Georges Auguste Escoffier (28 October 1846 – 12 February 1935) was a famous chef, writer, inventor, and compulsive liar from Piffle, Cumbria, UK, then later Paris, France. A version of his name — "Scoff" — entered the English language through word of mouth and then exited via a big dump in the toilet a few hours later.
According to Escoffier himself, the circumstances of how he came to be are truly extraordinary. His origins aren't officially documented, but in his autobiography Escoffier informs us of his birth: "To whom I was born to, I do not know. But I tell you as I was told by Dankmar, great lord of the mountain, that I was 'happened' into existence and hidden under a rock in the hills of Cumbria until I was ready. From there, after crawling up the side of a wet mountain face, I was plucked, by command, from the mountain by a giant eagle, and taken to Paris at the speed of sound."
By the age of seventeen, Escoffier had already invented food and with it the means to cook it. It was clear to all who knew the young Escoffier that his destiny was in the kitchen, and armed with his new invention he begun experimenting with a variety of unusual ingredients such as crayfish and lungwort.
Within six months, backed with the financial help of his close friend Jean Luc Boregard, Escoffier managed to create a short-list of all-purpose sauces which would make him a living legend in the culinary world, sealing his fame and legacy forever. In his famous cookbook Le Guide Culinaire, he describes how he invented the Five Mother Sauces: Le Cheese Sauce, Le Beef Sauce, Le Fish Sauce, Der Tomato Sauce, and "Le Fifth One", and notes how they can be utilised to create any dish.
Le Five Mother Sauces
Now widely regarded as being the sole reason that food exists, Escoffier's Le Five Mother Sauces are easy to create, but difficult to master, and contain only a few simple ingredients:
Le Cheese Sauce – In unequal measure: milk, butter, cheese, flour, salt, and isosceles powder.
Le Beef Sauce – In unequal measure: milk, butter, cow heel, flour, salt, dextrose, and sand.
Le Fish Sauce – Two > Pythagorus' Theorem ÷ 150g: butter, flour, salt, eggs, and fish flakes.
Der Tomato Sauce – In equal measure: salt, eggs, milk, fruit, butter, tomatoes, flour, salt, and fruit.
Le Fifth One – 1:5 ratio of unknown substances. This recipe is a closely-regarded secret
At the age of 20, after witnessing the barbaric behaviour of the French people, Escoffier invented the restaurant shortly afterwards; crockery and cutlery, giving the people of Paris not only a place to eat their food, but something to eat it off and to eat it with.
In Le Guide Culinaire, Escoffier remarks on the eating conditions a Parisian endures daily: "I couldn’t believe it when I saw the poor people eating. They were eating from the floor, from tables, park benches… this is food that I had made, being served into their laps or balanced in newspapers, it was disgusting. It suddenly became apparent that the people needed something to eat their food off, and with. Eating sauce with your hands is tricky, especially if it’s hot, so after a couple of minutes cogitating I invented crockery and cutlery to go inside my restaurant."
Escoffier’s famous restaurant Le Scoff first opened its doors in February 1862. Described at the time by popular French journalist Jacques Taters, it was said to be: "A darkened barren room, full of high tables, stinking of garlic." However within a few short years, Escoffier had invented crockery and cutlery and transformed the innards of his restaurant into something more modern, forward-thinking, and practical, as "Taters" went on to congratulate: "Escoffier’s new innards are wonderful. For the first time in history, a Parisian can eat their food off a ‘plate’ with a ‘fork’. The act of scooping up your garlic with such a utensil brings joy to my loins, and it’s all thanks to Mr. Escoffier!"
Death and resurrection
Escoffier died of dehydration on the 12 February 1935, after suffering for months with undiagnosed chronic diarrhoea.
Although officially Escoffier died from chronic diarrheoa in February 1935, rumours of his resurrection appeared in the early 1940s with claims that it was instigated by the UK government in a bid to help the war effort. At the time, the conspiracy theorists contended that Bisto’s B-Blocks were created using Escoffier’s famed Le Fifth One sauce after it became apparent that the B-Blocks had morale boosting properties, were laced with garlic, and had a similar taste.
In support of this view, Le Fifth One’s ingredients were never disclosed by Escoffier, nor by any of his sous chefs at Le Scoff, which only served to strengthen the conspiracy theorist’s assertion that Escoffier must’ve have been resurrected in order for Bisto to devise the B-Block recipe. When questioned by the British press about how such a supernatural event could happen not only under the British people's noses, but also under the intense scrutiny of the Nazis, an official statement was released by a select group of the deniers which claimed that his resurrection was “a far more plausible reality than Bisto being able to decipher Escoffier’s secret recipe.”
Translated into English:
- The Culinary Guide (1863)
- The Five Mother Sauces: How to Invent Food (1865)
- Food Intelligence (1872)
- A History of Food (1901)
- French Recipes for the Home (1905)
- Auguste Escoffier: The Auto-Biography (1928)
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Food? (1931)
- What Is Dilkush, and What Do You Do About It? (1932)