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When the Savoy Hotel in London first opened in 1889, the upper crust of society thought its work-

Jonathan

ings to be a feat of magic. Early advertisements detailed its enchanted architecture, declaring that electric lights operated night and day, “ascending rooms” ran all night taking you straight to your floor, hallways were heated at all hours, and seventy bathrooms were available (in comparison to

1 Stanley Jackson, The Savoy: The Romance of a Great Hotel (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1964), 20.. 2 Sally Shalam, “Hotel Review: The Savoy, The Strand, London,” The Guardian, May 6, 2011. Accessed online at http://www. theguardian.com/ travel/2011/may/06/ london-the-savoyhotel-review.

3

Marie Louise Ritz, César Ritz: Host to the World (New York: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1938), 110.

the nearest competition’s four bathrooms).1 Even today, after a recent renovation, the travel critic of The Guardian could only explain its opulence and unyielding service as “sleight of hand.”2 There is one figure, in particular, who helped conjure this aura: Georges Auguste Escoffier. Owner Richard D’Oyly Carte hired César Ritz—who would later go on to establish the Ritz hotels—to run the Savoy but both men gave credit to Escoffier, Ritz’s partner and chef de cuisine, for transforming the experience of public dining from grotesque to enchanted. Ritz’s wife and biographer Marie Louise Ritz spoke even of Escoffier’s name as “magic.”3 While Escoffier produced a dining experience that seemed so magical it altered common social practices, he also set a path which ultimately led to today’s most disenchanted gustatory experiences. Escoffier’s initial ascendance to fame came immediately after his return from the Franco-Prussian

Crisman

War. Before the war, he had been a kitchen aide at Le Petit Moulin Rouge in Paris and upon his return, he became the chef de cuisine. The restaurant

JONATHAN CRISMAN

1

MAGICAL DINING MODERN CUISINE

FIGURE 1 New Year’s Eve party published in The Illustrated London News, 1907.

2


When the Savoy Hotel in London first opened in 1889, the upper crust of society thought its work-

Jonathan

ings to be a feat of magic. Early advertisements detailed its enchanted architecture, declaring that electric lights operated night and day, “ascending rooms” ran all night taking you straight to your floor, hallways were heated at all hours, and seventy bathrooms were available (in comparison to

1 Stanley Jackson, The Savoy: The Romance of a Great Hotel (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1964), 20.. 2 Sally Shalam, “Hotel Review: The Savoy, The Strand, London,” The Guardian, May 6, 2011. Accessed online at http://www. theguardian.com/ travel/2011/may/06/ london-the-savoyhotel-review.

3

Marie Louise Ritz, César Ritz: Host to the World (New York: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1938), 110.

the nearest competition’s four bathrooms).1 Even today, after a recent renovation, the travel critic of The Guardian could only explain its opulence and unyielding service as “sleight of hand.”2 There is one figure, in particular, who helped conjure this aura: Georges Auguste Escoffier. Owner Richard D’Oyly Carte hired César Ritz—who would later go on to establish the Ritz hotels—to run the Savoy but both men gave credit to Escoffier, Ritz’s partner and chef de cuisine, for transforming the experience of public dining from grotesque to enchanted. Ritz’s wife and biographer Marie Louise Ritz spoke even of Escoffier’s name as “magic.”3 While Escoffier produced a dining experience that seemed so magical it altered common social practices, he also set a path which ultimately led to today’s most disenchanted gustatory experiences. Escoffier’s initial ascendance to fame came immediately after his return from the Franco-Prussian

Crisman

War. Before the war, he had been a kitchen aide at Le Petit Moulin Rouge in Paris and upon his return, he became the chef de cuisine. The restaurant

JONATHAN CRISMAN

1

MAGICAL DINING MODERN CUISINE

FIGURE 1 New Year’s Eve party published in The Illustrated London News, 1907.

