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Monday, March 20, 2023

Somm-o-logue – Careme let’s them eat cake


Marie Antoine Careme greatly influenced the Grand Cuisine. He is one of the most important French chefs and lived 1784 – 1833.

Wikimedia Commons Photo
Marie Antoine Careme
Wikimedia Commons Photo

Careme is named for Marie Antoinette and was orphaned during the French Revolution. As the legend goes, he was rescued by a pastry chef at ten in the revolutionary torn streets of Paris.

He was considered arrogant by many of his contemporaries, but cooked for the nobles and aristocracy in Europe. Some included Duc de Talleyrand, Napoleon, Czar Nicholas the II in St. Petersburg, and the Prince Regent in England.

His kitchen at the Brighton House in London was state-of-the-art for the time and included some of first steam tables and sophisticated pipe-systems (plumbing) to run water. Accounts of his resources in St. Petersburg included football-field size green-houses that could grow strawberries in the harsh Russian winters.

He documented much of his life’s work publishing nearly thirty cookbooks. He studied Palladian architecture and took drafting lessons to draw and document a lot of his elaborate culinary displays, pastries and cakes.

The irony of an orphaned boy cooking for the aristocracy really “let them eat cake.” This phrase is often credited to Marie Antoinette, but was actually written Rousseau in his Confessions.

Almost everyone today benefits from Careme’s kitchen innovations. Many credit him for pioneering such techniques as the piping bag, spinning sugar, and meringue preparations. He developed the mother sauces, introduced the chef’s hat, and brought Russian service to France and England – ultimately becoming the preferred service style of most American restaurants today.

Timothy Penick
Timothy Penickhttp://www.sommologue.blogspot.com
Timothy Penick is a classically trained sommelier and writes about food,drink and wine from Naperville, Ill.