This is a fictionalized story of the life of Auguste Escoffier, a renowned French chef who was truly great. Everyone loved his modernized ideas that he used to create French food; ideas that were handed down from generation to generation, a delicious dining experience. In other words, the food made sense. Being an American meat and potatoes cook, I really don't know why I wanted to review this book. But, I'm so happy that I did. It brought French food home to the modern diners and helped to simplify French cooking, which was always way out of my league.
The author writes this story for all the cooks and romantics in the world who love a good story about the famous and infamous. It's a book about love, war, and food. The novel starts when Escoffier is writing his memoirs toward the end of his life. He is reminded of his history as a cook in the Franco-Prussian War and then on to the Savoy in London where he was a close and trusted friend to royalty and world leaders. Escoffier was in love with two women, who were very different in personality: Sarah Bernhardt, a beautiful actress, and his wife, Delphine Daffis, a poet whom Escoffier married but was separated from for much of his cooking career in his famous restaurants. One of which was the Ritz Hotel Restaurant in London followed by the Carlton, where he worked to organize industrial kitchens and to invent the station system used in restaurants of today.
At his retirement, he returned to Delphine and she asked just one thing of him. Would he please create a dish in her name as he had for many others including Sarah Bernhardt and Queen Victoria. So, he has a problem. How does he create a dish showing love in a single recipe? The great chef is stumped!! So, helped by a young cook that looks a bit like Bernhardt, he works to make a dish with the ability to be emotional, and to satisfy all passion and forgiveness. Their love affair is a work of fiction but the author did get the history perfectly. Escoffier did win the hand of his wife in marriage by gambling and they were happy but, Delphine chose to remain with her family in Monte Carlo while Escoffier went off to work at the Ritz in London. After retirement the couple lived out their lives in Monte Carlo.
This is a beautifully written book and I have to say I was drawn to this novel. Reading about the luscious foods and the great hotels of the past was an adventure.
A breathtaking novel, rare and moving, about the world's greatest chef and his unruly heart.White Truffles in Winter imagines the world of the remarkable French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who changed how we eat through his legendary restaurants at the Savoy and the Ritz. A man of contradictions-kind yet imperious, food-obsessed yet rarely hungry-Escoffier was also torn between two women: the famous, beautiful, and reckless actress Sarah Bernhardt and his wife, the independent and sublime poet Delphine Daffis, who refused ever to leave Monte Carlo. In the last year of Escoffier's life, in the middle of writing his memoirs, he has returned to Delphine, who requests a dish in her name as he has honored Bernhardt, Queen Victoria, and many others. How does one define the complexity of love on a single plate? N. M. Kelby brings us the sensuality of food and love amid a world on the verge of war in this work that shimmers with beauty and longing.