2


served royalty, celebrities, and socialites—and it was this experience that led him to begin developing recipes based on his favorite (and, most often, female) clients: les suprêmes de poulets George Sand or, later at the Savoy, pêche Melba. His impeccable food preparation and novel recipes wowed and delighted his guests to an extent never before seen. Escoffier divulged his secret to one colleague,

An artist’s rendering of the Savoy’s backof-house, 1911. From Stanley Jackson, The Savoy: Romance of a Great Hotel (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1964), inset.

explaining that his “success comes from the fact

4

that my best dishes were created for ladies.”4 While this suggestion, mentioned in all Escoffier’s biographies and memoirs, is usually inadequately justified with the explanation that women were

Eugène Herbodeau and Paul Thalamas, George Auguste Escoffier (London: Practical Press, 1955), 41.

not often welcome into dining rooms up until this

5

which Escoffier deployed behind the scenes to suc-

His lectures popularized the term “Industrial Revolution” and spread awareness of its impacts right around the time of the Savoy’s opening. See Alfred Toynbee, Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England (London: Rivington’s, 1884).

point in time, and that women have some innate sense of gustatory taste, it actually served as a diversion from the host of technological developments cessfully produce his meals. Aside from his culinary skills and prolific invention of popular recipes, Escoffier is most widely known as the creator of the brigade de cuisine. Now in standard use, the system established a clear hierarchy in the kitchen, as well as specialized duties for various staff members: the saucier in charge of making sauces, the pâtissier for pastries, and so on. Coincident with Arnold Toynbee’s popularization of the understanding of the Industrial Revolution,5 and with Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific

JONATHAN CRISMAN

JONATHAN CRISMAN

3

FIGURE 1

4


served royalty, celebrities, and socialites—and it was this experience that led him to begin developing recipes based on his favorite (and, most often, female) clients: les suprêmes de poulets George Sand or, later at the Savoy, pêche Melba. His impeccable food preparation and novel recipes wowed and delighted his guests to an extent never before seen. Escoffier divulged his secret to one colleague,

An artist’s rendering of the Savoy’s backof-house, 1911. From Stanley Jackson, The Savoy: Romance of a Great Hotel (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1964), inset.

explaining that his “success comes from the fact

4

that my best dishes were created for ladies.”4 While this suggestion, mentioned in all Escoffier’s biographies and memoirs, is usually inadequately justified with the explanation that women were

Eugène Herbodeau and Paul Thalamas, George Auguste Escoffier (London: Practical Press, 1955), 41.

not often welcome into dining rooms up until this

5

which Escoffier deployed behind the scenes to suc-

His lectures popularized the term “Industrial Revolution” and spread awareness of its impacts right around the time of the Savoy’s opening. See Alfred Toynbee, Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England (London: Rivington’s, 1884).

point in time, and that women have some innate sense of gustatory taste, it actually served as a diversion from the host of technological developments cessfully produce his meals. Aside from his culinary skills and prolific invention of popular recipes, Escoffier is most widely known as the creator of the brigade de cuisine. Now in standard use, the system established a clear hierarchy in the kitchen, as well as specialized duties for various staff members: the saucier in charge of making sauces, the pâtissier for pastries, and so on. Coincident with Arnold Toynbee’s popularization of the understanding of the Industrial Revolution,5 and with Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific

JONATHAN CRISMAN

JONATHAN CRISMAN

3

FIGURE 1

4


management, it was only natural for a modern

vagabonds chomping down in a public house, or,

chef to incorporate rational organizational logic,

perhaps worst of all, courtesans soliciting their

division of labor, and efficiency into the kitchen.

services over drink. The design of the Savoy’s din-

For Escoffier, however, the trick was not to produce

ing room was modified to appeal to society ladies:

an economic return but an experiential one: diners

dimmer electric lamps were installed, space was

were confounded at how the kitchen could produce

made for a string quartet, and the finishes were

such a steady stream of perfectly timed dishes with

updated. Around this time, Lady de Gray and her

every element at precisely the right temperature.

society friends held a banquet at the restaurant,

He utilized the Savoy’s architecture for his ends:

and word spread that public dining at the Savoy

room extended beyond its typical role as a barrier between food preparation and consumption. The wall and double swinging doors became a player JONATHAN CRISMAN

5

in the dining experience with dishes emerging

6

For more on this, see Kenneth James, Escoffier: The King of Chefs (London: Hambledon and London, 2002), 132–134.

