Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When restaurants were restaurants, and chefs were chefs: Adolphe Dugléré

Continuing yesterday's theme of food and restaurants, let's take a look at a chef, from a time before chain restaurants, and when chefs were chefs and not TV stars: Adolphe Dugléré . He was born on 3 June 1805 in Bordeaux, France, died in 1884.

Dugléré was a pupil of Marie Antoine (Antonin) Carême, head chef of the Rothschild family. In 1866 Dugléré became head chef of a famous 19th century Paris restaurant, the Cafe Anglais. He is generally credited with creating the potato dish, Pommes Anna, said to have been named after actress Dame Judic (real name: Anna Damiens/Anna DesLions. He also created Germiny Soup, a cream of sorrel soup, dedicated to the head of the Banque de France, the Comte de Germiny.

It was at the Cafe Anglais that Duglere served the famous banquet, 'Dinner of the Three Emperors,' on 7 June 1867, for Tsar Alexander II of Russia, and King William I of Prussia. Opened in 1802, the restaurant was named in honor of the Treaty of Amiens, a peace accord signed between Britain and France. In the beginning, its clientele were coachmen and domestic servants but later became frequented by actors and patrons of the nearby Opera House. It was after the arrival of chef Adolphe Dugléré that the Café Anglais achieved its highest gastronomic reputation. It was then frequented by the wealthy and the aristocracy of Paris.

The Dinner of the Three Emperors was, acording to King William I of Prussia who frequented the cafe during the Exposition Universelle, to be a meal to be remembered and at which no expense was to be spared for himself and his guests, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, plus his son the tsarevitch (who later became Tsar Alexander III), and Prince Otto von Bismarck.

The banquet consisted of 16 courses with eight wines served over eight hours. Full details at Wikipedia HERE. The cost of the meal was, back then, 400 francs per person. When a chef of today tried to replicate the menu as far as possible in the 21st century, the cost turned out to be in the region of $7,500 per head , (another source calculated it at 9,000 Euros per head).

At 1 o'clock in the morning, Tsar Alexander is reported to have complained that the meal had not contained foie gras. Burdel explained that it was not the custom in French cuisine to eat foie gras in June. The Tsar was satisfied with the answer. Each emperor was sent a terrine of foie gras as a gift the following October.

TSK!!!!! (I shall limit myself to just that).

Adolphe Dugléré was described as a taciturn and serious person who demanded ingredients of the highest quality and abhorred drunkenness and smoking. He forbade his employees to smoke even outside of the workplace. Neither were customers allowed to smoke until dinner was over, at which time the maître d’hôtel went from table to table lighting cigars. Little more is known about him because he left no publications but he did leave some notebooks which are on permanent loan to the National Library in Paris.

This chef's natal chart, set for 12 noon as no time of birth is available:

Sun conjunct Venus in Gemini; if I didn't know this was the chart of a chef I'd have guessed at someone in the arts - writing, painting. Chefs are artists too - with food. I like to see some Taurus emphasis in a chef's chart, Taurus surely has to be the "foodiest" sign in the zodiac, and Mercury is there in Dugléré's chart.

Chef's Moon would have been in either early Virgo or late Leo. I'd bet on Virgo, bearing in mind the descriptions above: "taciturn", "serious", demanding of the best, fastidious in requirements of staff and customers. Moon was quite likely conjunct Mars in Leo too. Mars here could add touch of aggression to his demanding nature. I found, during my times working in hotel offices in my youth, that chefs on the whole were quite an aggressive species. I've seen more than one chef, brandishing a knife, pursuing a waiter around his kitchen. I guess working in constant heat and pressure could do that to a person.

Uranus conjunct Saturn in Libra; Neptune conjunct Jupiter in Scorpio. Uranus and Saturn, usually opposites, here perhaps reflect the chef's inventiveness (Uranus) in his work (Saturn) environment - new dishes and methods. Neptune and Jupiter conjoined in the Scorpio and Sagittarius cusp area: Jupiter in its own sign has to mean excess, with Neptune so close, perhaps even an addiction to excess. Maybe I'm being adversely influenced by that obscenely excessive menu described in the post though!

