Antoine Beauvilliers

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Engraving from the title page of L'art du Cuisinier, Paris 1814

Antoine B. Beauvilliers (1754 – 31 January 1817) was a pioneering restaurateur who opened the first prominent grand restaurant in Paris and was the author of L'Art du Cuisinier.[1] Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin considers him the most important of the early restaurateurs, as "he was the first to have an elegant dining room, handsome well-trained waiters, a fine cellar and a superior kitchen."[2]

Of humble parentage, Beauvilliers worked his way up from kitchen boy to become the chef of the Count of Provence, the future King Louis XVIII. Beauvilliers opened a restaurant called the Taverne Anglaise under in the Palais Royale, Paris, in 1786.[3] The restaurant was intended for a wealthy and aristocratic clientele; it had tables made of mahogany, crystal chandeliers, and tablecloths of fine linen, an extensive wine cellar, and elegantly-dressed waiters.[4] Dishes on the restaurant menu included partridge with cabbage, veal chops grilled in buttered paper, and duck with turnips.[5] The restaurant Beauvilliers became a rendez-vous of conservative political factions, in which Beauvilliers was implicated; in 1795 he was forced to close his establishment and to live away from the trade that was his life. When he reopened as the Grande Taverne de Londres, at 26 rue de Richelieu, tastes had changed and he met with less success. The restaurant closed in 1825.[5]

In this period of eclipse he wrote L'art du Cuisinier which was published by Pilet in two octavo volumes with a great number of illustrative engravings in 1814. It became a classic of French gastronomic literature. A second edition, with a supplement, appeared in 1821. An English translation, The Art of French Cookery, was published in London by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, 1824.

Beauvilliers is described as a "portly figure, his triple chin, his broad, joyous face, and the light that sparkles in his large grey eye."[6] He dressed fashionably and carried a sword.[5] His success was enhanced by his ability to "cater to and flatter rich patrons", attending to them personally and helping them with items on the menu; he had a prodigious memory and could recall a patron he had not seen in 20 years.[5]

Beauvilliers is buried in the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rebecca L. Spang (2001). The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674006850. 
  2. ^ Amy B. Trubek (2000). Haute Cuisine: How the French Invented the Culinary Profession. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 39–40. ISBN 9780812217766. 
  3. ^ Fierro, Alfred, Histoire et Dictionnaire de Paris (1996), Robert Lafont (ISBN 2-221-07862-4). Different historians give different dates for the opening of this restaurant; either 1782 (René Héron de Villefosse, Histoire de Paris (1959)), or 1783 (Dictionnaire Historique de Paris (2013) )
  4. ^ Fierro, Alfred, Histoire et Dictionnaire de Paris, p. 1137
  5. ^ a b c d James Salter (2010). Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days. Random House. pp. 70–71. 
  6. ^ Thomas Campbell (editor) (1847). New Monthly Magazine, Volume 80. E. W. Allen. p. 57. 

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