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Chefs in 1967


 

Chefs in 1967

 
This page makes full use Raymond Oliver's output on chefs written in 1967.  An extract takes up much of the page.   The French at Table, Wine and Food Society/Michael Joseph 1967

This page supports other pages on this website.  

When using internal and as with external links, the return arrow takes you back to where you were, of course.  Email queries on the topic have resulted in this addition.  

 

         The kitchen brigade is here.  More detail here.   

         Brigade family tree here  

      The development of professional cookery here

     "Mise en place" is here

      Unsocial hours here.  

      Escoffier* couldn't figure out how to do sums here

      The path to the top here and here

      The author's life and picture here

      John Fuller here  here

       * Escoffier was not on the scene in 1967 but was still influential.  Life here.


One aim of using 1967 material, as with the 1984 page, is to assess progress and look to the future.  That could involve you and me both - in the future.

 







 

The extract is from Chapter 5 - In the KitchenThe picture is from page 199.  The convention in this website of quotations being shown in brown text continues.  The same applies to dividing long paragraphs for ease of reading.  Dots .... = text not included.  Footnotes in the text are in this colour text to click. The return is via the back-arrow. 

Read and enjoy the extract without sidetracking to footnotes.  Perhaps read the notes which interest you when you have finished.  

As with all such quotations on this website, text can be taken out easily by the reader to use at will.   Don't forget to quote the author and the sources - the original and where it is now.  
           

Chefs

The layman may confuse the chef with the cook, but in fact a professor is not necessarily a great scholar 1 here and an orchestra conductor may be an indifferent instrumentalist.

A chef de cuisine can without harm be both a good cook and a good organizer. The cook, because for so many years considered a servant, has chosen the name of chef, a generic term. One is a chef as soon as one has ceased to be an apprentice. There is a sort of amiable mockery in the relations between cooks and their subordinates, especially the apprentices, and it is common to hear a qualified cook address an apprentice as 'mon chef'.

Among cooks, the title is respected. In the most professional quarters, a chef is not judged by the height of his bonnet but by his real qualities, for which he is known. As a career, however short, it has its official requirements; it is necessary to show to whom one was apprenticed, the quality of the establishments in which one has worked and the length of stay in each.  …
 
After all, the cook, however, good or bad, is an artist whose single vocation is to make others' lives happier. He works only for the pleasure of his fellows, twice a day, for ever. His works are among the most uncertain, his techniques among the most flexible. He must constantly adapt himself, modify, interpret and in turn create ….  
 
194 - page 195 not used
 
The cook has to be self-taught, sometimes by choice but more often through necessity. Few cooks can go to evening classes since they have to work when others have stopped.

Since intelligence has nothing to do with knowledge and even less with culture, the proportion of intelligent cooks is the same as that of intelligent doctors or lawyers. For them no problem exists, or rather, it is solved for them by a series of formulae applicable to all circumstances.  But cooks have to decide whether or not to cross the pons asinorum  2 here . Those who do will become chefs, the others will remain artisans; both equally necessary.

There would be much wider scope for cooks if general culture were of a higher level and more easily attained; a limitation which restricts the possibilities open to him.  ….
 
196 - page 197 not used
 
…….. Technique comes first. Among many techniques some, such as hollandaise, béarnaise, soufflé potatoes, sauce nantua, bases such as consommé, jelly, curry, coq-au-vin, etc. are almost elementary. The result depends largely on the quality of the ingredients available, but it is only too easy to ruin a cooked dish. All these primary preparations must be carried out by a sort of reflex action which must be effortless.

Then, and this is his ambition, he may tackle the difficult work; the delicate cooking, vegetables or fragile mushrooms, fish to be cooked for only a very short time, which allows him no possibility of salvaging the dish if he makes a mistake. If he takes to this kind of work, and it appeals to him, he must then make up his mind whether to be a cook or a chef.

To be a cook may well mean to run a restaurant for there are few chefs who find this sort of administration interesting. The two require different viewpoints. It would be interesting to establish how many cooks in the UK run restaurants.

