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Ritz and Escoffier From the Publisher In early August 1889 Cesar Ritz a Swiss hotelier highly regarded for his exuisite taste found himself at the Savoy Hotel in London He had come at the reuest of Richard D'Oyly Carte the financier of Gilbert Sullivan's comic operas who had modernized theater and was now looking to create the world's best hotel D'Oyly Carte soon seduced Ritz to move to London with his team which included Auguste Escoffier the chef de cuisine known for his elevated original dishes The result was a hotel and restaurant like no one had ever experienced run in often mysterious and always extravagant ways which created uite a scandal once exposed arr deftly re creates the thrilling Belle Epoue era just before World War I when British aristocracy was at its peak women began dining out unaccompanied by men and American nouveaux riches and gauche industrialists convened in London to show off their wealth In their collaboration at the still celebrated Savoy Hotel where they welcomed loyal and sometimes salacious clients such as Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt Escoffier created the modern kitchen brigade and codified French cuisine for the ages in his seminal Le Guide culinaire which remains in print today and Ritz whose name continues to grace the finest hotels across the world created the world's first luxury hotel The pair also ruffled than a few feathers in the process Fine dining would never be the same or intriguingAbit of history from me We all have heard of Ritz but few have heard of Escoffier unless you have read about or studied hotel and restaurant history At the end of the Victorian era snobbery was beginning to peak although it would not really be over until the end of the Edwardian era Caught up in this snobbery were the nouveau riche and their dollar duchesses women such as Consuelo Vanderbilt who were married off to cash poor gentry with titles The nouveau riche liked to show off their wealth and where better but a hotel and its famed restaurant where women could gassssp eat alone in full view? We can also blame Escoffier for the kitchen brigade and despotism that led to tyrant chefs such as Gordan Ramsey thanks for thatnotIf you love social history and anything travel and food related you will love this book Deftly and highly entertainingly written you will be caught up in the founding of what we take for granted today whether we are camping out at Motel 6 or ensconced in the presidential suite at the Savoy in present day London I am still laughing at the thought of having to teach these snobs how to flush a toilet that gasp was IN THEIR ROOM vs a wc down the hall or using a water closet fun fact my husband's grandfather refused to have an indoor bathroom as late as the 1930s he thought that was the most disgusting thing on the planetThis is a great book for any reader of history traveler or foodie it is certainly being purchased by me and placed on my bookshelf once published Have I mentioned lately how much I miss teaching the World of Food class? Before Ritz and Escoffier hotels were either the house of someone from whom you could wrangle and invitation or a crummy inn where you might sleep with strangers and bedbugs or maybe an exclusive spa that refused to admit nouveau riche Americans or Jews Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier has begun their uiet revolution in hotels in Switzerland and along the holiday coast of France but their paths crossed at the whim of Richard D'Oyly Carte in his new London Savoy hotel D'Oyly Carte might know musical theater but had no sense of the hospitality industry giving Ritz and Escoffier the chance to institute the modernized kitchen brigade system teach guests how to use flush toilets put unaccompanied elite women in the dining room in full view and invent the gentle art of celebrity management Sarah Bernhardt has taken too much chloral in Room 473 Luke Barr explores the advent of the luxe life through the saga of hotelier Cesar Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier whose partnership brought us not only the adjective 'ritzy ' itself no small testament but also such once novel phenomena as hotel rooms with their own bathrooms and innovative dishes like peach Melba It's a charming tale of success scandal and redemption complete with an unexpected villain I received an ARC of this book through the Vine programCesar Ritz was already on his way to making a name for himself before Richard D'Oyly Carte convinced him to come to London for a short stay to help get the new Savoy Hotel on its feet Ritz brought along Auguste Escoffier to take care of the food side of the service Both men remained much longer than they had expected to and were instrumental in changing the old rules of accommodation and dining for their wealthy patrons The juggling act of including new money patrons with the aristocratic customers was deftly handled by Ritz Escoffier began to educate the palates of Englishmen who were inclined to entertain at home During these late years in the reign of ueen Victoria the social climate was changing as and money was being made through trade not inheritance D'Oyly Carte was content to allow Ritz and Escoffier to run the Savoy as they saw fit until the profits began to disappear Through a combination of bad management and conducting business as it had always been done the men were on a collision course with disasterRitz and Escoffier worked so well together they established the standards for luxury and indulgence in hotels throughout Europe This book is a look at what went wrong at the Savoy after everything had gone so right From there Ritz and Escoffier continued to run hotels only now as owners or partners Their willingness to use modern technology such as 24 hour electricity throughout the hotel and elevators which worked round the clock made their properties the destination of choice by those who could afford to stay thereThis book gives readers a look at an important age of social change Ritz was such a forward thinker he didn't hesitate to break down the old rules of who would be allowed access to the finest luxuries in lodging and food His efforts were directly responsible for women dining in a public place when unaccompanied by a man It seems that Ritz was constantly working to loosen the strictures of society in order to make his hotels financially successful but also to give genuine pleasure and comfort to patrons Escoffier changed the entire atmosphere of the kitchen and provided an example of how a kitchen could be run to remove the turmoil which had been known to rule there These are food service standards which are still practiced today Both men had a proven impact on how the two industries they represented were changing with the times The hotel and food service industries would never be the same The information is available in an easy to read narrative but I have to admit to finding the book easy to put down This book might be of interest to readers with a special interest in the food and lodging industries Well researched but the writing was meh It didn’t draw me in There is something wonderfully gossipy about Ritz Escoffier the hotelier the chef and the rise of the leisure class In tracing the rise of the luxurious Savoy Hotel under the leadership of César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier Luke Barr grants readers a glimpse into some of the biggest scandals of the Belle Époue letting us get up close and personal with the celebrities involved Barr also