eighteenth century. In that period the French language served as the lingua franca of the Continent, much the way English does today worldwide. French dances and French dress radiated outward from Paris across Europe in waves of fashion just as French cuisine did. Yet somehow French dancing masters and tailors never received the same recognition as chefs. Who invented or popularized the minuet in the 1650s, the écossaise in the 1780s, the quadrille in the 1800s, the galop in the 1820s?[34] Who in the early 1800s designed classical revival clothes, including the high-waisted dresses that are still known today as empire?

While the prestige of French chefs steadily increased, for whatever reason, to the level of artists’, their social status remained until the Revolution at the level of servants’. Thus, the tension between their prestige and their social status also steadily increased. The Revolution released some of this tension by allowing chefs to become their own masters as restaurateurs. Beauvilliers, Robert, and other chefs of the Age of Revolution made the transition from servant of the aristocracy to entrepreneur. Carême’s career trajectory was different, however. He followed a normal upward path from employee to freelance to supervisor of others, but as he went upward he also went backward, from business establishments to extras to aristocratic households. If one counts his last years as the proprietor of a patisserie, then he did end up as an entrepreneur, but it seems likely that he assumed that role only on account of failing health, not as a matter of preference or because he saw it as a step forward.[35] The dilemma was this: As entrepreneurs, chefs had the independent status of artists but the means only to be craftsmen; as employees of the aristocracy, chefs had the means to be artists but the status only of servants. Carême made his choice, consistently arguing that the true home of haute cuisine was private households rather than business establishments, but the tension remained. On the one hand, he objected to the idea that chefs such as Beauvilliers and Baleine, the proprietors of two of Paris’s most highly regarded restaurants, had been responsible for the renaissance of the art of cooking. On the other hand, he apostrophized the nobility on behalf of their chefs “not to confound us with the servant class!” Rather than a servant, the chef was an independent artist: “The master chef has only himself to answer to in his work.” Both of these quotations are taken from the same book, Carême’s last; the tension stayed with him to the end. He dealt with it, as observed above, by changing positions frequently and by exercising almost as much discretion in his choice of masters as his employers did in their choice of chefs—and by occasionally crying out that he was not a servant.[36]

The Empire was a short period of stability between the dissolution of aristocratic society and the crystallization of bourgeois society. Individuals who excelled had the best of both the old and the new societies. The nobility created by Napoleon enjoyed both the privileges of aristocratic society and the social mobility of bourgeois society. The extra chefs enjoyed both the means provided by aristocratic society and the independence provided by bourgeois society. It was the best of both worlds, but necessarily brief, based on two mutually incompatible forms of social organization, and on the exploitation of the rest of Europe.

Eventually, in the twentieth century, French clothing designers would become as celebrated as French chefs. And the prestige of the latter did not decline. But while a few twentieth-century chefs have received the cross of the Légion d’Honneur, an award created by Napoleon, Carême remains the only chef to have been quasi-ennobled, when Louis XVIII granted him the privilege of calling himself “Carême de Paris.” Legend has it that Talleyrand once repeated to Louis XVIII the chef’s rhetorical question, “Isn’t the science of nourishment more valuable than the science of killing?” to which the king replied, “Carême is right, but I’m afraid it will be a long time before I am able to appoint a minister of cuisine!” [37] The chef remained, until the permanent crystallization of bourgeois society in the late nineteenth century, a social paradox.

Carême’s cuisine, the haute cuisine of this transitional period, was “grande cuisine.” Just as the seventeenth-century founders of French haute cuisine were criticized by the eighteenth-century chefs of nouvelle cuisine, so the latter, in turn, were criticized by Carême, representing a new, nineteenth-century culinary aesthetic. Carême wrote of Marin’s Les Dons de Comus, “What meager inspiration!”; of the anonymous Les Soupers de la cour (Court Suppers, 1755), “It is not possible that the nobility of the period had the taste for these sorts of dinners”; and of La Chapelle’s The Modern Cook, “What astonishes me is to see the profusion with which he covered the most refined tables of that time; this is not elegance.” He faulted nouvelle cuisine above all for its excess: Eighteenth-century chefs served too many dishes at once, and those dishes, particularly the roasts, were too large, leaving little table space for the diners. Their thematic meals in which, for example, all the dishes contained beef in one form or another, he judged excessively monotonous. As for the seven or more full courses they often served at supper, the late evening meal: “What a space of time this series of courses must have required…; truly this was excessive feasting.” Carême also found much of their food still too heavily spiced—which he blamed on the lingering influence of the Italian Renaissance chefs who had come to France—their fish strangely garnished with cuts of meat and poultry and vice-versa, and their stocks similarly confused. He pointed out as symptomatic of the confusion of nouvelle cuisine chefs the term potage de ragoût, “stew soup.” [38]

In general, Carême’s reforms aimed at reducing confusion or increasing clarity, both in the flavor of dishes and in French cuisine as a body of knowledge. He made it a principle to keep fish, poultry, and meat separate, to garnish fish dishes only with other fish, for example, or with fruit or vegetables, but never with meat or poultry. This rule, incidentally, to which there are of course exceptions, remains in force today. He stressed again and again the need for chefs to be literate, perhaps partly as a way of underlining his achievement as an autodidact, but also because he knew from his own experience that one can more easily utilize and increase one’s knowledge when it is accessible in an organized, comprehensive form. And once culinary knowledge were reduced to a system, there would be no more abominations like potage de ragoût. As early as 1815, Carême proposed the formation of a chefs’ association that would, among other things, taste and judge new dishes and compile a multivolume encyclopedia of modern cuisine. He eventually undertook to carry out the latter project himself with his five-volume L’Art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle.[39]

Paris must have stunk badly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the city was beginning to become crowded yet still had cesspools rather than indoor plumbing, still had dumps inside the city walls, and still had few sewers, often clogged. Heavy spicing helped to cover up foul odors, whether ambient or from the food itself, which, lacking refrigeration and rapid transportation, was not always radiantly fresh. By the nineteenth century, haute cuisine was ripe for an olfactory revolution. Carême dispensed with combative and overpowering aromas and emphasized simple and subtle scents. Cakes and biscuits flavored with the distilled essence of orange, lemon, bergamot, rosewater, or orris distinguished his pastry.[40] Once he baked some wafer for Napoleon’s sister Pauline: “When it was unveiled in church, I found that it had something sublime and religious about it, especially in conjunction with the incense that was burning in some little vases and in a golden cup; its sweet fragrance perfumed the sacred vault for an instant and entered into our heads!” [41] No doubt Carême’s scenting of the body of Christ inspired exalted visions, but of heaven’s kingdom or of worldly empire?