was the fashion du jour. It was only behind the scenes that one could see through the smoke and mirrors: a discreet call to Earl de Gray, a friend of the hotel’s proprietor, individual screening of Lady de Gray’s friends, and a seating arrangement

sequentially à la russe, as was Escoffier’s prefer-

that allowed for the convenient overhearing of

ence, rather than in the conventional service à la

conversation.6 It was with hardly a second thought

française, with all dishes served at once. It was the

that society, charmed by Escoffier’s machina-

assembly line made perfect, from the immaterial

tions, accepted dining in public for the first time.

machinations of Escoffier’s mind, down the brigade of production, and out into the dining room to be placed in front of a titillated consumer. Though the production end, the back-of-house, was an exact science, it remained shrouded in magical aura for the diners on the other side of the kitchen wall. Escoffier expertly masked his sleight of hand, forgoing a dramatic presence to put in motion a transformation of the dining experience. Up until this point, dining was considered something to be properly enjoyed in private quarters—either for gentlemen in a club, or for families in a domestic setting. Public dining was associated with poverty,

JONATHAN CRISMAN

the spatial separation between kitchen and dining

6


management, it was only natural for a modern

vagabonds chomping down in a public house, or,

chef to incorporate rational organizational logic,

perhaps worst of all, courtesans soliciting their

division of labor, and efficiency into the kitchen.

services over drink. The design of the Savoy’s din-

For Escoffier, however, the trick was not to produce

ing room was modified to appeal to society ladies:

an economic return but an experiential one: diners

dimmer electric lamps were installed, space was

were confounded at how the kitchen could produce

made for a string quartet, and the finishes were

such a steady stream of perfectly timed dishes with

updated. Around this time, Lady de Gray and her

every element at precisely the right temperature.

society friends held a banquet at the restaurant,

He utilized the Savoy’s architecture for his ends:

and word spread that public dining at the Savoy

room extended beyond its typical role as a barrier between food preparation and consumption. The wall and double swinging doors became a player JONATHAN CRISMAN

5

in the dining experience with dishes emerging

6

For more on this, see Kenneth James, Escoffier: The King of Chefs (London: Hambledon and London, 2002), 132–134.

was the fashion du jour. It was only behind the scenes that one could see through the smoke and mirrors: a discreet call to Earl de Gray, a friend of the hotel’s proprietor, individual screening of Lady de Gray’s friends, and a seating arrangement

sequentially à la russe, as was Escoffier’s prefer-

that allowed for the convenient overhearing of

ence, rather than in the conventional service à la

conversation.6 It was with hardly a second thought

française, with all dishes served at once. It was the

that society, charmed by Escoffier’s machina-

assembly line made perfect, from the immaterial

tions, accepted dining in public for the first time.

machinations of Escoffier’s mind, down the brigade of production, and out into the dining room to be placed in front of a titillated consumer. Though the production end, the back-of-house, was an exact science, it remained shrouded in magical aura for the diners on the other side of the kitchen wall. Escoffier expertly masked his sleight of hand, forgoing a dramatic presence to put in motion a transformation of the dining experience. Up until this point, dining was considered something to be properly enjoyed in private quarters—either for gentlemen in a club, or for families in a domestic setting. Public dining was associated with poverty,

JONATHAN CRISMAN

the spatial separation between kitchen and dining

6


trend toward exposing a kitchen and cook staff to a This subtlety was precisely why Escoffier’s clients

restaurant’s diners is the architectural equivalent

were so awed: up to this point, they were accus-

of betraying the Magician’s Oath, an arrangement

tomed to the showy illusions of Marie-Antoine

which undermines the magical aura that was so

Carême, the celebrity chef that preceded Escoffier.

important to Escoffier. Typified by the “Chipotle 9

were visual spectacles mostly devoid of gustatory pleasure. He was famous for his pièces montées, opulent constructions of pastry and marzipan which resembled the architectural wonders which he studied during his brief tenure as a student of architecture. Escoffier, ever the modernist, shunned extravagant displays and the various JONATHAN CRISMAN

7

pedestals and columns upon which haute cuisine was typically served and championed, instead, Mallarmé’s supposed dictum: “food should look like food.” His truth to materials belied the sub7

tle magic his food performed in transforming culturally accepted norms. Escoffier played the part of magician in this process, distracting the front-of-house while he rationalized food production in the back-of-house, the first step toward today’s system of industrialized production.