A chef reaches high rank slowly by climbing the ladder and meriting each rise. The gifted cook and, of course, there is nothing to prevent the chef from being one too, often prefers to set up in business for himself. He is rightly self-confident and has often taken this decision in his days as an apprentice. I do not think it is the best solution for a talented practitioner, but no one ever stopped a man from nourishing the illusion that working for 'himself means freedom'. …
 
The chef has been through the mill.  He has been an apprentice, then a commis de cuisine, ... . As a cook, he would have been premier commis, chef de partie, chef saucier, second and finally gros bonnet (big bonnet, the accepted name of a chef de cuisine) 3 here. Real kitchen brigades are now few and far between but there still are some. In Paris, one of the largest is at the Plaza Athénée with forty cooks. In Tokyo at the Tokyo Kaikan there are several hundred white bonnets for several thousand daily customers.
 
198
 
 The average French brigade consists of six to eight members. A chef, a second (generally a saucier) [cooks the main course meats but not  grills which are done by the the grillardin], a rôtisseur [roast-cook who does the other-than-the-saucier main course meats ], gardemanger [larder-chef], and one or several assistants ranging from apprentice to kitchen boy.

Here is approximately the ideal brigade: a chef; a second; a saucier; an entremettier; a grillardin; a rôtisseur; a poissonnier [fish-cook]; a communard and a pátissier
[pastry-chef].

Each of these cooks has one or several commis [assistants]. During the first year apprentices are responsible for basic preparations, and from the second year are allocated to a different section each month.

How is the work split up?

To the layman, only two titles may seem intriguing - the entremettier and the communard; the others' names convey their specialities.

The communard cooks for the staff. Clearly, in an establishment with a large
 
 
199
 
 
brigade, there are a lot of employees. As soon as there are more than fifty to be fed twice a day, it is worth while for everyone to have a specialist on the job. This is not an easy task and it is often entrusted to an older cook who has some authority over the rest of the staff.

The entremettier is in charge of the vegetables. There was a time when this section also included a chief soup-maker [le potager] . In general, it is this section that has the largest number of commis. The work is very important and there is a great deal of it, for the entremettier is responsible not only for the eggs, souffles (salt or sweet) and pancakes (also salt or sweet), but all the vegetables except fried potatoes which are looked after by the grillardin, who seldom has a commis, but is usually given an apprentice.

The reasons for this exception are obvious to a professional, since the grillardin has almost no mise en place. Indeed, he only has to see to the potatoes: soufflé, straw, waffled, Pont Neuf [double-size chips], or chips according to the day's menu. Thanks to machines, peeling and cutting are now very simple and the actual cooking greatly facilitated by thermostatically controlled electric friers.

I must elaborate on the mise en place. Every morning the menu is posted up. If it is a fixed menu or one for a banquet, the number of guests will be known and will show each cook what he has to do for the day.

When it is a la carte, the mise en place will differ greatly and include a large number of preparations which at the right moment have to be used for the dish ordered. Certain sauces automatically constitute part of a classical mise en place: mornay, hollandaise, béarnaise, veal extract, maître d'hotel butter, lemon juice, watercress, and so on. There are many more complicated preparations but I will not weary you with too much detail.

When the chef is running a very big brigade he allocates the tasks when he puts up his menu. Banquets are shown in a given colour, as are sittings. Blue can be used to indicate lunches and red for dinners, etc., and there must be the strictest adherence to the timetable.

Such a chef must be able accurately to gauge the possibilities of his workers in relation to the equipment at their disposal. A rush for a given stove, grill or pot must not be allowed to occur as it retards productivity. …..
 
200 - pages 201 – 203 not used
 
….
 
To govern has always meant to foresee, in cookery as in politics. The chef de cuisine is an important man in his profession. He must be fully trained in technique and practice from the start, and he must be capable of doing the work in any of his sections before he can organize others to run them under him. He must know his equipment and use it properly. Moreover, because he must always be in the van of progress, he must keep abreast of every new development, and at the same time, gauge the value of expensive new tools which must not only pay for themselves but also show good returns.
 
204
 
Some people are surprised at the high position of a chef in a big establishment. They should realize that the interests he controls are of the same kind as those of an engineer in any branch of industry. The least one can do is to place on an equal footing two executives of equal worth. The chef is at a disadvantage because of staggered working hours, holidays which do not coincide with those of anybody else, the disruption of family life, and needs different from those of other people. In addition, he has constantly to remember the perishable nature of his wares and take into account wastage or losses (not necessarily due to pilfering). ….

An international chef de cuisine will, between now and the twenty-first century, have to speak three languages, know all about freezing techniques, A.F.D. [Accelerated Freeze Drying here] and electronics; all this in addition to the professional knowledge of the trade required of his predecessors.

