Biographical info Food for Thought: Auguste Escoffier: Biographical info
By Southern (Southern) on Sunday, February 21, 1999 - 12:53 am: Edit

On October 28, 1846, Georges Auguste Escoffier was born at Villeneuve-Loubet, Alpes-Maritimes, France, the son of a blacksmith (Jean-Baptiste Escoffier) and his wife (Madeleine Civatte). When young, he dreamed of becoming a sculptor but was instead forced, at age 13, to become an apprentice in his uncle François’ restaurant in Nice, working in a kitchen with no electricity, no gas, and no running water, at a time when, in his words, "high society held little esteem for the profession of cook." However, his was an inspired life which forever changed that situation, as this talented artist became "the king of chefs and the chef of kings" over the course of more than 60 years of active culinary service. During the Franco-Prussian War, he became chef de cuisine for two major General Headquarters of the French Army ... first serving Second Division Headquarters when he was called up with the reserve forces, then Marshal MacMahon of the First Army Corps (who later served as second President of the Third Republic) while both were prisoners of war. After being released, Escoffier opened his own restaurant in Cannes, married a prominent editor's daughter (Delphine Daffis, with whom he had three children), and cooked in Paris, Lucerne, and Monte Carlo. In 1890, he was given direction of the kitchens at the Savoy Hotel in London by manager César Ritz. In 1899, he followed Ritz to the Carlton Hotel in London, where Escoffier built a fabulous reputation for haute cuisine and world-class restaurant management over the next 21 years. His patrons included aristocrats and politicians, gamblers and courtesans, such notable divas as actress Sarah Bernhardt and coloratura soprano Adelina Patti, the writer Emile Zola, and royal heads of state which included Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and His Majesty Edward VII, King of England. Among Escoffier’s most famous creations were pêche Melba (named for Australian lyric and coloratura soprano Nellie Melba) and chaud-froid Jeannette (commemorating a ship trapped in polar ice). He contributed regularly to French culinary magazines and journals, as well as publishing several books, the best known including Le Guide Culinaire (1903), Le Carnet d’Epicure (1911), Le Livre de Menus (1912), and Ma Cuisine (1934). In recognition of his lifelong efforts to enhance the prestige of French cooking abroad, he was presented the Croix de la Légion d’Honneur by French president Raymond Poincaré in 1920 and was raised to Officier de la Légion d’Honneur at a magnificent banquet in Paris at the Palais d’Orsay in 1928. Two weeks after the death of his wife, he died at the family home in Monte Carlo on February 12, 1935.

© Southern, 1999. All rights reserved.


Auguste Escoffier, The Escoffier Cookbook: A Guide to the Fine Art of French Cuisine. American edition of Le guide culinaire. Translator not credited. (NY: Crown Publishers, 1969), endleaf.

Auguste Escoffier, Ma Cuisine. Translated by Vyvyan Holland. (NY: Bonanza Books, 1984), endleaf.

Auguste Escoffier, Memories of My Life. Translated by Laurence Escoffier. (NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997), pp. 235 - 242.

Encyclopædia Britannica, "Escoffier, Georges Auguste (1846 - 1935)" and "MacMahon, Marie Edmé Patrice Maurice de, Duc de Magenta (1808 - 1893)." (Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1968), Vol. 8, p. 698 and Vol. 14, p. 541, respectively.

By Southern (Southern) on Wednesday, March 10, 1999 - 11:40 pm: Edit

Escoffier married Delphine Daffis in August 1878, the year of the World's Fair in Paris. They had three children (Paul, Daniel, and Germaine). Escoffier died of kidney failure (uremia) in February 1935, two weeks after Delphine's death.

Auguste Escoffier, Memories of My Life. Translated by Laurence Escoffier. (NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997).


Eugène Herbodeau and Paul Thalamas, Georges Auguste Escoffier. (London: Practical Press Ltd, 1955).

See Forum in a Frame