Grande cuisine emphasized the concentration of individual flavors in isolation, followed by the harmonious blending of a small number of them. Tournedos Rossini, consisting of a flat crouton, a thick slice of filet mignon, a slice of pâté de foie gras, and Madeira sauce, with pieces of truffle either on top or in the sauce, is a creation of grande cuisine. Pâté de foie gras by itself is grande cuisine and dates from the eve of the Revolution. It contains, in addition to goose liver, both Madeira and truffles, flavors reinforced in the sauce in tournedos Rossini. The basis and only other ingredient of the sauce is demiglace, a reduction of stock made from beef and veal bones. The complete dish is thus a classic illustration of intensification and restraint in flavors. We do not in fact know who created tournedos Rossini, but it is Carême’s style and he had a more than passing acquaintance with the composer. He baked pâtés as presents for him, gave him cooking lessons, and received musical homages in return. Rossini, contemplating a tour of the United States, which he never made, is supposed to have said, “I will go if Carême will accompany me.” Carême probably also invented some of the dishes bearing the names Bagration and Talleyrand.[42]

Carême’s systematization of the repertoire of haute cuisine, in addition to reducing confusion and aiding menu composition, also facilitated the enumeration and creation of a large variety of dishes. Every dish could be classified as either a basic preparation or a variation of one, or a variation of a variation, on an organizational tree. The size of the trees is one of the things that made grande cuisine “grande.” Carême introduced his five-volume magnum opus with a survey of this arboreal luxuriance:

This work, entirely new, includes more than 250 meat soups and the same number of Lenten and fish soups; more than 150 sauces, both meat and Lenten; more than 150 stews, meat and Lenten; more than 50 kinds of garnish; more than 50 purees; more than 25 essences; more than 500 large fish dishes; and a considerable number of dishes of beef, poultry, game, ham, and pork.

A gastronome and contemporary of the chef commented: “It’s innumerable; this fabulous superabundance can have reality only for a wealthy man and the guests at his feasts.” [43]

Carême’s practice was not entirely consistent with his criticism of the excess of the nouvelle cuisine chefs. He observes, it is true, that the preceding generation had already scaled back the number of courses in an haute cuisine banquet from seven or more to three or four, and that entrees were served during only one or two of them. But fewer courses did not mean fewer dishes. He vaunts Talleyrand’s state dinners with their forty-eight different entrees. Carême might have dispensed with large roasts, but he served other large dishes instead. He certainly employed and may even have invented two classic confections, the croquembouche and the sultane. A croquembouche, which must be assembled just before serving, is a tall, careful stacking of chestnuts or orange slices or small pastries, each piece of which has just been glazed with sugar cooked to the crack stage. A sultane also calls for precisely cooked sugar, which is spun and formed into plumes and a lattice with which to crown a piece of pastry.[44]

Another indication of Carême’s predilection for three-dimensional presentations was his frequent use of hâtelets, a kind of ornamental skewer whose purpose was to be decorative in the dining room rather than functional in the kitchen. To garnish large fish that he served whole on platters, he lined up shrimp on hâtelets and lodged their points in the fish so that the rows of shrimp ran vertically or at an angle above the platter. And each hâtelet had a small metalwork design, such as a lyre, a wreath, or an eagle, at its blunt end. Carême created his own designs, which he took to a smith to be executed.[45]

Visual appeal has often played a part in cuisine and has almost always played a large part in haute cuisine. What cooks call presentation can be as simple as arranging food neatly on a plate or planning a meal with an eye to how the colors, shapes, and textures will complement one another on the plate. It can take into account serving dishes and utensils as well as the food itself. In addition to his hâtelets, Carême designed bowls, platters, and molds.[46] Presentation can make use of both the edible and inedible portions of a food plant or animal. Medieval feasts featured large birds such as swans, herons, and peacocks, the preparation of which, in a crossing of cuisine and taxidermy, consisted of removing the skin with the feathers still attached, cooking the meat, and then stuffing the meat back into the feathered skin. Presentation can also involve the use of edible ingredients to make an inedible product, whose sole appeal is visual. Elaborate centerpieces made of sugar date from at least as early as the Renaissance. When Maria de’ Medici arrived in France on her way to marry King Henri IV, she was given “a collation laid out on three tables, replete with several sorts of fish, beasts, and birds, all made of sugar, and fifty statues in sugar, two hands tall or thereabouts, naturalistically representing various gods, goddesses, and emperors.” [47]

Carême’s pièces montées monumentalized this tradition. They were on a grand scale in proportion to other table ornaments and had a wealth of detail. They appear to have surpassed their predecessors both in number and, at least in some instances, endurance. One may compare pièces montées to modern-day ice sculptures in several respects, including their normally ephemeral, one-evening, existence. But several that Carême executed for a dinner at Lord Stewart’s residence in Vienna remained there preserved under glass cylinders, and others made for Louis XVIII in 1823, in celebration of recent French military victories in Spain, found shelter in the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (Arts and Crafts Conservatory).[48]

