“Haute Cuisine: How the French Invented the Culinary Profession”


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Amy B. Trubek
224 pages,13 b/w illustrations, $24.95 cloth

Paris is the culinary center of the world. All the great missionaries of good cookery have gone forth from it, and its cuisine was, is, and ever will be the supreme expression of one of the greatest arts of the world, observed the English author of The Gourmet Guide to Europe in 1903. Even today, a sophisticated meal, expertly prepared and elegantly served, must almost by definition be French. In Haute Cuisine, Amy Trubek (Gr95), trained as a professional chef at the Cordon Bleu, explores the fascinating story of how the traditions of France came to dominate the culinary world.

The book has received considerable attention since it was published this past June. Adam Gopnik wrote in The New Yorker that Trubek sees the world the way cooks do, while both Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association praised Trubeks impeccable research.

Trubek begins her history of French cooking with a reference work for chefs published in 1604. With this early guide and the cookbooks that followed, French chefs of the 17th and 18th centuries codified the cuisine of the French aristocracy. After the French Revolution, the chefs of France found it necessary to move to the public sphere, where they transformed themselves from household servants to masters of the art of fine dining, making the cuisine of the French aristocracy the international haute cuisine.

Haute Cuisine profiles the great chefs of the 19th century, including Antonin Careme and Auguste Escoffier, as well as their contemporary heirs, notably Pierre Franey and Julia Child.

The French influence on the world of cuisine and culture is a story of food as status symbol. Tell me what you eat, the great gastronome Brillat-Savarin wrote, and I will tell you who you are. Haute Cuisine shows us how our tastes, desires, and history come together at a common table of appreciation for the French empire of food. Bon appétit!

University of Pennsylvania Press

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Originally published on September 28, 2000