Ruth Cowen - Relish - Orion Publishing Group

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    • ISBN:9780297865575
    • Publication date:16 Dec 2010

Relish

The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef

By Ruth Cowen

  • Paperback
  • £10.99

The definitive biography of Alexis Soyer: celebrity chef, entrepreneur, inventor and war hero

Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) was a working-class Frenchman from an unremarkable town north-west of Paris, but his exceptional cooking skills and ebullient personality turned him into Britain's first true celebrity chef. He was the first to publish a succession of best-selling cookbooks - one selling more than a quarter of a million copies, an extraordinary figure for the mid-nineteenth century. He was also the first to produce branded merchandise, including a remarkably ingenious stove that fitted in the pocket and bottled sauces decorated with his recognisable portrait. Ahead of his time, he nurtured a flamboyant public profile through a combination of brilliant self-publicity and shameless press manipulation.

But his life's purpose both came into focus and found its dramatic climax when he renounced his sybaritic lifestyle and elected to travel, for no pay and in the face of real danger, across Europe first to Scutari and later to Balaclava, where thousands of British troops had died of disease and malnutrition during the first long, bitter winter of the Crimean war. One of the first to understand fully the rudiments of good nutrition and mass catering, Soyer had already introduced new principles of large-scale cookery to Ireland during the potato famine of 1847, and he extend his expertise to the British army with spectacular results. Long overlooked by historians, Ruth Cowen vividly recounts the life of a unique personality with a scholarly slice of Victorian history.

Biographical Notes

Ruth Cowen is a journalist, author, editor and researcher. She has written for all the major newspapers including the DAILY TELEGRAPH, DAILY MAIL, FINANCIAL TIMES, INDEPENDENT, GUARDIAN, DAILY EXPRESS, SUNDAY EXPRESS and EVENING STANDARD. She has also written a number of award-winning documentaries for BBC Radio 4.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781474609425
  • Publication date: 17 May 2018
  • Page count: 352
  • Imprint: W&N
Ruth Cowen's biography puts Alexis Soyer, the Victorian celebrity chef and inveterate egotist, where he should be - leagues ahead of Escoffier: great cook, prolific inventor (gas barbecue, air-driven spit, field stove, flame lamp), travelling philanthropist (soup kitchens in Ireland, two years fixing the field hospital in the Crimea) and more — Prue Leith, THE WEEK
A masterly account not only of a Victorian chef but of a Victorian era
The most admirable and attractive of all chefs has been given an equally admirable and attractive biography
Excellent, entertaining and vivid ... colourful, compassionate, generous, inventive, indefatigable. Now at last [Soyer] has the biography he deserves
Ruth Cowen has brought Alexis Soyer back to life with the kind of flourish he would have appreciated
Ruth Cowen's biography puts Alexis Soyer, the Victorian celebrity chef and inveterate egotist, where he should be - leagues ahead of Escoffier: great cook, prolific inventor (gas barbecue, air-driven spit, field stove, flame lamp), travelling philanthropist (soup kitchens in Ireland, two years fixing the field hospital in the Crimea) and more
I was riveted from start to finish. What a fascinating, endearing, complex, contradictory man Soyer was, and what a life!
A riveting book with all the elements of a Hollywood Oscar winner
Engrossing ... A sybarite and dandy with a social conscience and hustling entrepreneurial streak, Soyer was an intriguing, contradictory figure
[Cowen] has crafted a filling dish ... Cowen captures the curious combination of his astute commercial skills ... and his selfless philanthropy
The story of [Soyer's] vigorous life is a potent one, and Cowen's comprehensive, sensitive recording of it is long overdue
Ruth Cowen's lively new biography... is a highly readable account of an important life
Excellent ... a riveting story ... it's also a marvellous portrait of the early Victorian age
Sparkling ... If only all history were written like this
Chef Alexis Soyer was as famous as Dickens in his day ... Cowen explores his amazing life and the reasons behind his obscurity
This very well-written and researched book ... will serve for some time as the best record that we have on this great chef
[Soyer's] colourful life story - he was a bigamist, bankrupt and alcoholic - is told brilliantly by Ruth Cowen
Alexis Soyer deserves a biography of flair, passion and frivolity. Ruth Cowen has delivered just such a book
Ruth Cowen guides us elegantly through the turbulent, intoxicating life of this brilliant but flawed man

Alex Danchev

John Keegan in his review of ALCHEMIST OF WAR in The Spectator described Danchev as "one of the two most brilliant people [he] taught at Sandhurst". He is currently Professor of Politics at the University of Nottingham. In addition to editing the Alanbrooke WAR DIARIES he is the author of an acclaimed life of Basil Liddell hart, ALCHEMIST OF WAR.

Barbara Leaming

Barbara Leaming is one of America's premier biographers. With the help of Orson Welles she was the first to write a serious biography of this noted director and actor. Her other subjects include Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. She is married and lives in Connecticut.

Brian Holden Reid

Brian Holden Reid is Professor of American History and Military Institutions and Head of the Department of War Studies at King's College, London. Since 1993 he has been a member of the Council of the Society for Army Historical Research and from 1998-2004 served as Chairman. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Royal Geographical Society and the Royal United Services Institute. His books include J. F. C. Fuller: Military Thinker (1987; 1990), The Origins of the American Civil War (1996), and Studies in British Military Thought (1998), and The Civil War and the Wars of the Nineteenth Century (1999; 2002)

Bryan Perrett

Bryan Perrett left the army as a successful career officer to take up the pen as a full-time writer. Able to write to any brief (he was captioning picture-strips for schoolgirl comics at one point), he found his metier as a military historian and writer of good, fast, episodic, narrative popular histories. His many books, all founded on meticulous research from primary sources, find a wide popular readership. He is the bestselling author in the bestselling Cassell Military Classics series.