Carême regarded his centerpieces as miniature, but nevertheless authentic, works of architecture: “The fine arts are five in number: painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture—whose main branch is pastry.” Between 1821 and 1826 he published a series of six folio-sized pamphlets of designs for public monuments, one set for St. Petersburg and the others for Paris. This was the final result of his long study of buildings undertaken for the immediate purpose of developing ideas for pièces montées. The pastry chef’s drawings of columns, fountains, temples, arches, and the like got a smiling reception. He dedicated the set of proposals for St. Petersburg to Tsar Alexander, sent a presentation copy to him, and received in return a diamond ring. He showed some of his proposals for Paris to the official architect of the French government and to an author of a history of architecture, both of whom made positive comments. The last of these folios contains an “homage to Charles X,” a design for a “large military trophy, consecrated to the glory of the Grande Armée,” and a design for a “large column honoring the Paris National Guard,” thus offering something to each of the three mutually hostile major political groups, the monarchists, the Bonapartists, and the republicans.[49]

Carême’s cuisine was clearly as excessive in its own way as nouvelle cuisine had been. The novelist Balzac, his contemporary, imagined “a sort of culinary science of love. The virtuous and worthy woman, then, would be a Homeric repast, flesh rudely roasted over hot coals. The courtesan, on the other hand, would be the work of Carême, with all its sauces, spices, and refinement.” However, it must be added that the well-known novelist was also a well-known gourmand, who frequented some of the most luxurious restaurants of Paris, and that he drank an estimated fifty thousand cups of coffee during his fifty-year lifespan.[50] It was an age of expansive visions and commensurate creations: the Grandes Écoles, Napoleon’s Grande Armée, Carême’s grande cuisine, Balzac’s Comédie humaine.

Grande cuisine represented the apogee of French haute cuisine: the high point of cuisine considered from the perspective of art and the point furthest distant from cuisine as nutrition. Cuisine’s high trajectory during the era of grande cuisine seemed to be acknowledged within the corps of critics—that is, literary critics, music critics, art critics, and others—by the creation of a new division of food critics. The students and followers of Carême extended grande cuisine into the second half of the nineteenth century, steadfastly resisting the adoption of Russian service and other rational reforms. Finally, toward the end of the century, a new generation of chefs began to bring haute cuisine down to earth again.

Grande cuisine attracted the first gastronomers, people for whom food came to be just as much a matter of contemplation as of eating. Grimod de La Reynière had been a theater critic but after the Revolution turned his gaze from the boards to the board, becoming the first professional critic of French cuisine. He began to produce his annual Almanach des gourmands (1803–12), another milestone in the development of cuisine as an art, two decades after the publication of Le Grand d’Aussy’s history and four decades after the opening of Boulanger’s restaurant. Grimod had gourmandise in his ancestry: His grandfather died of suffocation while gorging himself on a pâté. The almanacs gave gastronomical tours of Paris, and Grimod, the prototype of the modern restaurant critic, developed the power to make or break through his recommendations the reputation of restaurateurs, caterers, pastry cooks, and bakers. He based his recommendations on the findings of the Jury Dégustateur, a group of gastronomes that met regularly to taste the works of local chefs, and subsequently to award or deny them légitimations, certificates of commendation like those that the Académie des Sciences had been issuing for more than a century to inventors and discoverers. Carême, however, refused to credit Grimod and his associates with having contributed to the renaissance of his art.[51]

Grande cuisine resisted the Copernican revolution in service that took place during the nineteenth century. Since its beginning, haute cuisine had been operating according to what became known as “French service.” In this system, each dish arrives at the table on a platter, from which the diners help themselves or are served by the host and the host’s staff. All the dishes in a course are brought at once and later removed at once to make way for the next course. The fewer the courses, the more the dishes to be served in each of them, given a fixed total number of dishes. And the number of dishes could be fairly large, we have had occasion to note. Thus, French service, especially for a banquet consisting of only a few courses and a large number of dishes, has the drawback that a lot of food arrives at once and the diners end up eating much of it at room temperature, whether they want to or not. In Russian service, the dishes arrive at the table already distributed on plates and the diners eat more of the hot food while it is still hot and the cold food while it is still cold. On the other hand, this system sacrifices the great displays that French service permits. Russian service appeared in Paris in the 1810s but gained adherents there only gradually, not winning full acceptance until after mid-century. Carême, for one, never adopted the new system.[52]

Grande cuisine continued for two generations after Carême, through the Second Empire. Several of the period’s leading chefs, such as Armand Plumerey, Charles-Elmé Francatelli, and Jules Gouffé, had trained under Carême. Plumerey, who completed Carême’s L’Art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle from notes left by him, had worked for Talleyrand and then became the chef to Princess Poniatowski and later to the comte de Pahlen, Russian ambassador to France. Francatelli spent most of his career in England, where he directed in succession the kitchens of several aristocrats, Crockford’s Club, Queen Victoria, Coventry House Club, the Reform Club, and finally Freemason’s Tavern. Gouffé remained in Paris, where he had his own restaurant, retired young, and then came out of retirement to take charge of the Jockey Club. Félix-Urbain Dubois and Émile Bernard, both chefs to the king of Prussia, and above all Alexis Soyer, chef to several English aristocrats before taking over the Reform Club, were three more important practitioners and cookbook authors influenced by Carême. Significantly, grande cuisine continued to flourish in private households and private clubs and had a much smaller presence in restaurants. It could also be found in the United States beginning in the antebellum period and especially in the Gilded Age. Lorenzo Delmonico, originally from Marengo, Switzerland, opened a series of restaurants in New York where he employed other emigrating European chefs, many of whom eventually moved on, spreading French haute cuisine in America. Delmonico’s created such classics as baked Alaska and lobster Newburg, and became a regular stop for visiting dignitaries; the prince of Wales’s banquet there in 1860 had as its centerpiece a sugar sculpture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.[53]

Eventually, inevitably, a new generation of haute cuisine chefs, beginning in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, criticized grande cuisine for its excesses. For the most part these chefs either had their own restaurants or oversaw large hotel restaurants. Since they moved easily from a hotel or restaurant in one country to another in another, and thus contributed to the breaking down of culinary borders, their cuisine is sometimes called International Hotel and Restaurant Cuisine. Their acknowledged leader and representative figure was Auguste Escoffier, who spent his illustrious career in hotel kitchens in Paris, Monte Carlo, and London. These fin-de-siècle chefs made final the conversion to Russian service. They also emphasized speedier service and lighter fare, and deemphasized the purely visual displays that had become such a large part of haute cuisine. Henri-Paul Pellaprat, who headed the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris at the turn of the century, wrote:

Carême left a considerable body of work on the basis of which we are still operating, although we have brought to it modifications in detail and in service, and above all simplifications, that our times and circumstances have imposed on us. The foundation of cuisine is unchanged. Just imagine, when Carême was officiating in the temple of Comus, it was filled with allegorical pièces montées bearing multiple symbols. The chef had to be a draftsman, an architect, a turner, a sculptor and…a cook; the main event almost disappeared beneath a mass of decorations, and whole teams of cooks were required to execute a grand dîner.[54]

Grande cuisine was the grand art of cuisine.

