The Formation of the Escoffier Society
In the Jantzen suite at the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria there was formed early last year (1936), an organization which bids fair to become the high authority and final arbiter in all matters epicurean in this part of the country. For never has a body of men assembled around a festive board in this city which was more representative of what the word “epicurean” really means.
Sponsored by the philanthropic organization into which the best known chefs of America have grouped themselves — The American Culinary Federation — the gathering at the Waldorf met for the purpose of forming an epicurean society created along entirely new lines.
Its novelty alone made it a success from the start, although the outstanding positions of those who sponsored the movement constitute by themselves a guaranty of certain success. The men who gathered at the Waldorf named their group “The Friends of Escoffier,” as a tribute to Auguste Escoffier, who, until his recent passing, had well deserved the title of the world’s greatest cook.
The aim of the club, as stated in the original announcement, is “to bring together members of the culinary profession and loyal friends who appreciate good food and good wines; men who believe in the adage “Live and let Live”; men who place sincere friendship above all else. The membership shall be limited to one hundred.
“The Friends of Escoffier” will have no administrative officers. There will be no dictatorial influence to impose its will in the selection of members, of gathering places, of wines or of menus. No president, no treasurer, no secretary.
And just to give an idea of what these masters of the culinary art order for themselves when they gather around the festive board, here is the menu prepared by Gabriel Lugot, chef de cuisine of the Waldorf-Astoria. The bluefish, it will be noticed, was done “in our own style”; the Long Island duck was garnished “simply with green peas”; and the salad was “well mixed with olive oil.”
The First Dinner Menu of the Escoffffier Society of New York
The introduction to and the menu served at the first Escoffier dinner are reprinted below. These appeared in “Along the Wine Trail,” a booklet of recipes and menus originally published in The Sun, a former New York City daily newspaper.
Author of the “Wine Trail” column was G. Selmer Fougner, one of the Society’s founders and said to have been the first newspaper food and wine columnist in this country.
The Jantzen Suite
March 30, 1936
Chef de Cuisine
Fantaisies Chaudes et Froides
Celeri Olives Vertes et Noires
Bluefish a Notre Façon
Caneton de Long Island
Simplement aux Petits Pois
(Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1926)
Salade de Saison aux Fines Herbes
Bien Mélangée à l’Huile d’Olive
Soufflé Glacé Escoffier