The first chefs who had some notion of costings were born with this century. Even a cook as remarkable as Escoffier here was quite incapable of tackling figures; administrative work was not his strong point. Liberal taxation and ludicrously low wages allowed certain establishments to muddle along and just get by, but a lot of water has flowed under the bridges since those early days.

The chefs of tomorrow will have to be taught by very different methods but luckily, intelligence has always come to the rescue of technical problems. …. I have complete faith in the genius of the French and the cooks of the whole world.
 
205

Notes

1

Written in 1967.  Raymond Oliver was musing in the abstract and had no specific field of study in mind.  There were no professors committed to matters culinary, gastronomic or 'hospitalic' then.  You can find one* here and two UK profs under the Tourism and Hospitality heading here] .  More here.  John Fuller was not a Professor of Gastronomy but wrote plenty of related interest.    

* In the USA, the term Professor" can mean the same as it can in France - teacher.   

 
2

Latin: bridge of asses, referring originally to the fifth proposition of the first book of Euclid, which was considered difficult for students to learn source  

3
 

Junior chefs as well as food writers might refer to the head chef as gros-bonnet.  One interpretation is  "big-shot" here -    

or grand fromage here

  

The term 'gros-bonnet' relates to 'toque'.  The toque is a chef's hat that dates back to the 16th century when hats were common in many trades. here    It does not, however, relate to what the girl is wearing.

"Of course, the matter of kitchen headgear immediatedly brings to mind the outlandish tower of cloth that is the true chef's hat, or toque (French for a soft, brimless, usually small hat). Could it be that this evidence had evolved or been invented for venerable chefs with career-weakened eyes?...The origin of the chef's toque are somewhat obscure. The distingushed gastronomical authority Andre Simon said that it is a copy of the hat worn by Greek Orthodox priests and dates from a time of upheaval (some say the sixth century A.D.) when "many famous cooks to escape persecution sought refuge in monasteries." Other investigations into the subject, however, make it clear that regardless of what may have happened in early Greece, monasteries, today's toque was reinvented around 1900.

In both France and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, those cooks who bothered with headgear at all wore a soft cotton hat, or bonnet, that looked very much like a nightcap. The great transition from shapeless to shaped can be attributed with some certainty to Marie-Antoine Careme, the renowned chef of the early nineteenth century, who at the time was in the service of the English ambassador to Vienna, Lord Stewart. As Careme wrote in his Maitre d'Hotel francais (1822), 'Meditating ceaselessly on the elegance of our work, I had dreamed for a long time of ways to change the manner in which we wear our cotton cap; for it appeared to me absolutely necessary not to change the cap itself, whose whiteness allies it so well to the rest of our uniform, and whose extreme cleanliness is the handsomest endowment of the cook. Professionals distinguish themselves by it, and by the order that they bring to their work...At the time that I had the idea of wearing my cap thus trimmed with a circle of cardboard (one could make it an octagon), which lends it more grace, I found myself in Vienna during my last stay in 1821. Every day around eleven in the morning, I repesented the dinner menu to his Excellency Lord S--------. The Ambassador looked at me, smiled, and said: 'This new style better suits the cook.' I pointed out to his Excellency that a cook should be the image of good health, while our ordinary cap is more reminiscent of the state of convalescence. My Lord agreed, and I never gave up my new headgear. My young men took it up, and several cooks of Vienna admired their newly fashionable selves, never doubting that they would find devotees in Paris.' Careme's modest effort at bestowing a little "grace" on the chef's cap ushered in a new era of experimentation. The following decades tossed up a number of new styles, from pill-box shaped porkpie hats...to tam o'shanters...from black berets ato great cotton puffs swept backwards. Out of the welter of invention arose the modern toque, which Phillis Cunnington and Catherine Lucas, two historians of English costume, call 'one of the tallest hats ever to dignify a man.' Dignify, they suggest, is the true meaning of the toque; high hats have quite frequently adorned the leaders of social groups and lent them a commensuraltey imposing physical stature."
---The Curious Cook, Harold McGee [Macmillan:New York] 1990 (p. 28+)

This text is supported by more before and after here.  Look at the links to the left.  Chef's uniforms.  Find Careme under Chefs.  Explore the site.