The grand artist of cuisine was how Carême thought of himself and wanted to be thought of by posterity, which obligingly fulfilled his desire. He wrote of himself that he doubted “a cook has ever made as many pecuniary sacrifices in order to further the progress of the culinary arts.” It is true that he was not wealthy when he died. “The cooks of our time are not always appreciated in France; only love of the field sustains them in their practice.” One of his compensations was the thought that his Art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle would “produce the same effect” on cooking as his earlier Pâtissier royal parisien had produced on pastry-making.

When I take a look around Paris, I see with pleasure in every neighborhood the improvements and the growth that the pastry shops have undergone since this work appeared.…The pastry cooks of the suburbs, having my book in their hands, have not feared to move into the heart of the capital; those who had formerly worked in private households have set up in business for themselves, which they would never have dared to do without the aid of my volume.[55]

Another compensation was his belief, and in this he echoed Voltaire, although probably unconsciously and indirectly, that “the cook who has lived among the great is their doctor;…a good cook will prolong their existence.” Referring specifically to his experience working in England, Carême wrote with pride: “In the space of the eight months that I remained there, for seven of them I did not leave the service of his Brittanic Majesty, who had not during that period a single attack of gout, although before my arrival in this royal household the cooking was so overpowering and spicy that the prince was frequently afflicted for whole days and nights at a time.” Although Voltaire paid lip-service to the idea of the cook as doctor, his letters indicate that he expected his cook to provide him with pleasurable rather than healthy food and that his real conception was more on the order of the cook as artist. He once wrote to Grimod de La Reynière’s grandfather, the one who killed himself with a pâté, requesting that his cook be allowed to serve in the latter’s kitchen for a while as a sort of master class: “It is not that I aspire to serve fare as good as yours. But a cook gets rusty…and it is necessary to encourage the fine arts.” It is possible that in writing “a good cook is also a fine physicien ” Voltaire meant “physicist” rather than “physician,” since the French word had both meanings; that is, he may have been alluding to the cook’s ability to transform foodstuffs by such means as fire and ice, pressure and acidity, and dissolution and trituration, rather than the cook’s ability to aid in the maintenance and recovery of one’s health. If so, the focus here too would be on the cook’s skill or art in preparing food and not on the food’s salubriousness. Likewise, Carême betrayed his real conception of the chef’s role: “One day, a great lord whom I was serving addressed these words to me: ‘Carême, you will make me die from overeating. I desire everything that you present to me, and, in truth, these are too many temptations.’ ‘My lord,’ I responded to him, ‘my chief business is to stimulate your appetite by the variety of my service, and it is not my job to regulate it.’” [56]

“Taste,” a concept fundamental to Western art since the second half of the seventeenth century, has its origin in haute cuisine. Before the midseventeenth century, the equivalents “taste,” gusto (Italian), Geschmack (German), and goût (French) referred only to the flavor of food. The first known use of the word goût in the sense of connoisseurship, the ability to make fine distinctions in quality, occurred in Nicolas de Bonnefons’s Les Délices de la campagne (Country Delicacies, 1654), one of the founding texts of haute cuisine. Soon afterward, this meaning was carried over into other aesthetic realms. Montesquieu received the assignment to write the article “Goût” for the Encyclopédie, but he died before completing it; his long fragment became an appendix to the short article by Voltaire, who wrote:

This sense, this ability to discriminate in our food, has produced in every known language the metaphor that expresses, by the word “taste,” the feeling for beauty and deficiency in all the arts. It is a power of discernment that operates as rapidly as those of the tongue and the palate and that, like them, precedes reflection; like them, it is sensitive and voluptuous regarding the good; like them, it rejects the bad with disgust; like them, it is often uncertain or mistaken.[57]

Incidentally, the politically unpalatable Encyclopédie would not have been published if it had been contrary to the particular taste of Grimod de La Reynière’s uncle, Malesherbes, directeur de la librairie (director of the book trade).[58]

The French developed two different conceptions of cuisine, cuisine as nutrition and cuisine as art. Thus French chefs experienced the pressure of two different demands, the demand to prepare healthy food and the demand to produce aesthetically satisfying food, in regard to both appearance and taste. But this became clear only with the development of haute cuisine, a culinary practice in which cuisine as art emerged as the dominant conception. By the mid-eighteenth century, people were complaining that haute cuisine had gone so far in the direction of cuisine as art that it stood in contradiction to cuisine as nutrition.