7

Ritz, César Ritz, 113

8

In one passage, Escoffier goes so far as to suggest a reactionary lamenting of the very technological advancements that he developed: “I myself have often been forced to make profound changes in my restaurant service to meet the needs of the ultra rapid pace of modern life. . . . But the basics of cooking will remain the same as long as cooking exists.” See August Escoffier, Memories of My Life (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997), 119.

See “The Chipotle Experience,” Chipotle, accessed February 16, 2015, http://www. chipotle.com/ en-US/restaurants/ the_chipotle_ experience/ the_chipotle_ experience.aspx. See also Brad Tuttle, “Nothing to Hide: Why Restaurants Embrace the Open Kitchen,” Time, August 20, 2012. Accessed online, February 16, 2015, http://business.time. com/2012/08/20/ nothing-to-hidewhy-restaurantsembrace-the-openkitchen/. For a longer discussion on consuming “real” experiences, see Dean MacCannell, The Tourist (New York: Schocken Books, 1976).

Experience,” the open kitchen removes the boundaries between front-of-house and back-of-house, belying our expectation for food to be anything but ordinary and extending Taylor’s efficiency into the dining room. Couched in the neoliberal language of transparency, the open kitchen demonstrates both the expectation that the diner ought to participate in the experience of cooking, but also that consuming this experience is a “real” experience (despite Chipotle’s insistence that “this is where the magic happens”).9 Similarly, molecular gastronomy, the contemporary cooking style based on expert knowledge of the science that occurs while cooking, also reflects a larger cultural shift away from the magical and toward clearly communicated empirical accuracy. Coined in 1988 by scientists Nicholas Kurti and Hervé This, the trend likely reached its apotheosis with the 2011

Escoffier’s memoirs suggest that his intentions

publication of Nathan Myhrvold’s 2,438 page tome

were primarily to concoct a magical dining expe-

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.

rience rather than to participate in the modern-

The popular publication not only strips bare the

ization of food and dining. 8 He would likely be

structures supporting traditional cooking, but an-

horrified at the architectural conclusion of the

nihilates their authority by proposing more scien-

process which he catalyzed: the open kitchen. This

tifically nuanced alternatives. Myhrvold, a prodigy

.

JONATHAN CRISMAN

Carême catered to royalty, producing meals that

8


trend toward exposing a kitchen and cook staff to a This subtlety was precisely why Escoffier’s clients

restaurant’s diners is the architectural equivalent

were so awed: up to this point, they were accus-

of betraying the Magician’s Oath, an arrangement

tomed to the showy illusions of Marie-Antoine

which undermines the magical aura that was so

Carême, the celebrity chef that preceded Escoffier.

important to Escoffier. Typified by the “Chipotle 9

were visual spectacles mostly devoid of gustatory pleasure. He was famous for his pièces montées, opulent constructions of pastry and marzipan which resembled the architectural wonders which he studied during his brief tenure as a student of architecture. Escoffier, ever the modernist, shunned extravagant displays and the various JONATHAN CRISMAN

7

pedestals and columns upon which haute cuisine was typically served and championed, instead, Mallarmé’s supposed dictum: “food should look like food.” His truth to materials belied the sub7

tle magic his food performed in transforming culturally accepted norms. Escoffier played the part of magician in this process, distracting the front-of-house while he rationalized food production in the back-of-house, the first step toward today’s system of industrialized production.

7

Ritz, César Ritz, 113

8

In one passage, Escoffier goes so far as to suggest a reactionary lamenting of the very technological advancements that he developed: “I myself have often been forced to make profound changes in my restaurant service to meet the needs of the ultra rapid pace of modern life. . . . But the basics of cooking will remain the same as long as cooking exists.” See August Escoffier, Memories of My Life (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997), 119.

