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Dedicated to Auguste Escoffier the King of Chefs

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Old British Institutions
Lieutenant-Colonel Newman Davis
The London Times, Monday, June 8, 1914
Page 14

Savoy, Carlton and Ritz

The Savoy Hotel Dining Room where Escoffier was Chef de Cuisine in 1914

There have been forerunners of the typical restaurants of to-day, for the Berkley and the Bristol had begun to form the taste of the epicures to short dinners before Mr. D’Orly Carte and his co-directors built, in the eighties, the great Savoy Hotel on the piece of waste land by the Savoy Theatre, and brought over M. Ritz from Monte Carlo to manage the restaurant. Ritz came, and with him as chef de cuisine Escoffier. The restaurant at the Savoy was then a great room paneled with mahogany and with a ceiling of dead gold. M. Ritz was a real missionary of good taste, and taught Englishmen with money to spend a short dinner perfectly cooked and served amidst surrounding of luxury was the ideal feast. In M. Escoffier he had found the greatest cook of our generation, probably the greatest cook, since the days of Careme. The enormously expensive dinners given at the Savoy by American millionaires at the time of the South African boom were eccentricities, and so were the “freak” dinners given by Mr. Kessler, an agent of the great champagne firm, during one of which Caruso sang from a gondola in the courtyard turned into a lagoon. The Savoy has constantly added to its building; the restaurant is now a great cream coloured dining place with a splendid ante-room and a winter garden, and with ball rooms and banquet rooms in the storeys below it. In the nineties Ritz and Escoffier left the Savoy, being succeeded there by other great maître d’hôtel and well-known cooks, and the Carlton Hotel being built, its directors engage their services.

The Carlton Restaurant, with its light decoration, its mirrors, and its little oeil-de-beouf windows, is a charming restaurant, and its palm court, in which the orchestra plays, has been copied by all the new great hotels throughout Europe. There M. Escoffier remains as chef de cuisine. M. Ritz has not finished his wanderings, for he went on to the great hotel in Piccadilly which bears his name, and there superintended the establishment of its beautiful Louis XVI, restaurant, its winter garden, magnificent statuary and creamy marble columns, and it’s Marie Antoinette dining room. Two of Jabez Balfours’s great piles of buildings became hotels, and the Cecil Restaurant, now all rose and white, with its magnificent view from the balcony over the Thames, and the Hyde Park Hotel, with its mahogany dining-room and its view over the park, are two of the most sumptuous of the modern hotels, while Berkeley and Claridge’s have been rebuilt and their restaurants are amongst the most luxurious in London. M. Benquist, the provision merchant, turned the Princes’ Restaurant into a temple of the haute cuisine, and all the new big hotels which have grown up by scores in modern London have restaurants as well as grill rooms. Smaller hotels have also become famous for their cuisine; amongst these I single out in particular, Almond’s; the Cavendish, the first proprietress of which is Mrs. Lewis, the first woman cook of to-day; and Brown’s Hotel in Albemarle street, on the site where Grillion, Napoleon’s chef, who emigrated to London on the fall of his master, started a French restaurant which had but a short life. Brown’s became the headquarters in London of the expelled Royalist family all through the Third Empire, and not only the Royal family, but a constant stream of ladies and gentlemen in waiting “descended” there as long as any semblance of French Court was kept up in the Midlands.