A Culinary Campaign
Alexis Soyer [+–]
His charitable and philanthropic undertakings included inventing the soup kitchen during the Potato Famine in Ireland and, of course, he risked his own life by travelling to the Crimean front to advise on Army catering. He wrote a number of books and even in this he had concern for the ordinary household as the titles of many of his book suggest:
Délassements Culinaires (1845)
The Gastronomic Regenerator (1846)
Soyer’s Charitable Cookery (1847)
The Poorman’s Regenerator (1848)
The Modern Housewife of Menagere (1850)
A Shilling Cookery Book for the People (1855)
Soyer’s Culinary Campaign (1857)
Elizabeth Ray [+–]
Michael Barthorp [+–]
Alexis Soyer is known as the great cook of the Reform Club and author of a number of cookery books who single-handedly transformed Army catering which in the mid-nineteenth century was truly horrific. This is the first reprint of Soyer’s extremely rare book, first published in 1857, about his time in the Crimean War. Soyer, a Frenchman by birth who worked his entire life in the UK, went to the front at his own expense. He was a celebrity chef with a social conscience having also fed starving Irish during the Great Famine. His witty first-hand account is informative and vivid and conveys the conviction and diplomatic skills that enabled him to get things done. For instance, he reformed army food and developed the field stove which bears his name was which was still being used in modified form during the Gulf War. He became a friend of Florence Nightingale and used his contacts among the major military figures of the day to transform conditions for the ordinary soldier. Sadly, he himself never recovered from his time in the Crimea and died two years after the war ended.
The Army has plans to restore his tomb in Kensal Green, a belated gesture towards a man to whom it owes so much. The Guild of Food Writers have awarded the 2007 prize to Relish by Ruth Cowen, a full-scale biography of Alexis Soyer.