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Les Amis d'Escoffier Society Boston, LTD.

Dedicated to Auguste Escoffier the King of Chefs

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But who was Chef Montagne?
He was born in Carcassonne, France in 1865 and eventually progressed through all the levels of the kitchen brigade; including those of great Parisian establishments and the likes of Cauteret, San Remo and Monte Carlo.

Apparently he initially thought of studying towards a career in architecture, but his father had other ideas and made him take up his training as a cook, he did this by buying into an old, dilapidated establishment; the L’Hotel de Quatre Saiason (The Four Seasons Hotel) in Toulouse. A forced career path change I guess we can all be thankful for.

But far from thankful, apparently, was the young Montagne, who from all accounts would take time out during the wee small hours, to try and help with the renovations that transpired at the hotel. To cut short the artistic aspirations of his son, Prosper’s father placed him as an apprentice at the L'h?tel d'Angleterre in Cauterets, where Prosper was entrusted to the one of the best cooks of the time, Chef Alphonse Meillon. Working and training under such a master, Prosper Montagné quickly took to the tasks, the opportunity and the work which at one time he seemed to think unworthy of his talents.

Having learned much from Chef Meillon he travelled to Paris to start at the "Ambassadors" and be part of the brigade of a large hotel, (where as it happens he was to return later in life as Chef de Cuisine). He worked under the direction of Chef Pierre Philippe , then to the Hotel of Paris of Assembles-Carlo until its departure for the military service.

After serving his time in the French Army, (forced military service) he became the Chef de Cuisine of Le Casino de Luchon, then works the winter on the Riviera, for L’Assembles-Carlo. While at Luchon he met his life long friend Chef Prosper Sallas; who had been an apprentice of Philéas Gilbert, which made him the remarkable sous chef he was to Montagne.

But Montagne moves on to a large hotel in Brussels, before returning to Paris to take up a position with the House of Ermenonville at Ledoyen, and finally more or less retires in 1907 to become one of the most famous and respected culinary writers of our time. With unbounded activity, Prosper Montagné wrote an enormous quantity of works and articles. His works are read, at the time, in the majority of the big national dailies and the most important reviews of Paris and the Province.

He became the ‘commissioner’ for the Culinary Exposition of Paris, inspector of food for the publicly-owned hospital, a professor at School of Commerce and also at the ‘Women’s Hotel School along with many other titles and positions.

Somewhere amongst all this, he makes a trip to the United States, where he advises the direction of the slaughter-houses of Chicago.

During the First World War (1914 – 1918) Chef Prosper Montagné organises the central kitchens of the French army and also sets up the famous ‘Ecole des Cuistots’ (Cooks School). With endless enthusiasm he takes it upon himself to take his teachings and thoughts to the four corners of the country and to lecture to very enthusiastic audiences.

Then in 1920, on the corner of Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the Rue de l'Echelle, Chef Montagne, he opens an establishment whose signage carries its new title, simply: ‘Montagné, delicatessen’. It is immediately a hit and in his crisp, white chef’s jacket, the master officiates in front of his customers and prepares the most exquisite dishes for them. But despite its seeming success, the business world was not in his veins and probably due to poor management it is forced to close. He leaves it as poor as when he started it.

He retires to Sevres, to again pick up the pen and publishes ‘La Grande Livre de Cuisine’ in 1929 which he collaborates on with Pierre Salles. It is a clearly a titanic task; where this well read man with his vast professional knowledge continues to share on each page his unquestionably wealth of all things gastronomic.

Prosper Montagné, in his last years, was called in as a quality technical adviser by Mr. André, the director/owner of the Restaurant de la Reine Pédauque. Where he was again able to work in front of the customers as it had formerly done in his own establishment.

The Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur of the Legion of Honour; Chef Prosper Montagné passed away in Sevres, France on April 22nd, 1948 at the age of 83. Carrying with him forever the high regard of his peers and the thoughts of his many pupils, apprentices and friends.

* 1846
Georges Auguste Escoffier, born October 28, 1846, d. Feb. 12, 1935

1865
Escoffier starts his Military service and here he learns the art of wax flower making

1870
Escoffier was made the Chef de Cuisine for the French Army Officers when war broke out

1898
Cesar Ritz and Escoffier opened the Hotel Ritz in Paris: the Ritz was inaugurated on June 1, 1898, on the historic Place Vend?me, constructed by Hardouin-Mansart, the architect of Versailles.

20th Century

1900
Escoffier and Cesar opened the Carlton in London which served 500 covers at service with a kitchen brigade of 60.
The standard can for processed food was first used in the early 1900s

1901
The famous team of Cesar Ritz and Escoffier broke up when Cesar had a nervous breakdown.

1919
August Escoffier retires aged 73 from the Carlton in London
Conrad Hilton bought his first hotel; the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas.

1920
Escoffier was awarded the Legion d'Honneur.

1935
Georges Auguste Escoffier, died February 12, 1935
Insitut National des Appellations d'Origin created in France to control the production, quality of wine. It is made up of wine professionals and representatives of other interested/concerned bodies.