Franey grew up in northern Burgundy, France. As a young man, he was in the United States at the outbreak of World War II, cooking in the French Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair, and remained in New York rather than returning to Occupied France. He reportedly turned down an offer to become the cook for Douglas MacArthur. Franey served as a machine gunner in the U.S. Army.
After the war, Henri Soulé, who ran the French Pavilion's kitchen, opened a restaurant in New York, and hired Franey as head chef. The restaurant, Le Pavillon, was successful, and there Franey met Times food editor Craig Claiborne. The two struck up a lasting friendship and collaboration.
In 1961, Howard Johnson, a regular Le Pavillon customer, hired Franey to develop food lines for his chain of Howard Johnson's restaurants. He worked alongside Jacques Pepin, another Pavillon cook who would later become famous for his books and TV shows.
In 1976, he and Claiborne gained national attention for an extravagant dinner in Paris. At a fund-raising auction, Claiborne had won a dinner for two, with no price limit, donated by American Express. He and Franey went to the Paris restaurant Chez Denis, and ordered a 31-course dinner with multiple wines. The bill was about $4,000; Claiborne's subsequent story about the meal, on page one of The New York Times, intrigued many readers and offended many others.
Franey died in 1996 shortly after giving a shipboard cooking demonstration aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. He is buried in Green River Cemetery in Springs, New York in East Hampton, New York on Long Island.
- Goodbye mag profile
- New York Times obituary
- New York Times story about Paris dinner
- Franey article appearing in the 23-JUL-1981 Gainesville Sun, via the NYT News Service, giving insight to Franey's writing style and sharing his insight on an important Chef's tool that's little known outside of professional kitchens
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