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Cooking for Kings

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  180 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
A unique feast of biography and Regency cookbook, "Cooking for Kings "takes readers on a chef's tour of the palaces of Europe in the ultimate age of culinary indulgence.
Drawing on the legendary cook's rich memoirs, Ian Kelly traces Antonin Car me's meteoric rise from Paris orphan to international celebrity and provides a dramatic below-stairs perspective on one of the mos
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Walker Books Ltd (first published September 25th 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 362)
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Marie Antoine (Antonin) Carême was abandoned on the streets of Paris in the throes of the Terror. He started working for a pastry chef, and by the time he was a teenager was creating magnificent, imaginative pastry creations suitable for display. He became chef to Talleyrand, a gourmand who entertained ambassadors and royalty on behalf of the Napoleonic government. From there, Carême leapt from the kitchens of one court to the next, from the Romonovs to George IV to Vienna. His meticulous care a ...more
Jun 05, 2007 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The real story of the greatest chef of the Napoleonic era isn't much of a story. Though Antonin Careme published many volumes on cuisine, only the high points of his life are known, so this short book is mostly involved with the historical background of Careme's time. You get brief sketches of Careme's first major employer, the statesman Tallyrand, George IV of England, Alexander I of Russia, the Rothchilds, and various Bonapartes. At times the author tries to elevate Careme through his assocati ...more
Jan 13, 2009 Elise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Holy cannoli was this a bad book. In all honesty, I couldn't finish it, but I read enough to permit myself to list it here.

I guess it is interesting in the sense that it shows what results when someone who is obviously not much of a researcher nor historian writes about a historical figure who has left only a minimal paper trail.

You could open this book practically at random and find something laughable. For instance, Chapter 6 begins, "Betsy Patterson of Baltimore had hopes of ending 1807 as a
Jul 24, 2009 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born into a poor family, Careme was abandoned and taken in by a cook, which event gave him his taste for his future career. And what a career. It began at an early age and he quickly became so well known that he prepared Napoleon's wedding feast, when he first encountered the nouveau riche, and went on to service such as Talleyrand, who remained a close friend all his life, the Prince Regent, the Tsare of Russia and the Rothschilds. Inhaling charcoal fumes from his cooking eventually killed him ...more
Aug 10, 2007 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like food history
Shelves: biography
A friend sent this to me because she had a spare copy from using it as a textbook in a world or european history class. For a textbook, this is a great read. Careme had an interesting life and travelled widely for a poor kid from Paris. He was ambitious and gifted, successful both as a chef and an author, and incredibly influential on French cooking. The included recipes are very interesting, if not necessarily appealing to make. The writing, however, is dry and list-like, so I put the book down ...more
Jan 12, 2013 Dan rated it liked it
While interesting, the interest stems mostly from the subject matter. After all, Careme was "the" progenitor of the chef as public persona and the first to truly codify the basics of French cooking. Reading about his rags to riches, or abandoned street urchin to celebrity life is, at the least, educational. That aside, the book itself suffers from stilted writing, it's a bit tedious, and in the end, a bit of a bore. There's almost a sense that the writer wants to prove his own importance simply ...more
Nov 08, 2011 Will rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-writing
one of the best historical food books I've read. Antonin Careme had a close connection to so many events that shaped the world during his time. He was one of the first chefs by our modern day definition and we may never see such elaborate feasts the likes of which he created... unless there is yet another made for t.v. Kardashian wedding.

the book is also filled with recipes that give you a glimpse into the past... you can literally cook the foods enjoyed by kings, queens, and dictators the way C
Jun 17, 2008 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-related
Before Mario, Emeril, or Bobby Flay, Antonin Careme was the "must have" chef for European Royalty and High Society. Napolean, Nordic Princes and Tsar's all vied for his services. A very interesting read, providing insight to some of history's movers and shakers. In a time before refrigeration (or, electricity!) it is awe inspiring, to say the least, to read the astronomical amount of work that was involved in creating these meals, both elegant and ordinary.
You'll never take your oven or mixer fo
Nov 12, 2008 Alleyne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Cooking for Kings is an excellent look at the world's first celebrity chef. A must for all gastronomes. It also illustrates a different side of the "regency" period that isn't generally known. Well written, if a little slow, the book is itself a masterpiece of the publishing art. Beautiful typeface, smooth paper and wonderful illustrations. And the recipes!
Aug 28, 2010 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic little book! I'm a fan of cook books and history of cooking--and I love it when I find a book that combines both. Basically a biography of the great chef Antonin Careme, the book is scattered with recipes he wrote as well as illustrations of some of his pastry masterpieces. If you're looking for an interesting but lighter fare, try this one out.
Jun 04, 2015 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is based on the Kindle version. *This has to be the worst edited edition on kindle I've seen in many years. I did not base my review on the copious amounts of errors.*

The book itself should be a wealth of information about the very foundations of Western cuisine. It is not. It is a rambling narrative which the reader learns:

1. The author apparently doesn't like Napoleon and Josephine. Don't really know how that effects the development of Chef Careme's career.