Consider this extract in the context of today's TV chefs who consider head-cover a thing of the past. 
 ... for it appeared to me absolutely necessary not to change the cap itself, whose whiteness allies it so well to the rest of our uniform, and whose extreme cleanliness is the handsomest endowment of the cook. Professionals distinguish themselves by it, and by the order that they bring to their work...

Today, Andre Simon enjoys far more posthumous recognition than Careme.  Simon founded the important gourmet society here.

 
 
Raymond Oliver     here           more below or return to top here




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More on the kitchen brigade  - this time from Wiki. source   

This is an exhaustive list of the different members of the kitchen brigade system. Only the largest of establishments would have an extensive staff of this size. As noted under some titles, certain positions are combined into other positions when such a large staff is unnecessary. Note: Despite the use of "chef" in English as the title for a cook, the word actually means "chief" or "head" in French.

  • Chef de cuisine (kitchen chef; literally "chief of kitchen") – is responsible for overall management of kitchen; supervises staff, creates menus and new recipes with the assistance of the restaurant manager, makes purchases of raw food items, trains apprentices, and maintains a sanitary and hygienic environment for the preparation of food.
  •  
  • Sous-chef de cuisine (deputy kitchen chef; literally "sub-chief") – receives orders directly from the chef de cuisine for the management of the kitchen, and often serves as the representative when the chef de cuisine is not present.
  •  
  • Chef de partie (senior chef; literally "chief of party"—party used here as a group or military detail) – is responsible for managing a given station in the kitchen, specializing in preparing particular dishes there. Those who work in a lesser station are commonly referred to as a demi-chef.
  •  
  • Cuisinier (cook) – is an independent position, usually preparing specific dishes in a station; may also be referred to as a cuisinier de partie.
  •  
  • Commis (junior cook) – also works in a specific station, but reports directly to the chef de partie and takes care of the tools for the station.
  •  
  • Apprenti(e) (apprentice) – are often students gaining theoretical and practical training in school and work experience in the kitchen. They perform preparatory work and/or cleaning work.
  •  
  • Plongeur (dishwasher) – cleans dishes and utensils, and may be entrusted with basic preparatory jobs.[1]
    • Marmiton (pot and pan washer) – in larger restaurants, takes care of all the pots and pans instead of the plongeur.
    •  
  • Saucier (saucemaker/sauté cook) – prepares sauces and warm hors d'oeuvres, completes meat dishes, and in smaller restaurants, may work on fish dishes and prepare sautéed items. This is one of the most respected positions in the kitchen brigade, usually ranking just below the chef and sous-chef.
  •  
  • Rôtisseur (roast cook) – manages a team of cooks that roasts, broils, and deep fries dishes.
    • Grillardin (grill cook) – in larger kitchens, prepares grilled foods instead of the rôtisseur.
    •  
    • Friturier (fry cook) – in larger kitchens, prepares fried foods instead of the rôtisseur.
    •  
  • Poissonnier (fish cook) – prepares fish and seafood dishes. 
  •  
  • Entremetier (entrée preparer) – prepares soups and other dishes not involving meat or fish, including vegetable dishes and egg dishes. This is confusing. Next on the list is the Potager.  The word "entrée" is taken to mean small-meat main course items.  In the early days of menu evolution in France, most items were on the table as people entered the dining room hence "entrée".  Mets = dishes.    Later, dishes involving small pieces of meat had their own course - entrées.  The large joints came in to relieve the entrées and the course was the relevéW K H Bode in European Gastronomy, 1994, Hodder & Stoughton, pp144 to 146, gives more information. 

