Monday, November 11, 2019

Soyer’s Army Barrack Cooking Apparatus and obit 1858

Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) was born and trained in France, became a famous chef in London, designed the Reform Club kitchen and other cooking equipment.  He helped during the Irish famine, and the military during the Crimean War (which shortened his life).

The Illustrated London News  Aug 14, 1858 contained an obituary and a short article about his last project (image).  More on his work during the Irish famine, his flour mill & bakery on ships during the Crimean War, and more  HERE
"THE above kitchen was opened by the late much-lamented chef de cuisine, Alexis Soyer, on the morning of July 28.

The purpose of the kitchen, as will be seen, is to give a greater variety in the food of the soldier, as this stove will roast, bake, broil, fry, boil, and stew, at the same time effecting an immense saving in fuel; while its chief merit is simplicity, combined with economy. It is capable of cooking a dinner either for one man or a battalion, and, had not poor Soyer been cut off so suddenly, his intention was to have practically demonstrated its superiority over other stoves by preparing the rations of 700 soldiers in the presence of the military authorities; however, we are glad to learn that there is every probability of M. Soyer's views being effectually carried out by gentlemen who have been closely and intimately connected with the chef in matters of business.

M. SOYER was born at Meaux-en-Brie, France, in the year 1808, and was sent to a monastic seminary in his native town, having as his tutor the Grand Vicar, who was also his uncle, but, finding that he had no vocation for a religious life, he left the establishment, and went to Paris, where he was apprenticed to Douix, the celebrated chef de cuisine who “reigned” in the time of Charles X. Having served his time, on the invitation of his brother, cook to the late Duke of Cambridge, he came to England in the year 1831, and has since taken up his abode in this country, eventually arriving at a position as second to none in his difficult art.

His endeavours to ameliorate the condition of the starving Irish during the time of the famine in that country were highly successful; but poor Soyer only got naked thanks; indeed, he was out of pocket by the transaction.

His next public essay was his visit to the Crimea, where, as is well known, he effected an immense amount of good in improving the dietary of the army.  M. Soyer, at the time of his death, was [?boldly] engaged in improving the dietary of military hospitals, Government emigrants and the army.  There can be no doubt that the seeds of his malady were sewn in the Crimea, as ever since he has been ailing, and an overtaxed mind has thus prematurely brought to the grave a man whom the world could ill afford to lose.  M. Soyer died, on Thursday week, at his residence in St. John’s Wood. 
For further information we refer our readers to a biography of Soyer by his secretary, Mr. Warren, to be published in a few days."   [The Memoirs of Alexis Soyer. Compiled and Edited by F. Volant & J R Warren His late secretaries And Esteemed friend J G Lomax.]

©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
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