But when the people who did the complaining were themselves artists, they only reinforced the contradiction. Rousseau, on the one hand, argued that people should eat and live more temperately. On the other hand, he himself had intemperate aspirations for greatness, as we have already seen. Even while writing that people should be more moderate in their desires and that society should be more egalitarian, Rousseau sought to be distinguished above others for his unique talents as a writer. Chefs could put into practice Rousseau’s ideas or they could follow his example. Small wonder, since by the mid-eighteenth century the best chefs had already attained the stature of artists, that some of them chose the latter course, “that all parts of the world were forced to pay tribute, that perhaps twenty million hands worked long hours, that perhaps thousands of lives were spent, and all in order to serve him [the gourmand] luxuriously at noon what he is going to leave in his chamber pot that evening.” Even while deploring this situation, Rousseau admitted that he was among those “for whom civil society is necessary and who are no longer able to forgo eating people.” It is not only our consumption of what others have produced at the expense of their lives that makes us cannibals, but also our feeding of our egos at the expense of others’ egos. Rousseau boasted in and of his Confessions, “I embark upon an enterprise that has no model and whose execution will never be imitated.” Carême boasted in his last work that it was “the most difficult and the most laborious task that a man of cuisine has ever dared to undertake,” and, referring to others in his profession, “my career in no way resembles theirs.” [59]

Three designs by Carême for pièces montées

Once cooking came to be considered an art and the best cooks artists, historians and critics of the art and biographers of the artists soon appeared. Le Grand d’Aussy published the Histoire de la vie privée des français; Grimod de La Reynière, the Almanach des gourmands; and Fayot, the “Notice biographique sur Carême.” Carême’s own memoirs, only partly completed, may have been the first attempt by a chef to leave a permanent record not of his recipes but of his own life, in a genre once restricted to the political and social elite. Carême was certainly not the first chef to aspire to fame, but since cuisine had only recently acquired a history, he may have been the first to consciously seek a permanent place for himself in it. In his writings, just as in his cuisine, he clearly intended to monumentalize himself as a great artist.


All translations of quotations from other languages into English are the author’s unless otherwise noted.

1. Montesquieu, Lettres persanes, in Oeuvres complètes, p. 80.

2. [Urbain de Vandenesse], “Caffé,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 2, p. 529. For the author attribution: John Lough, The “Encyclopédie” (New York: McKay, 1971), app. B.

3. [Pierre-Jean-Baptiste] Le Grand d’Aussy, Histoire de la vie privée des français, 3 vols. (Paris: Pierres, 1782), vol. 2, pp. 213–14; Alfred Gottschalk, Histoire de l’alimentation et de la gastronomie depuis la préhistoire jusqu’à nos jours, 2 vols. (Paris: Hippocrate, 1948), vol. 2, pp. 243–45; Hillairet, Dictionnaire historique, vol. 1, pp. 138–39; Anon., “Restauratif ou Restaurant,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 14, p. 193; Diderot, Correspondance, vol. 7, pp. 151–52.

4. The sources of the quotations, in order: chevalier de Jaucourt, “Cuisine,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 4, p. 537; Voltaire, Voltaire’s Correspondence, ed. Theodore Besterman, 107 vols. (Geneva: Institut et Musée Voltaire, 1953–65), vol. 33, p. 120; Anon., “Assaisonnement,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 1, p. 765; Voltaire, Voltaire’s Correspondence, vol. 59, pp. 59–60; Diderot, Neveu de Rameau, in Oeuvres, pp. 472–73; Rousseau, Émile, ou De l’éducation, in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 4, p. 409. For discussions of the philosophes and cuisine: Jean-Claude Bonnet, “The Culinary System in the Encyclopédie, ” trans. Elborg Forster, in Food and Drink in History, ed. Robert Forster and Orest Ranum (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), pp. 139–65; Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, “Voltaire as Host and Diner,” in Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), pp. 212–19; Jean-Claude Bonnet, “Le système de la cuisine et du repas chez Rousseau,” Poétique 6, no. 22 (1975): 244–67.

5. Jaucourt, “Cuisine,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 4, p. 538; Michel de Montaigne, Essais, ed. Pierre Michel, 3 vols. (Paris: Librairie Générale Française, 1972), bk. 1, chap. 51.

6. Alain Girard, “Le Triomphe de ‘la cuisinière bourgeoise’: Livres culinaires, cuisine et société en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles,” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 23, no. 4 (October–December 1977): 499–508; Jean-Louis Flandrin, Philip Hyman, and Mary Hyman, “La Cuisine dans la littérature de colportage,” introductory essay to François-Pierre de La Varenne, Le Cuisinier françois (Paris: Montalba, 1983; first published 1651), p. 12.

7. Jean-Louis Flandrin, “Le distinction par le goût,” in Histoire de la vie privée, ed. Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby, 5 vols. (Paris: Seuil, 1985–1987), vol. 3, pp. 274–80, 285–86; Flandrin, Hyman, and Hyman, “La Cuisine dans la littérature,” in Cuisinier françois, pp. 14–35; Wheaton, Savoring the Past, chap. 6; Stephen Mennell, All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present (London: Blackwell, 1985), pp. 71–77.

8. L. S. R., L’Art de bien traiter (Paris: Du Puis, 1674), pp. 1–2, 4–5.

9. Vincent La Chapelle, The Modern Cook, 3 vols. (London: Author, 1733), vol. 1, p. i; [François Marin], Les Dons de Comus (Paris: Prault, 1739), title page, pp. xix–xx.

10. La Varenne, Cuisinier françois, p. 110; Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné, Recueil des lettres de Madame de Sévigné, 9 vols. (Paris: Libraires Associés, 1806), vol. 1, pp. 159–60 (letter of 24 April 1671). A subsequent letter, dated two days later, gives the Vatel story in more detail.

11. Girard, “Le Triomphe de ‘la cuisinière bourgeoise’” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 23, no. 4, p. 512.

12. The source of the first quotation: [Henri] Misson, M. Misson’s Memoirs and Observations in His Travels over England, trans. John Ozell (London: Browne et al., 1719; first published 1698), p. 314. For information on La Chapelle: La Chapelle, Modern Cook, title page; idem, Le Cuisinier moderne, 4 vols. in 2 (The Hague: Author, 1735), title page. For Fielding on Clouet: Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (New York: New American Library, 1963), bk. 1, chap. 1, p. 29; Martin C. Battestin, Henry Fielding, A Life (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 149. For information on the Noëls: Giacomo Casanova, chevalier de Seingalt, History of My Life, trans. Willard R. Trask, 12 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), vol. 10, pp. 56–57, 302–3, 335–36. The source of La Mettrie’s quotation: Julien Offroy de La Mettrie, Man a Machine, dual-language edition, trans. Gertrude C. Bussey et al. (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1953), pp. 21 (French), 93 (English). The source of Young’s quotation: Arthur Young, Travels during the years 1787, 1788, and 1789, 2 vols. (Bury Saint Edmunds, Eng.: Richardson, 1792), vol. 1, p. 277. On this whole subject: Wheaton, Savoring the Past, chap. 9.

