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post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
i have a copy of the escoffier cookbook dated 1941. i have been told by a book collector that it is a first edition. it is also signed in french. if anyone has any information about this book it would be very helpful. thanks!:rolleyes:
post #2 of 15
My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
post #3 of 15

Escoffier Book


Not sure what it is - Le Guide Culinaire (excuse spelling) (A guide to modern cookery) was about 1908 and co authored by Mons Herbadou his second chef, (Premier Sous Chef in the full brigade) who was far more literate.

As an aside, it have been nice to walk into a book shop and only have a few quality books to choose from - today, it's a problem - at lease in the UK.
post #4 of 15
The Guide Culinaire was first published in French in 1903, and in English in 1907. The current fourth edition was fist published in French in 1921, and English 1979.

I never heard of Herbadou and can find no reference to him with Escoffier or the Guide. That doesn't mean anything other than I can't find it. I'd be gratified if JT could flesh this out.

Escoffier published several other books, but none with the importance of the Guide. Yours may be one of these, but since you didn't supply the title it's hard to tell.

Auguste Escoffier died in 1935, so the signature is not by the author.

Your 1941 book may have been the first American printing of the second edition of the Guide or something along those lines; or it may have something to do with one of Escoffier's other books. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the kind of significance you seem to be hoping for. And, as I said, the signature cannot be Escoffier's.

Hope this helps to straighten things out. Sorry it isn't what you hoped for.

post #5 of 15



Thanks for the correction - i did not have my copy to hand with the details on the copyright page of course.

So i also spelt Eugene Herbodeau's name incorrectly. (a chef with herb in his name!). Indeed i believe he was Escoffier's number two but i'll have to dig out the reference to find which hotel that was, (maybe Savoy).

I had found an article by Herbodeau entitled "Science Rules the Roast" Today, in 1938 copy of Caterer and Hotel Keeper about refrigeration. Herbodeau was quite a progressive bloke by all accounts and is much under rated. In fact i was told by a former tutor (who sadly died earlier this year aged 91) the Herbodeau wrote most of Le Guide.

How did my former tutor, Harry Cracknell know? and Why did i believe him? Harry translated Escoffier from french to english, (1979) was awarded Le Grand Culinarire from the ACF, knew Escoffier's grand son very well and had full access to the Escoffier archives. In addition to the many books he had already published, he wrote Escoffiers biography but didn't publish it as another had recently come out at the time.

I had agreed to help write Harry's own autobiography last year but we put it off for some reasons - all those fascinating stories of the West End of London before the Second World War, etc lost.

I'm beginning to ramble.
post #6 of 15


Do you know where I find out more information on Herbodeau? About biography and articles like the one you found out on Science Rules the Roast. I do also have an Escoffier cookbook and find that the cookbooks are great especially when you know the method you can figure out how to do the recipe and tweak it to your own liking.
post #7 of 15



i still haven't been able to locate references from my archives (in a shed in the garden!). However, there are a couple of books that give good references to the history of catering and include references to Eugene Herbodeau

Fortune Fame and Folly 1878-1978 by Derek Taylor and
Escoffier: King of Chefs by Ken James and Kenneth James

Get them on abebooks, if available?

I believe that Herbodeau was eventually head chef at the Savoy (London). There are other clever chefs of the time although completely masked by Escoffier.

I do not know of any book that Herbodeau did on his own but who knows what might be around; there were loads of small publications at the time.

Good to experiment with old recipes if the ingredients are avaliable and of course those that are may be different from 100 odd years ago. I knew a few cookery teachers who did quite a lot of that kind of thing and found it very interesting and i believe tasty!

Perhaps we need a big thread on History of Cookery - what people know, old stories from the past, "Cheftalkcafe History Book! "Any chance Moderator?"
post #8 of 15

Armed with the right name I was able to do some research and found that Herbodeau was born in 1888, and was a commis with some poisson responsibility at the Carlton in 1913. He left to fight in WWI. When his regiment was demobilized not long after Armistice, he returned and was quickly promoted to Chef Saucier. He appears to have been Escoffier's literary co-executor after Escoffier's death in 1935. Herbodeau published a few books including an important biography of Escoffier, Georges Auguste Escoffier, in 1955, which he co-wrote with Paul Thalamas -- the other co-executor.

To my mind, this snippet of biography available makes it unlikely by virtue of age and status that Herbodeau made any contribution to the first edition of the Guide which was published in 1903. However, he certainly could have been involved with later editions as well as some of the other books Escoffier wrote.

On Edit: In the James biography of Escoffier, it appears Herbodeau may have overestimated his importance to Escoffier and the degree of attention Escoffier gave him relative to others -- as did many other chefs who claimed Escoffier as their mentor. (See, Escoffier, King of Chefs, Kenneth James, p. 208.) Apparently, Escoffier had the gift of making others believe they were the primary recipient of his professional affection.

post #9 of 15

escoffier etc

Mons. BDL

thank you for putting things on the right track. However, i've always felt that
Eugene Herbodeau was a bit forward looking - impressed mostly by an article on refrigeration in 1938 he wrote. Pity that my former tutor died earlier this year as he might have been able to add something via Escoffier's grandson - maybe to give some further insight into Escoffier's personality.

I've no doubt that Escoffier was a very strong disciplinarian, as i myself worked in the West End of London (Saucier) in the 1960's and a bit of the old school was still there. Don't know what you yourself think of today's picture; although quite varied some elements aren't to my liking i have to say.