2. The narrative itself l
Jenny Macdonald
Sep 23, 2011 Jenny Macdonald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book,amazing character and learnt a lot about the history and period of that time. The recipes are great fun too and an insight into how people ate in that period
Ann Mah
Mar 10, 2011 Ann Mah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a sketch than a biography. But I loved seeing 18th- and 19th-century France through the veneer of high-end cuisine.
Newport Librarians
Before Antonin Careme, chefs wore slouchy workers' hats and any old color of clothing they wished. But as the first celebrity chef, whose work included designing centerpieces for Napoleon's nuptials and cooking for the Prince Regent (later King George IV of England), Careme insisted on the importance of hygiene in professional kitchens. White clothes were his way of signifying the seriousness with which cooks should take cleanliness; and those high chefs' hats (toques) were his way of displaying ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting peek into life during a true food revolution. As a modern-day foodie, I enjoyed reading about the life and lasting impact of Marie-Antoine (Antonin) Careme. In this modern age where an appliance exists for every task and dining conventions are taken for granted, many of the cooking innovations of the early 1800's were rather surprising.

The biography was written in a straightforward manner and I rather enjoyed the food-related quotations at the beginning of each chapter. I do wish
Mar 17, 2009 Stef rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biography argues that Carême, a French chef in the first half of the 19th century, invented modern haute cuisine. It describes in great detail some of the aristocratic feasts he prepared. Carême kept detailed records and wrote several books; many of his recipes are featured throughout the book. If you want to try them, it will take some translation, since the units of measure he uses are different from modern ones. Also, make sure you have access to a food processor! There are some drawings ...more
Nicholas Aune
Mar 03, 2015 Nicholas Aune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good biography of the godfather of modern French cuisine. Kelly crafts a broad sketch of Careme, portraying him on one hand as a thoughtful, learned perfectionist, as well as a bitchy, aloof gold digger. The book itself comes with original sketches by Careme as well as some of his recipes and a nifty appendix that helps translate some of the arcane measurements of classic French cuisine.
Jan 08, 2008 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: HARDCORE culinary geeks
Recommended to Dan by: NPR
Shelves: never_finished
I'm not sure what I was thinking. I am by no means a gourmand, and have never even feigned an interest in cooking, but something in the way Kelly spoke about Careme on NPR a few years ago really made the chef sound like such an interesting character, almost like this Forest Gump of 19th Century France. Sadly, it didn't translate very well to print form. In certain cases, such as the many banquets he prepared, there is abundant detail. Yet for all of that, there was a lot of information missing a ...more
Nicholas Lapp
While there are a few pictures, and drawings of his creations, I do wish this book was a bit more in depth. Careme cooked at an insanely lavish time, banquets for 100's to 1000's, the menu lists are remarkable for the quantities (a dinner in two tents along the Champs-Elysee used 28,000 bottles of wine...)

It's an easy read and great for anyone into cooking, but it's breezy and light. I would have liked more research on what it involved to procure such quantities and comparative economics of the
Apr 10, 2013 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by a wonderful chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu. Although you would think the biography of the first celebrity chef would be gripping, Careme's story lacked details about his private life. Honestly, it does not seem like the author had many private letters from the chef's wife, mother of his child or his estranged daughter. If you are knowledgeable of the 19th c. French history, you might enjoy this one more.
Vague is the beat word o describe this book. It just describes things very vaguely. It describes people, including the main subject, vaguely. I wanted to learn more about Carême and why he's so important in the culinary world and I came away with mostly vague notions as to what he accomplished that actually impacted in the lives of chefs that came after him.
Not a very good book at all.
Jan 27, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting biography of an almost-forgotten pioneer of cuisine. A lot of the dishes that were described in the book could have probably used more description for somebody like me who is vaguely familiar with some epicurean terms but can't quite picture them in my head in modern context. Good background history on the royal courts and households where Careme cooked.
Feb 06, 2009 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Written in a narrative/cookbook style - although the recipes and menus are the "acquired taste" novelties prevalent in the 1800's for wealthy and royal inner circles. The chef (Coreme) led a rags to riches life, with a less than prominent demise.
Oct 05, 2009 Deena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for my culinary history reading group. Intriguing discussions of how chefs dealt with serving fancy food to large crowds pre-electricity. Not a very engaging book overall.
Oct 15, 2010 Carolann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The pictures in this book were my favorite part.

I enjoyed reading about the food.

Though I don't see myself even attempting the recipes included here.

Jan 11, 2011 Heidi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great menus, too much detail on relationships, but good investigation of ancient history in the cooking world.
Tim Gaskill
Feb 16, 2011 Tim Gaskill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read, fascinating history. So much cooking today descended from Careme, including the funny chef's hat.
Mar 19, 2011 Kjersten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if you love to cook read this book. i read it and want to go do somethign amazing
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Ian Kelly is a multi-award-nominated actor, writer and presenter of TV documentaries. He is the Sunday Times Biographer of the Year 2008-9 (Casanova). He is currently filming the last of the Harry Potter films as Hermione's father, he transfers in the National Theatre's production of The Pitmen Painters to Broadway in 2010.
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