13. Le Grand d’Aussy, Histoire de la vie privée, vol. 1, p. vii.

14. There is disagreement over Carême’s birthdate. The date carved on his tombstone is 8 June 1783. The official registration of his death on 12 January 1833 lists his age as forty-nine years and six months; based on this, a biographer places Carême’s birth in “the first ten days of the month of July of 1783”; Louis Rodil, Antonin Carême de Paris: 1783–1833 (Marseille: Laffitte, 1980), p. 19. Many other sources give 1784 as the year of his birth; several give the date of his birth as 8 June 1784.

15. Carême’s contemporaries and later writers have generally referred to him as Marie-Antoine or Antonin; thus the form Marie-Antoine at the head of this chapter. However, his books are almost always listed in catalogues under Marie-Antonin; thus the form Marie-Antonin in the notes to this chapter.

16. Frédéric Fayot, “Notice biographique sur Carême,” in Les Classiques de la table, ed. Justin Améro, new ed., 2 vols. (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1855), vol. 2, pp. 178–79.

17. On Carême at Bailly’s patisserie: ibid., pp. 178–84; Marie-Antonin Carême, Le Pâtissier pittoresque, 3d ed. (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1828), pp. 18–23; Frédéric Masson, Napoleon at Home, trans. James E. Matthew, 2 vols. (London: Grevel, 1894), vol. 1, pp. 169–70.

18. Carême, Pâtissier pittoresque, p. 23; Fayot, “Notice biographique sur Carême,” in Classiques de la table, 1855 ed., vol. 2, p. 183; [Agricol] B[eynet] Saint-Marc and the marquis de Boubonne, Les Chroniques du Palais-Royal; Origine, splendeur et décadence (Paris: Belin, n.d.), pp. 224–25; Christian Guy, Almanach historique de la gastronomie française (Paris: Hachette, 1981), unpaginated, 21 June (the book is organized as an almanac, with articles entered in the order of the days of the year).

19. Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de La Reynière, Almanach des gourmands, 8 vols. (Paris: Maradan, 1803–12), vol. 1, pp. 163–68; Daniel Mornet, Les Origines intellectuelles de la Révolution française (1715–1787) (Paris: Colin, 1933), pp. 281–82; L[ouis-Marie] Prudhomme, Miroir historique, politique et critique de l’ancien et du nouveau Paris, 6 vols. (Paris: Prudhomme fils, 1807), vol. 1, p. 283; Marie-Antonin Carême, Le Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1828), vol. 1, pp. xli–xliii (“Discours préliminaire,” which, to judge from internal evidence, probably also formed part of the first edition of 1815, no copies of which seem to be extant); see also Pierre Lacam, “Nos grands hommes,” La Salle à manger 2, no. 10 (March 1892): 184 n. 1.

20. See the following articles from Encyclopédie: Anon., “Auberge,” vol. 1, p. 865; Anon., “Caffetier,” vol. 2, p. 529; Anon., “Limonadier,” vol. 9, p. 545; chevalier de Jaucourt, “Traiteur,” vol. 16, p. 536. See also Wheaton, Savoring the Past, pp. 72–73; Mennell, All Manners of Food, pp. 138–39.

21. [Louis-]Sébastien Mercier, The New Picture of Paris, trans. not credited, 2 vols. (London: Symonds, 1800; first published as Le Nouveau Paris in Paris, 1798), vol. 2, p. 119; Aoine] Beauvilliers, L’Art du cuisinier (Paris: Pilet, 1814), title page; Prosper Montagné, The New Larousse Gastronomique, trans. Marion Hunter, ed. Charlotte Turgeon (New York: Crown, 1977), pp. 765–71; Mennell, All Manners of Food, pp. 141, 150; Barbara Norman [Makanowitsky], Tales of the Table: A History of Western Cuisine (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972), p. 146; A[braham] H[ayward], The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers (London: Murray, 1853), pp. 73–75.

22. Grimod de La Reynière, Almanach des gourmands, vol. 1, p. 164.

23. Gottschalk, Histoire de l’alimentation, vol. 2, p. 348; Hayward, Art of Dining, p. 75; Marie-Antonin Carême, Le Maître d’hôtel français, 2 vols. (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1822), vol. 1, pp. 7–9; Masson, Napoleon at Home, vol. 1, pp. 170–71; Christian Guy, Une Histoire de la cuisine française (Paris: Productions de Paris, 1962), p. 103; Jean-Paul Aron, Le Mangeur du XIXe siècle (Paris: Laffont, 1973), pp. 28, 41; Marie-Antonin Carême, Le Cuisinier parisien, 2d ed. (Paris: Author, 1828), p. 5.

24. We may deduce this from the fact that Massialot’s book begins with a repertoire of menus by month, each menu of which is specified as having been used for a dinner given at the home of a particular aristocrat on a particular date, presumably under the supervision of Massialot himself. [François Massialot], Le Cuisinier roial et bourgeois, 3d ed. (Paris: Sercy, 1698); Wheaton, Savoring the Past, pp. 151–52.

25. Carême, Pâtissier pittoresque, p. 23; idem, Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., vol. 1, pp. xxxiii–xxxiv; idem, Le Pâtissier royal parisien, 3d ed., 2 vols. (Paris: Renouard et al., 1841), vol. 2, p. 385.

26. Carême, Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., vol. 1, p. xxxix; idem, Pâtissier royal parisien, 3d ed., vol. 2, pt. 7, “Revue critique des grands bals de 1810 et 1811”; idem, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 4–9.

27. Carême, Cuisinier parisien, pp. 30–31; idem, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 1–14, “Discours préliminaire: Parallèle de la cuisine ancienne et moderne.”

28. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 9–11; idem, Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., vol. 1, p. xli; Rodil, Antonin Carême de Paris, pp. 16, 21–22, 42–43; Hillairet, Dictionnaire historique, vol. 1, p. 209; Guy, Almanach historique, 21 June; Fayot, “Notice biographique sur Carême,” in Classiques de la table, 1855 ed., vol. 2, pp. 180–81. Carême’s patisserie was located at no. 17, rue de la Paix, according to Hillairet; at no. 25, rue de la Paix, according to Guy.

29. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, p. 10; idem, “Souvenirs écrits par lui-même,” in Les Classiques de la table, ed. Frédéric Fayot (Paris: Dentu, 1844), pp. 455–56.

30. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 12–13; vol. 2, pp. 100–101, 153–54; idem, “Souvenirs écrits par lui-même,” in Classiques de la table, 1844 ed., pp. 455–63.

31. Hillairet, Dictionnaire historique, vol. 1, p. 209; Guy, Almanach historique, 21 June.

32. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 1–62, “Discours préliminaire: Parallèle de la cuisine ancienne et moderne,” and chap. 1, “Traité des menus de la cuisine ancienne.”

33. L[ouis]-S[ébastien] Mercier, Le Tableau de Paris, abr. (Paris: Dentu, 1889), p. 157.

34. Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), pp. 252, 340, 531–32, 711; New Grove Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 323 (minuet); vol. 5, pp. 828–29 (écossaise); vol. 7, pp. 132–33 (galop); vol. 12, pp. 353–54 (minuet); vol. 15, pp. 489–91 (quadrille). Pierre Beauchamp (1636?–1719?), dancing master to Louis XIV, may have invented or popularized the steps to the minuet, and he was probably as well known in his time as any chef. No names seem to have been associated with any of the other dances mentioned. Beauchamp, however, gained fame as a ballet choreographer. So too, in the eighteenth century, did Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810). With regard to the prestige of the conductors of dance, there is a great contrast between dance as a form of theatrical performance and dance as a form of social intercourse—that is, between dance as an art, composed by artists, and dance as a social grace, taught by skilled servants. Chefs were coming to be considered more like choreographers, or artists, and less like dancing masters, or skilled servants.

35. Carême, “Souvenirs écrits par lui-même,” in Classiques de la table, 1844 ed., pp. 462–63.

36. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. iv, 57; idem, Cuisinier parisien, pp. 28–31; idem, L’Art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle, 5 vols. (Paris: Kerangué and Pollès, 1981; reprint of 2d ed., Paris, 1843–47), vol. 1, pp. xv, xviii, xx (“Aphorismes, Pensées et Maximes de l’Auteur”). Carême’s contemporary, Louis-Eustache Ude, who has been mentioned several times in this chapter, expressed similar sentiments in The French Cook (New York: Arco, 1978; reprint of Philadelphia ed., 1828; first published London, 1813), pp. xix–xxv (“Advice to Cooks”).

37. Montagné, New Larousse Gastronomique, p. 362; Mennell, All Manners of Food, p. 172; Jean-Robert Pitte, “Carême,” in Dictionnaire Napoléon, ed. Jean Tulard (Paris: Fayard, 1987), p. 371; Gottschalk, Histoire de l’alimentation, vol. 2, p. 360. A facsimile of a letter signed “Carême de Paris” may be found in Pierre Lacam, Le Mémorial historique et géographique de la pâtisserie (Vincennes: Author, 1895), insertion between pp. 504 and 505.

38. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 13–14, and chap. 1, “Traité des menus de la cuisine ancienne”; idem, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 2, pp. 7, 287.

39. Carême, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 2, pp. 7, 287; idem, Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., vol. 1, pp. xviii–xxi (“Discours préliminaire,” which probably also formed part of the lost first edition of 1815; see note 19 above). That Carême eventually decided to write the encyclopedia of modern cuisine himself is suggested in idem, Cuisinier parisien, p. 7, and idem, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 1, p. lvi.

40. Donald Reid, Paris Sewers and Sewermen: Realities and Representations (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), chap. 1; Montagné, New Larousse Gastronomique, p. 908. Two books treat at length the subject of smells in eighteenth-century France: a history by Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination, trans. Miriam L. Kochan, Roy Porter, and Christopher Prendergast (Leamington Spa, N.Y.: Berg, 1986); and a novel by Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, trans. John E. Woods (New York: Knopf, 1986). Corbin, pp. 14–15, 56, locates the olfactory revolution in French society at large in the period 1760–80; on p. 77, presumably speaking of that same period, he writes, “Cooks busily perfumed their dishes,” although he offers no supporting evidence.

41. The source of the quotation: marquis de Cussy, “L’Art culinaire,” in Classiques de la table, 1855 ed., vol. 1, p. 367.

42. Jean-François Revel, Culture and Cuisine: A Journey through the History of Food, trans. Helen R. Lane (New York: Doubleday, 1982), p. 240; [Frédéric Fayot and Elzéar Blaze], Causeries de chausseurs et de gourmets (Paris: Dépôt de librairie, 1851–59), pp. 24–25; Giuseppe Radiciotti, Gioacchino Rossini: Vita documentata, opere ed influenza su l’arte, 3 vols. (Tivoli: Chicca, 1927–29), vol. 1, p. 27 and n; Carême, “Souvenirs écrits par lui-même,” in Classiques de la table, 1844 ed., p. 464; Montagné, New Larousse Gastronomique, p. 393. One source credits a famous Paris restaurant, the Café Anglais, with the invention of tournedos Rossini; Luigi Bosia, intro. to Eugène Briffault, Paris à table (Geneva: Slatkine, 1980; reprint of Paris ed., 1846), unpaginated.

43. Carême, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 1, p. lxvi; Cussy, “L’Art culinaire,” in Classiques de la table, 1855 ed., vol. 1, p. 361.

44. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 7, 56–57, 187; vol. 2, pp. 85–86; Montagné, New Larousse Gastronomique, pp. 290, 674, 908.

45. Carême, Cuisinier parisien, p. 47; idem, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 2, pp. 9, 13.

46. Carême, Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., vol. 1, pp. xxvii–xxviii; idem, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 2, p. 13.

