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Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  967 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Luke Barr explores the advent of the luxe life through the saga of hotelier Cesar Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier, whose partnership brought us not only the adjective 'ritzy, ' itself no small testament, but also such once-novel phenomena as hotel rooms with their own bathrooms, and innovative dishes like peach Melba. It's a charming tale of success, scandal, and redemptio ...more
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Clarkson Potter Publishers
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Ryan Non-fiction. Biography of the hotel world created by Ritz and Escoffier in the 1890s and early 20th century.
Phyllis My book group prefers to read books available in the library , to avoid expense. So we sometimes have to wait a while before reading.

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Resh (The Book Satchel)
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book!! If you have a thing for glitz and glam and luxury living, this book is for you. I love how Barr writes! He does not make the narrative boring anywhere along the whole book. While I was aware of Ritz because of the chain of hotels, I had no idea of Escofier, his friend and chef, who was instrumental in his growth.

That's what the book is all about. What a pair Ritz and Escoffier are! Their stint at Savoy hotel and their decision to start out on their own. There are scandals, li
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier teamed up in the 1890s, changing the hotel and restaurant industries, first in London at the Savoy Hotel, then in Paris and eventually the world. They brought a new sophistication and sense of luxury in everything they did, from room decor, the treatment of guests and how food is prepared. Under their direction, the Savoy, with its modern electric lights, elevators, en suite bathrooms, and superior restaurant became THE hotel destination in London.
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Luke Barr, who has written before on high profile chefs, provides a dual biography of Cesar Ritz and August Eschffier, the hotelier and chef who together invented 20th century models for the luxury hotel with the world class restaurant attached to it and serving the most prestigious customers in the world. The book chronicles the rise of the duo from early successes in Europe to their breakout at the Savoy Hotel in London to their move back to Paris to found the Ritz Hotel to their subsequent ex ...more
Judy Lesley
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I received an ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine program.

Cesar Ritz was already on his way to making a name for himself before Richard D'Oyly Carte convinced him to come to London for a short stay to help get the new Savoy Hotel on its feet. Ritz brought along Auguste Escoffier to take care of the food side of the service. Both men remained much longer than they had expected to and were instrumental in changing the old rules of accommodation and dining for their wealthy patrons. The juggli
This book was full of interesting facts and stories, but I didn't find it to be very engaging to read. I've read several other non-fiction books where the author brought the story to life. This author's writing didn't do that for me. Honestly I was pretty disappointed. ...more
LAPL Reads
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is something wonderfully gossipy about Ritz & Escoffier: the hotelier, the chef, and the rise of the leisure class. In tracing the rise of the luxurious Savoy Hotel, under the leadership of César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier, Luke Barr grants readers a glimpse into some of the biggest scandals of the Belle Époque, letting us get up close and personal with the celebrities involved. Barr also provides luscious descriptions of extravagant parties held at the hotel. These parties are filled with ...more
Margaret Sankey
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Have I mentioned lately how much I miss teaching the World of Food class? Before Ritz and Escoffier, "hotels" were either the house of someone from whom you could wrangle and invitation, or a crummy inn where you might sleep with strangers and bedbugs, or maybe an exclusive spa that refused to admit nouveau riche Americans or Jews. Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier has begun their quiet revolution in hotels in Switzerland and along the holiday coast of France, but their paths crossed at the whim ...more
Theresa Connors
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Well researched but the writing was meh. It didn’t draw me in.
3.5* - more chatty and gossipy than I was hoping for, less about the food end, and it peters out at the finish, but ultimately the breezy style is why I ate this up in two days. So, I'm knocking it up a star even though it commits what I consider the cardinal sin in history nonfiction and even opens the book doing it: the thing where the narrative gets into the head of a real-life person as if they are a character in a fiction book, when there is no reasonable way the author could know the detai ...more
Dianne Everson
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but it is not for everyone.
The history is interesting, but Escoffiers menus were a little tedious after the second multi course one.
It would make a fun movie, with the "ritzy" hotels and period costumes.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food
A highly readable and entertaining book about Ritz and Escoffier, two figures who revolutionised luxury and pleasure, perhaps most notably in changing who should get to experience it. Throughout the book, Barr gives us compelling insights into the minds of the characters and threads together unfolding stories with a strong grasp of pace and detail. As someone interested in food, I particularly enjoyed reading about Escoffier's approach to cooking and eating, especially as his name is still so re ...more
From the Publisher - In early August 1889, Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hotelier highly regarded for his exquisite taste, found himself at the Savoy Hotel in London. He had come at the request of Richard D'Oyly Carte, the financier of Gilbert & Sullivan's comic operas, who had modernized theater and was now looking to create the world's best hotel. D'Oyly Carte soon seduced Ritz to move to London with his team, which included Auguste Escoffier, the chef de cuisine known for his elevated, original dishes. ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway***