See “The Chipotle Experience,” Chipotle, accessed February 16, 2015, http://www. chipotle.com/ en-US/restaurants/ the_chipotle_ experience/ the_chipotle_ experience.aspx. See also Brad Tuttle, “Nothing to Hide: Why Restaurants Embrace the Open Kitchen,” Time, August 20, 2012. Accessed online, February 16, 2015, http://business.time. com/2012/08/20/ nothing-to-hidewhy-restaurantsembrace-the-openkitchen/. For a longer discussion on consuming “real” experiences, see Dean MacCannell, The Tourist (New York: Schocken Books, 1976).

Experience,” the open kitchen removes the boundaries between front-of-house and back-of-house, belying our expectation for food to be anything but ordinary and extending Taylor’s efficiency into the dining room. Couched in the neoliberal language of transparency, the open kitchen demonstrates both the expectation that the diner ought to participate in the experience of cooking, but also that consuming this experience is a “real” experience (despite Chipotle’s insistence that “this is where the magic happens”).9 Similarly, molecular gastronomy, the contemporary cooking style based on expert knowledge of the science that occurs while cooking, also reflects a larger cultural shift away from the magical and toward clearly communicated empirical accuracy. Coined in 1988 by scientists Nicholas Kurti and Hervé This, the trend likely reached its apotheosis with the 2011

Escoffier’s memoirs suggest that his intentions

publication of Nathan Myhrvold’s 2,438 page tome

were primarily to concoct a magical dining expe-

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.

rience rather than to participate in the modern-

The popular publication not only strips bare the

ization of food and dining. 8 He would likely be

structures supporting traditional cooking, but an-

horrified at the architectural conclusion of the

nihilates their authority by proposing more scien-

process which he catalyzed: the open kitchen. This

tifically nuanced alternatives. Myhrvold, a prodigy

.

JONATHAN CRISMAN

Carême catered to royalty, producing meals that

8


who finished his PhD in physics at Princeton by the time he turned 23 and went on to found Microsoft Research, Intellectual Ventures, and TerraPower, This quote is a paraphrase of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” See Arthur C. Clarke, “Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination,” in Profiles of the Future (London: Pan Books, 1973), 30–39.

uses text and sectional representations to show precisely how cooking processes unfold. These architectural images, however, provide a visual sense of wonder much in the same way that Escoffier’s diners experienced a gustatory awe. In the end, it is always the most modern of cooks, from Escoffier to Myhrvold, who remind us of the magic possible with a sufficiently advanced technology10 and that through the pathways of the sensorium—from the color of a radish, or the smell of rosewater—we can again make eating magical.

9

TOP LEFT: FIGURE 3 “Hidden Garden.” Sectional photo showing a pot roast from Nathan Myrhvold’s Modernist Cuisine. Photo credit: Ryan Matthew Smith / Modernist Cuisine, LLC. TOP RIGHT: FIGURE 4 Another sectional food drawing: Ron Herron’s Walking City as a honey-baked ham. Drawing by LA—BOR (Jonathan Crisman and Jia Gu), 2014.

JONATHAN CRISMAN

10

10


who finished his PhD in physics at Princeton by the time he turned 23 and went on to found Microsoft Research, Intellectual Ventures, and TerraPower, This quote is a paraphrase of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” See Arthur C. Clarke, “Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination,” in Profiles of the Future (London: Pan Books, 1973), 30–39.

uses text and sectional representations to show precisely how cooking processes unfold. These architectural images, however, provide a visual sense of wonder much in the same way that Escoffier’s diners experienced a gustatory awe. In the end, it is always the most modern of cooks, from Escoffier to Myhrvold, who remind us of the magic possible with a sufficiently advanced technology10 and that through the pathways of the sensorium—from the color of a radish, or the smell of rosewater—we can again make eating magical.

9

TOP LEFT: FIGURE 3 “Hidden Garden.” Sectional photo showing a pot roast from Nathan Myrhvold’s Modernist Cuisine. Photo credit: Ryan Matthew Smith / Modernist Cuisine, LLC. TOP RIGHT: FIGURE 4 Another sectional food drawing: Ron Herron’s Walking City as a honey-baked ham. Drawing by LA—BOR (Jonathan Crisman and Jia Gu), 2014.

JONATHAN CRISMAN

10

10

Profile for Jonathan Jae-an Crisman

Magical Dining, Modern Cuisine  

Magical Dining, Modern Cuisine  

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