Charles Messenger

Charles Messenger was a Regular officer in the Royal Tank Regiment. He then left the army to take up a career as a military historian and defence analyst. His second career has proved hugely successful, and he has published a large number of books, mainly concentrating on the two World Wars.

Charles Williams

Charles Williams, Lord Williams of Elvel, former industrialist and banker and now a Labour peer, was appointed to a life peerage in 1985. He served on the Opposition front bench from 1986 onwards and was elected Opposition Deputy Leader in 1989. He is one of Britain's most distinguished biographers.

Christopher Meyer

Christopher Meyer served as Ambassador to the United Kingdom to the United States from 1997 until 2003. He was a vital link in the important relationship between America and Britain, one of the closest periods since the Second World War. He had previously been British Ambassador to Germany and chief spokesman and press secretary for former Prime Minister John Major, and for Geoffrey Howe when he was Foreign Secretary. In 2003 Meyer was appointed Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, a position he held until April 2009. He was knighted in 2001.

David Miller

David Miller served in the British Army from 1956 to 1991 but took early retirement to become a journalist and to write books. He has had over 40 books published on subjects ranging from the Samurai through the Battle of Waterloo to the Cold War, and from a shipwreck in the Falkland Islands to the Crusades. Working on the latter book revived his interest in Richard the Lionheart, one of the greatest warrior-kings England has ever known.

Frank Pope

Frank Pope is the Ocean Correspondent of The Times and presenter for the BBC. Previously he worked on underwater expeditions all over the world under the auspices of Oxford MARE (Maritime Archaeological Research and Excavation Unit), including the excavation of Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Agamemnon. He divides his time between London and Nairobi.Visit Frank Pope's website http://frankpope.co.uk and follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/papafranco.

Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield is Professor of Modern History at King's College London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and author of Forgotten Victory: The First World War - Myths and Realities and The Somme. He broadcasts regularly on television and radio, and writes for the national press. He lives in Oxfordshire. Dr John Bourne is Director of the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Vice-President of the Western Front Association. He has written widely on the First World War, including Britain and the Great War 1914-1918 and Who's Who in the First World War. He lives in Birmingham.

Gordon Corrigan

The author was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1962 and retired from the Brigade of Gurkhas in 1998. A member of the British Commission for Military History and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, he speaks fluent Nepali and is a keen horseman.

Gunther E Rothenberg

Gunther Rothenberg was the world's leading authority on the Napoleonic Wars. He served with the British, Israeli and US Military and was Professor of History at Purdue University in the USA. He was the leading English-speaking historian of warfare in the German-speaking lands. His many distinguished works include The Army of Francis Joseph and The Hapsburg Military Frontier.

H.F.M. Prescott

H F M Prescott was born in Cheshire. Hilda Prescott read Modern History at Oxford and later received MA degrees there and at Manchester, as well as an honorary doctorate at Durham. She is best known for her historical novel THE MAN ON A DONKEY and her biography of Mary Tudor which won the James Tait Black Prize in 1941. The daughter of a clergyman, she was a committed member of the church of England, and her wide-ranging interests included travel and a deep love of the English countryside that lasted all her life. She died in 1972.

Halil Inalcik

Halil Inalcik is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago. Born in Istanbul, he was a Professor of Ottoman History at the University of Ankara from 1952 until 1972. He then joined the University of Chicago where he taught until his retirement in 1986. He is currently Professor of Ottoman History at Bilknet University in Ankara.

Heinz Magenheimer

Heinz Magenheimer is one of Austria's most respected historians and commentators. Since 1972 he has been a member of the Academy of National Defence, Vienna, and since 1993 a permanent member of the editorial staff of the Austrian military periodical OMZ. In addition to five books, he has written more than a hundred articles in periodical and compendia on the subjects of military strategy, security politics and the history of warfare.

Jane Wellesley

Jane Wellesley spent four years in the art world before starting her career in TV in 1975. She worked for the BBC and Granada before becoming an independent producer. This is her first book. She lives in London.

John Hughes-Wilson

John Hughes-Wilson (author of Military Intelligence Blunders) and Cathryn Corns lead 'Shot at Dawn' battlefield tours through France and Flanders.

John Hussey

John Hussey was born in 1933, and was awarded an OBE in 1971 for his services to British interests abroad. He has written for more than a dozen military journals, and has appeared in BBC documentaries as a consultant on the First World War. He is currently the British representative on the historical committee advising the Belgian authorities on their project to restore the battlefield of Waterloo. This is his first full-length book.

John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is the author of numerous anthologies and books on military history. He lives on a farm in Herefordshire with his wife and two children.Join John Lewis-Stempel on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/John-Lewis-Stempel and follow him on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/JLewisStempel.

Kumiko Kakehashi

Kumiko Kakehashi was born in 1961. After graduating from Hokkaido University, she worked as a freelance writer and editor. She is a regular contributor to AERA magazine. This is her first book.