provides luscious descriptions of extravagant parties held at the hotel These parties are filled with glitterati living the highlife But they are also rife with conseuences for the people working to make them happen Take for example the time that the Duc D’Orleans and the Prince of Wales who hated each other both wanted extravagant royal parties held at the Savoy on the same night Ritz didn’t have the space Unless he could retrofit a basement at the last minute and turn it from a damp hot unused billiard room into a space fit for a royal wedding reception while Escoffier produced not one but two different epic banuets What follows is full of drama fancy dresses and luscious desserts As figures who rocked the world stage at the turn of the century show up at the Savoy you gentle reader get to find out if Oscar Wilde was a good tipper Will Gilbert and Sullivan ever mend their relationship and get back to making opera? Is Sarah Bernhardt okay? This book gives you a slice of life view of these celebrated people through the humanizing lens of Ritz and Escoffier’s lives And Ritz and Escoffier for all the drama surrounding them move through their lives dedicated to their crafts They do things that no one else ever had maybe that no one else ever could John Rogers a writer on the television show Leverage calls the thrill of “watching smart people tackle tasks with freaky aptitude competency porn Beyond the gossip and the history Ritz and Escoffier the hotelier the chef and the rise of the leisure class is excellent competency porn Both Ritz and Escoffier were masters of their art and reading about how they performed for the great the good and the nouveau riche is deeply satisfyingReviewed by Andrea Borchert Librarian Science Technology Patents Department I enjoyed this book but it is not for everyoneThe history is interesting but Escoffiers menus were a little tedious after the second multi course oneIt would make a fun movie with the ritzy hotels and period costumes A highly readable and entertaining book about Ritz and Escoffier two figures who revolutionised luxury and pleasure perhaps most notably in changing who should get to experience it Throughout the book Barr gives us compelling insights into the minds of the characters and threads together unfolding stories with a strong grasp of pace and detail As someone interested in food I particularly enjoyed reading about Escoffier's approach to cooking and eating especially as his name is still so revered in the field of cooking today 45 stars César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier teamed up in the 1890s changing the hotel and restaurant industries first in London at the Savoy Hotel then in Paris and eventually the world They brought a new sophistication and sense of luxury in everything they did from room decor the treatment of guests and how food is prepared Under their direction the Savoy with its modern electric lights elevators en suite bathrooms and superior restaurant became THE hotel destination in London After leaving the Savoy under a cloud of scandal Ritz and Escoffier opened The Ritz Hotel in Paris outdoing the Savoy in many ways They also became involved with the Carlton Hotel in London again besting the Savoy on it’s own turf Ritz and Escoffier recognized that there was a wealthy class to be catered to and they set the standard for how to do it The word “ritzy” eventually became synonymous with style and glamourThe book is incredibly well written almost reading like a good novel The ups and downs of their lives make for a compelling story Not much back story is given about their lives the book mainly concentrating on their remarkable collaboration So much of what we take for granted in the hotel and restaurant industries was developed by these two pioneers There is a lot of name dropping in terms of who they catered to There are delectable descriptions of the food Escoffier cooked And if you can get through this book without the song “Putting on the Ritz” constantly going through your head well you’re a better person than I am I definitely recommend this book It is a delight to read and wonderfully informative Luke Barr who has written before on high profile chefs provides a dual biography of Cesar Ritz and August Eschffier the hotelier and chef who together invented 20th century models for the luxury hotel with the world class restaurant attached to it and serving the most prestigious customers in the world The book chronicles the rise of the duo from early successes in Europe to their breakout at the Savoy Hotel in London to their move back to Paris to found the Ritz Hotel to their subseuent expansions after 1900 Eventually the world changes WW1 and time catches up with the pair Their influence is still around both directly Ritz Carlton Hotels; Ritz Crackers and indirectly the Home Alone movies; Eloise at the Plaza; even the hotel environment in “A Gentleman in Moscow” We take the combination of world class hotels and top flight dining as a given and yet Barr shows this is a fairly recent development dating from the last decades of the 19th centuryWhat did I like about the book? The story about restaurants and hotels is a good one but it cannot be the key It cannot just be about the food especially what we now know and what the scolds never tire of repeating about the health benefits of gourmet eating Living well took its toll on many of the principals in this book Mr Barr provides lots of interesting detail into how all the different aspects of this complex product had to fit together for the overall result to be successful This took to powerful integrating eye of Cesar Ritz to balance the impossible set of variables that were of potential interest for discerning and wealthy customers A good example of this is the discussion of how Ritz decided on the lighting schemes for his Ritz Hotel before it opened in ParisThe product is indeed a fascinating one and Mr Barr’s book provides a lot of nifty detail about how the business works and how Ritz made his choices Imagine how difficult of a business this must be given the variety of different customers the wide range of possible offerings and the cutthroat competition in which an establishment would get one chance to captivate a customer and would lose them forever if the customer was not enthralled Having said that there was not enough said about the broader business model including the financing pricing and broader supply chain In a business where key ingredients are sourced globally and stakeholders are numerous and complexly intertwined how does the business model generate profits for those who are good at it? This is far from obvious I know that the world of financing and social media and suppliers has moved on to modern conditions the basic problem persists How does one create price and sustain an adventure catering to those who literally have money to burn? Mr Barr provides tantalizing hints of this world in his discussion of the situations that forced Ritz and Escoffier to leave the Savoy and go to Paris They are only tasty tidbits however and discussion of this would have helped the book It is no doubt true that personal relationships dominate this sort of business but the numbers involved in these businesses are no doubt staggering and telling the interpersonal narratives does not get to the heart of how this sort of business worked then or works todayHaving said that I will note that there are few if any books about high end restaurants that are really satisfying and Mr Barr’s book is one of the better ones currently on offer