47. Anon., Le Ménagier de Paris, traité de morale et d’économie domestique composé vers 1393 par un bourgeois parisien, ed. Jérôme Pichon, 2 vols. (Paris: Société des Bibliophiles François, 1846), vol. 2, p. 184 and n; Le Grand d’Aussy, Histoire de la vie privée, vol. 2, p. 280 (the quotation, reproduced here, of Pierre-Victor-Palma Cayet, La Chronologie septennaire [Paris, 1605]); vol. 3, pp. 246–49. On seventeenth- and eighteenth-century centerpieces, including sugar sculptures: Le Grand d’Aussy, Histoire de la vie privée, vol. 3, pp. 249–62. On French medieval and Renaissance cuisine in general: Wheaton, Savoring the Past, chaps. 1, 2, 3.

48. Carême, “Souvenirs écrits par lui-même,” in Classiques de la table, 1844 ed., pp. 459–61.

49. Montagné, New Larousse Gastronomique, p. 186; Marie-Antonin Carême, Projets d’architecture, dédiés à Alexandre Ier (Paris: Author, 1821), pp. 5–6; idem, Projets d’architecture pour les embellissements de Paris (Paris: Author, 1821), p. 10; idem, Projets d’architecture pour les embellissements de Paris (Paris: Author, 1826).

50. Honoré de Balzac, Cousine Bette, in La Comédie humaine, ed. Marcel Bouteron, 10 vols. and index vol. (Paris: Pléiade, 1949–55), vol. 6, p. 394; V. S. Pritchett, Balzac (New York: Harmony, 1983), p. 111.

51. Carême, Cuisinier parisien, pp. 30–31. For several biographical sketches and biographies of Grimod: Anon., “Reynière,” in Biographie universelle et portative, vol. 4, pp. 1093–94; L. Louvet, “Grimod de La Reynière,” in Nouvelle biographie générale, ed. [Jean-Chrétien-Ferdinand] Hoefer, 46 vols. (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1852–66), vol. 22, cols. 102–7; Charles Monselet, “Grimod de la Reynière,” in Les Oubliés et les dédaignés (Paris: Poulet-Malassis and de Broise, 1859), pp. 173–291; Gustave Desnoiresterres, Grimod de la Reynière et son groupe (Paris: Didier, 1877); Ned Rival, Grimod de La Reynière, le gourmand gentilhomme (Paris: Près aux Clercs, 1983); Giles MacDonogh, A Palate in Revolution: Grimod de La Reynière and the “Almanach des gourmands” (London: Clark, 1987).

52. Different sources give different dates for the introduction of Russian service in Paris; the one used here is from Guy, Histoire de la cuisine française, pp. 132–33. For Carême’s views on French service: Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 41–57. On Russian service: ibid., vol. 2, p. 150.

53. “Préface de l’éditeur,” in Marie-Antonin Carême, Art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle, 5 vols. (Paris: Author and Dentu, 1833–44), vol. 4, p. viii. For Francatelli’s obituary: “An Illustrious Chef,” Times (London), 19 August 1876, p. 4. See also Hayward, Art of Dining, pp. 75–76; Mennell, All Manners of Food, pp. 149–57; Montagné, New Larousse Gastronomique, pp. 120, 431–32; Colin Clair, Kitchen and Table: A Bedside History of Eating in the Western World (London: Abelard-Shuman, 1964), pp. 235–44; “Lorenzo Delmonico Dead,” New York Times, 4 September 1881, p. 7; Betty Wason, Cooks, Gluttons, and Gourmets: A History of Cookery (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1962), pp. 287–89.

54. Mennell, All Manners of Food, pp. 157–63; H[enri]-P[aul] Pellaprat, Le Cuisinier (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1942), p. 28 (ellipsis in the original).

55. Carême, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 2, pp. 9, xvii, 323; idem, Pâtissier royal parisien, 2d ed., vol. 1, pp. xxv–xxvi.

56. Carême, Maître d’hôtel français, vol. 1, pp. 12–13; idem, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 2, pp. xix (citing Mercier rather than Voltaire as his source for the idea that a good cook is like a doctor), xxvii; Voltaire to Gaspard Grimod de La Reynière, [October 1745], and Voltaire to the comte de Tressan, 13 February [1758], in Voltaire’s Correspondance, vol. 13, p. 244, and vol. 33, p. 120, respectively; Wheaton, Savoring the Past, pp. 212–19 (“Voltaire as Host and Diner”); Carême, Cuisinier parisien, pp. 12–13.

57. Flandrin, “Le Distinction par le goût,” in Histoire de la vie privée, vol. 3, pp. 299–302; Voltaire, “Goût,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 7, p. 761. The published article “Goût (Gramm., Littérat. et Philos.),” which follows the article “Goût (Physiolog.)” by Jaucourt, consists of Voltaire’s one-page article, then Montesquieu’s six-page fragment, and finally three pages of “Réflexions sur l’usage et sur l’abus de la philosophie dans les matières de goût” by d’Alembert. On the authorship of this article: Lough, “Encyclopédie,” pp. 40, 51, 55; according to Lough, this was Montesquieu’s only contribution to the Encyclopédie.

58. Anon., “Reynière,” in Biographie universelle et portative, vol. 4, p. 1093; Monselet, “Grimod de la Reynière,” in Oubliés et les dédaignés, p. 179.

59. Jean-Claude Bonnet, “Le Système de repas et de la cuisine chez Rousseau,” Poétique 6, no. 22, pp. 244–67; Rousseau, Émile, in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 4, pp. 463, 831; idem, Confessions, in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 1, p. 5; Carême, Art de la cuisine française, 1981 ed., vol. 1, p. lvi; vol. 2, p. 318. See chapter 1 above, pp. 26–27.

Carême, Chef de Cuisine

Preferred Citation: Metzner, Paul. Crescendo of the Virtuoso: Spectacle, Skill, and Self-Promotion in Paris during the Age of Revolution. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1998 1998.