What about getting a Thread on Culinary History and old stories - i mention it to you as you are obviously a much older hand on the Cct than myself and would more likely be able to influence the Moderator(s)?

Best wishes

post #10 of 15
If you want to get honorific, you'll have to stick with Mr., as I'm an "Esq."

I'm getting a lot of nudging about finishing my book. For heaven's sake track down some other people and put your stories together.

The first kitchen I worked in was an old line "French" restaurant in San Francisco called the Blue Fox in the early seventies that was very much Escoffier brigade run by an alcoholic who was something of a martinet. Fortunately, he liked me. Like Herbodeau I went from prep-commis to saute and it didn't take me a war to do it. The second culinary job I had was in a kitchen run very informally by an Berkeley professor of English and an unlicensed architect. The kitchen worked very well, and what drama there was coalesced around coming up with something new rather than nit-picking. It was assumed you were doing your best. If you did not or your best wasn't good enough, there was always someone else to take your place. On the whole, I'll take "B."

Sounds like it could be a plan. But for the meantime let's continue to interact like this and maybe through e-mail and/or PM. I'm interested in doing a book with more to it than just recipes and technique. You seem very interested and knowledgeable. It may be selfish, but I'd like to get in on some of your knowledge and twist it to my own selfish purposes.

post #11 of 15

escoffier still causing a stir - good!

A lot of the kind of knowledge you'd like died with a former tutor of mine earlier this year (as previously mentioned). His name was Harry Cracknell who did the 1979 edition of Guide to Modern Cookery, etc etc.. (He didn't use a computer by the way for any of his dozen odd publications!).

However, firstly i shall be only too happy to pass on any little bits of knowledge, anecdotes etc i may have of interest.

Secondly, at some stage i could contact Harry's widow and try to find out how you get in contact with Escoffier's grandson (assuming that he is still alive).

My own background i did 10 years in the kitchens initially, including three years in the West End in a full brigade, before going into teaching. There's a bit about my background on Practical HACCP - Home. Our Chef de Cuisine was french and never sober, although a gentleman. I was chef de partie on the sauce but some of the older guys in that kitchen - their knowledge was absolutely amazing.

Now it's superstars and that well known commodity B---S---. we used to call them 'chancers' It's difficult to evaluate todays scene but i do feel sure that improvement could be made with some reflection on the past.

The point about the Thread/title thing was a bit like the audio-history diary where old folks talk about their past. Of course this would be written.
post #12 of 15
They go before we realize how important they were and how fleeting time. Even as we move through middle age we see the generation ahead of us as nearly immortal, and their disappearance surprises. Oh what a piece of work is man.

I'm interested, but only as a sort of sideshow for a different circus. I'm not nearly as interested in the history as you.

Our brigade experiences are very similar, although you persevered while I left to pursue other interests.

I wish you'd had the chance to work in the Chez Panisse kitchen under Aratow and/or Tower. The head chefs, and yes there were two of them because Aratow was trying to ease his way out, were both more or less self taught, and whatever Tower knew practically he'd learned on the job. It was a very, very different sort of place. We were serving a new menu every day, during a period of time when the place had been identified as one of the best restaurants in the country. The pressure to both cook well and bring in new ideas was too intense add more pressure and waste time by screaming about imperfectly plating the garniture. We just put everything on its own plate. With the main all alone on a large one. In case you ever wondered how the "California Cuisine" plating style started, now you know.

I haven't spent meaningful time in a commercial kitchen for nearly thirty years.

It's definitely a worthwhile undertaking. As to starting a thread, I don't have any drag around this forum, I just started posting here a few months ago myself.

post #13 of 15

Escoffier and other issues

Very interesting reply and much to think about.

Well, i have even less 'drag' than you. So what about one of those things for us oldies who have something to remember and pass on. I got it wrong, yet again - it's called a Sub-Forum. They have to be put on from behind the scenes i know. I suppose there hasn't been a great deal of history in the past on this site, but we could encourage contributions as there's plenty of culinary history not written, but in people's heads that needs to be written.

One interesting story i heard: My old tutor was in the army during the second world was and in charge of a kitchen where the troops wanted fish and chips (being British of course). Unfortunately, the fresh fish available was as tough as old boots and there were no potatoes. Now chefs are highly innovative! What they did have were thousands of tins of Pilchards in tomatoe sauce and fresh aubergines.
The tomato sauce was washed off the pilchards, floured and battered and deep fried and this apparently wasn't too bad. Unfortunately you can't make chips (french fries) out of aubergines.

Innovation in the kitchen? There was plenty in the french kitchen and many dishes were created that way. Perhaps the one above isn't really a classic!
post #14 of 15
I'm hoping you two keep this discussion going (and not move it to PM), as I'm enjoying it very much. :bounce:


travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #15 of 15


Thanks Mike

Not sure what PM is though - shows my ignorance - but i can learn.

Escoffier did make a big contribution to culinary practices apart from all the romantic stuff. It would be great if others came in on this and examined contributions from other well known figures as well. Such discussion can be a useful learning thing.

Apart from his culinary flare which is undisputed he did create much terminology which can be traced back to his army days.
The kitchen 'brigade' saucepans etc 'batterie' orders from the store room 'requisitions' customer requests food 'orders' not to mention the strict hierarchy and in the old days the height and shape of a chefs hat to denote position and/or speciality.

Well of course many don't wear hats :chef:these days as being unsexy?

So, who's your hero from bygone days?
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