Sometimes, there is nothing better than enjoying a meal out in a fancy restaurant. And while there are some fantastic cooks out there running exquisite eateries restaurants, there are certain chefs who have set themselves apart from their peers due to their inventiveness, dedication and sheer skill.
But who are the chefs who have really made their culinary mark over the years? And what have they done to deserve such recognition?
Although Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was a pharmacist by profession, it was thanks to him that the art of bread-making and the use of the potato in cooking became more refined. It was due to his investigations into the use of the potato in cooking that the Paris Faculty of Medicine declared them edible in 1772. He hosted dinners at which potatoes were a prominent ingredient and nowadays, any dish with the description Parmentier in its name will contain potatoes. He also founded a bread-making school.
Joseph Favre was born in Switzerland in 1849 and founded the first ever newspaper written by a culinary chef – The Science of Cooking. He also founded the Culinary Academy of France, which organises and competes in competitions, exhibitions and conferences in France and around the world. For many, France is considered to be the home of fine dining and between the two world wars, the Culinary Academy of France became increasingly gourmet.
These days, anyone who goes to New York is spoilt with a choice of restaurants and fantastic eateries. In the 1800s, Delmonico’s Restaurant was the place to eat and Charles Ranhofer was the chef there from 1862 until 1876 and 1879 till 1896. He was the author of 1,000-page encyclopaedic book The Epicurean and invented numerous dishes for which Delmonico’s was famous, including Lobster Duke Alexis, Veal pie a la Dickens and Salad a la Dumas.
Although he was French, Alexis Benoist Soyer became the most celebrated cook in Victorian England. After earning his chefs whites and working for many notable members of British high society, he became the chef de cuisine at the Reform Club in London in 1837 and designed kitchens, as well as coming up with many innovations, including cooking with gas, ovens with adjustable temperatures and fridges cooled with cold water. He prepared a breakfast for 2,000 people at the club when Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838. Soyer went to Ireland during the Great Irish Famine to implement his idea of a soup kitchen, while he joined troops during the Crimean War to advise the army on cooking.
Raymond Blanc OBE was born in France in 1949 and has become one of the most well respected chefs in Britain. He owns the two Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, which also has five AA stars and received a score of 19/20 from the French guide Gault Millau. Perhaps most impressively, Blanc is entirely self taught.
Although he is a French-born chef, Michel Roux worked in London and his restaurant Le Gavroche became the first restaurant in the UK to receive three Michelin stars when it opened in 1967. He and his brother Albert have been described as the “godfathers of modern restaurant cuisine in the UK” and he has received several French orders.
It seems as though culinary skills run in the Roux family, as Albert’s son Michel Roux Jr has followed in his footsteps and is currently the chef patron of Le Gavroche. He had written several cook books, one of which was named the best book on matching wine and food at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and he is a judge on the MasterChef: The Professionals TV series.
He may be a very famous television celebrity, best known for his work on programmes such as Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and The F Word, but Gordon Ramsay is actually a very talented and skilled chef who has gained much acclaim for his restaurants. Over the course of his career he has been awarded 13 Michelin stars and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is one of only four three-star Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK. This is a very impressive achievement and cements Ramsay as a truly world-class chef, as well as a TV personality.