    • Potager (soup cook) – in larger kitchens, reports to the entremetier and prepares the soups. The "family tree" which follows this quotation shows the potager in his own right and better depicts the 1967 situation.  Contrast that, however, with what Raymond Oliver said here[Return here with the back-arrow, of course.]  
    •  
    • Legumier (vegetable cook) – in larger kitchen, also reports to the entremetier and prepares the vegetable dishes. The way they do or did things in the USA may well go against the situation in Europe.  It is not right to think of the entremetier as an entrée preparer here.  He and now she/he is the vegetable cook. 
    •  
  • Garde manger  [ie chef gardemanger]  (pantry [an American term inapplicable to the situation in the UK in 1967] supervisor; literally "food keeper") – is responsible for preparation of cold hors d'oeuvres, prepares salads, organizes large buffet displays, and prepares charcuterie [pork butchery] items.
  •  
  • Tournant (spare hand/roundsman [He would have been delighted to have been called this!  He would be in line for the next sous-chef position.  Nowadays, its she/he where such cuisine operation exists.]) – moves throughout the kitchen, assisting other positions in kitchen. We need to distinguish between the chef tournant and commis tournant.  The first relieved six chefs de partie for a day each week and had a day off himself.  The commis tournant relieved the premier commis on each partie.  Thus, what is now termed staff development was achieved to ensure the progression to the top - chef de cuisine and even chef des cuisines. 
  •  
  • Pâtissier (pastry cook) – prepares desserts [desserts is the quaint way of saying puddings and originally meant fresh fruit] and other meal-end sweets, and for locations without a boulanger, also prepares breads and other baked items; may also prepare pasta for the restaurant.
  •  
    • Confiseur – in larger restaurants, prepares candies [the obvious sign of the (American) language which divides two nations  here ] and petits fours instead of the pâtissier.
    •  
    • Glacier – in larger restaurants, prepares frozen and cold desserts instead of the pâtissier.
    •  
    • Décorateur – in larger restaurants, prepares show pieces and speciality cakes instead of the pâtissier. [This may have been in the situation long before 1967.  Where Google says "larger restaurants", it's best to think in terms of very large hotels with several restaurants, banqueting and conference facilities. The 1960s included Hotelympia in London and similar large exhibitions elsewhere with culinary competitions and displays.  Chefs were keen to collect more gold medals and any decorateurs who existed would have been among them.  The USA situation cannot be verified.]
    •  
    • Boulanger  (baker) – in larger restaurants, prepares bread, cakes, and breakfast pastries instead of the pâtissier.
    •  
  • Boucher (butcher) – butchers meats, poultry, and sometimes fish; may also be in charge of breading meat and fish items. 
  •  
  • Aboyeur (announcer/expediter) – takes orders from the dining room and distributes them to the various stations; may also be performed by the sous-chef de partie. The barker didn't/doesn't "take orders" - he shouts them across the kitchen.  Today, electronics ensures that the kitchen is quieter.  Discuss.
  •  
  • Communard – prepares the meal served to the restaurant staff.
  •  
  • Garçon de cuisine (literally "kitchen boy") – in larger restaurants, performs preparatory and auxiliary work for support.


Here is John Fuller's 1967 "family tree" [my name for it] and many of Wiki's brigade are seen in their place..




This family tree was first published in 1962 and relates very much to our year here, 1967.  

Chef's Manual of Kitchen Management, John Fuller, 2nd edition 1966, B T Batsford Ltd, p 28
 



Fuller opens his book with this (p1):

Chefs and the development of professional cookery

Chefs, although they are artistic, pride themselves on being essentially practical people. They tend, therefore, to place manipulative skills and culinary techniques higher on the list of desirable acquisites for the kitchen craftsman than book learning or theory. There may be some chefs, therefore, who would question the desirability of concerning themselves with any historical information about the evolution of their craft or the great figures in it. Yet if the great figures of kitchen history are considered to set an example, it is noteworthy that the most eminent chefs of the Western world in the past have not only left evidence of their practical abilities but even stronger evidence of their knowledge of the evolution and traditions of their calling.

The great men of the kitchen were not boorish manual workers who had somehow acquired superlative skills, they were men of sensibility who quickly realised that the understanding of the history of their trade and the performance of their predecessors could give them special understanding of, and sympathy for, their work. This helped awaken them into full consciousness of their culinary heritage. Such knowledge and such consciousness was not something merely to give a veneer of kitchen culture but the development of mood, instinct and the desire to take part in and urge forward the whole process of a fascinating and artistic craft.

Today it is significant that leaders of the hotel world and of the professional cuisine are more concerned than ever before that the young craftsman should not merely learn vocational skills and accompanying cookery theory but should also interest himself in the general background of his craft. The examples of the master chefs of the past, the way in which the classical, culinary repertoire has been built up, the development of kitchen tools and equipment are all matters to which the older chef is urged to direct the attention of the apprentice. A place has been found in the syllabuses in professional cookery and catering of major examining bodies, such as the City and Guilds of London Institute, to refer to this background knowledge. This they do because of the conviction that awareness of the past can enormously help in achieving an intelligent and adventurous approach into the future.

Significantly and intentionally so, are Fuller's concluding words:
 
... awareness of the past can enormously help in achieving an intelligent and adventurous approach into the future.


Let's return to the present in the context of the future here.


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