PS:There are some archived posts featuring chefs, accessible by - would ya believe - clicking on "chefs" in the label cloud in the sidebar.


mike said...

Restaurant staff tend to be a very diverse sort: drifters, grifters, serious foodies. I worked as a busboy at an upscale hotel when in my teens and the staff was an eclectic blend, slightly dysfunctional, somewhat like a family. There were interpersonal conflicts, yet caring and good-natured people.

I'm always surprised when I see some news item regarding several members of congress' dining tab at some trendy restaurant setting the taxpayers back the cost of a new house. In today's headlines is a boxer not leaving a tip for a $25,320 tab. Here's a hot dog for $2,300:

I occasionally watch "America's Test Kitchen" and it's often mentioned how particular foods originated and the methods of preparation over the decades or centuries. Raw materials and equipment during Duglere's reign would have been vastly more difficult or non-existent. Most food combinations that we take for granted were considered amazing feats of creation back then. Most working-class people ate a very basic meal at that time and prior.

I've read over the past year that super-computer-Watson has entered the culinary field and has done so with superb results:
"Watson, you might remember, crushed it on Jeopardy! back in February 2011. Since then, researchers at IBM have teamed up with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. They've re-programmed Watson to serve as a sort of sous-chef that can spit out novel ingredient combinations and recipes on command."

Twilight said...

mike ~ I found the same thing during my years in hotels - lots of oddball characters among the staff, but yes, we became like a kind of temporary family to one another. Living in, as I always did made it seem even more that way. By the way, husband also worked as a busboy in a Kansas hotel in his teens. :-)

Things haven't changed much as regards excessive spending on feeding certain of TPTB, it seems. It's as much an obscenity, now as it was then.

Interesting points on history of food preparation - and "Watson".
Maybe "Watson" is the reason I occasionally notice some peculiar piece on Huff-Post about bacon-flavoured ice cream or some such monstrosity. :-(

LB said...

The "Three Emperors Dinner" reminds me of one of my husband's favorite movies, "Babette's Feast". If you haven't seen it and want to, it's on Youtube. The thoughtful preparation of good food can definitely be a form of art!

Much as I love to eat and enjoy cooking (my husband raves about my own very modest talents), I'm way too practical to make a good foodie. Then again, I don't get big *expensive* weddings either.

As an aside, foie gras seems unnecessarily cruel.:(

Twilight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Twilight said...

LB ~ LB ~ I don't know that film - will investigate. :-)

I've cooked from time to time in my life, cant claim to be more than "capable when necessary"; even ran a small cafe for a time with first husband (back in the 1960s). It's not my favourite thing to do, and as current husband enjoys cooking he volunteers! :-) Worked out well!

Agree 100% on huge expensive weddings. Never did understand that kind of nonsensical spending.

I've never tasted foie gras, and never likely to. Another cruel food-related practice, the way farmers/butchers obtain veal


James Higham said...

Speaking my language here. Fascinating.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ One o' them there foodies eh?

mike (again) said...

"Babette's Feast" is an excellent movie...I'd forgotten about it til now, LB, and Babette was a chef at Cafe Anglais, so a good tie-in with Twilight's post.

Another food-related book-movie is "Like Water for Chocolate"...one of my favorites. And "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover".

I, too, am a foie gras virgin and shall stay that way.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I saw the Cook, thief, Wife, Lover movie once upon a time, but don't remember much aboutit.

The two films I remember seeing in the recent past, relating to restaurants or food are "No Reservations", which had a great soundtrack - so good that I bought the CD after seeing the movie - Italian and operatic stuff. Just pulled it out a min. ago to listen to again tomorrow. :-)
And "Julie and Julia" - saw that on TV not long ago.