I don't know y'all...I just couldn't get into this book. It was fine, I guess, but not more than that. I did learn things that were fascinating, but I wish there had been more. I feel like the author started in the middle of the story and glossed over large swathes of Ritz and Escoffier's lives. It felt rushed. All in all, it's a great topic but a mediocre book.
Lauren Albert
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-british
This gives a very good sense of what it was like then for people with money and/or fame. He shows how Ritz stage managed a change from a world where women did not eat in restaurants to a world where anyone who could afford to ate in restaurants. And perhaps most significantly, a world where hotel rooms did not have bathrooms to a world where they did. 😉
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book provides an interesting look at the lives of hotelier César Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier. Both left "the continent" to tackle the jobs of establishing a grand hotel with a grand restaurant in London. At that time in England, fine entertainment was usually done only in private homes and gentlemen's clubs, which of course excluded a lot of people. Also, it was debatable if the food served during such exclusive gathering could even qualify as "fine dining". The British were not seen as ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'll be back when I have read the book. It looks like an interesting biography, but at the same time made by another small time propagandist: the "leisure class" could not have been made or "risen" because of a cook and small time manager. They merely taped an unaddressed need. And the offer was mostly bullshit, as the people writing about Escoffier barely understand physics, chemistry or economics, yet they are in ecstasy about dishes they have never tasted in the original form. ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, biography
Hotelier Cesar Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier transform the Savoy in London and later open the Ritz hotel. Their story is quite interesting as it exposes the prejudices and the rise of the leisure class.
Sarah Wolfe
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable and engaging overview of Ritz' and Escoffier's career(s). Set well in the context of history. ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
DeAnna Knippling
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Hotelier Ritz and chef Escoffier take the fusty old hotel business and shake it the power of amenities and poached peaches!

This was a fun, short, fast read about the transformation of the London hotel business (centering on the Savoy) from the old world to one we can recognize today: calculated luxury. Recommend as a light nonfiction read for the late Victorian period.
Dan Seitz
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, 2019, paper
A brisk, light look at the title subjects, how they changed how we travel and eat, and how oddly corrupt they were in their own way.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This was pretty good, but I was left kind of sad at the end. I also felt like there was something missing...I don't know. The main focus is on Ritz, but we learn very little about his early life; he sort of just materializes as someone who is already fairly well established in the hotel industry. And Escoffier plays second fiddle a bit for the first part of the book. I feel like I learned even less about his back story (oh, and his poor wife...whatever happened to her?!).

Also, I wish I had not l
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Realistically there are only two things that could make this book better. If Oscar Wilde didn't exist and if the book came with scratch and sniff sections.
Also the rich people were crazy loose with their money back then.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A captivating and well-researched slice of Gilded Age life. Ritz and Escoffier are legends in the worlds of service, luxury, and style. The book captures the moment that the Savoy hotel became the place to be seen by London's elite. The details on Escoffier's famed elaborate menus, gossip at the time, and the tidal shift in wealth made this a fascinating read. ...more
Ronald Koltnow
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
What does one think of when one hears the name Ritz? Cesar Ritz, the man behind the concept of ritzy, was a simple man, uneducated and insecure. He thought he had peasant hands. Yet, he knew the hotel business. When approached by the owners of the Savoy Hotel in London, Ritz took charge and modernized the concept of hotels and service forever. Ritz's first act was to install Auguste Escoffier as the hotel's chef. Escoffier, with his theory of brigade de cuisine, revolutionized the preparation of ...more
Schuyler Wallace
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing

The stories of both a legendary hotelman and an exemplary chef make for a great read in Luke Barr’s “Ritz & Escoffier.” The late 1800s into the early 1900s was the period of the European grand hotel and two men, Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier, were largely responsible for the proliferation of many fine hostelries at that time.

Hotelier Cesar Ritz became famous as his travels around the world of hospitality took him through ever-increasing levels of responsibility as he created and maintained t
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting and informative, this small book captured the heart of Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier’s vision to create the ultimate luxurious hotel and dining experience. Together they gave us the meaning behind “ritzy” and showed us how fine dining could be. Barr shared a lot of information in the book, but not how he knew it or where he found it. I know this wasn’t an academically written history book, and I didn’t expect footnotes. To find the information believable rather than just dubious a ...more
Jennifer Malinowski
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ritz and Escoffier by Luke Barr is a fascinating story of the rise of the famed Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz and the French chef Auguste Escoffier. Barr's pleasant writing style made this narrative nonfiction book one I read in a little over a day. I enjoyed the descriptions of the opulence of the Savoy and Ritz Hotels and a glimpse into the life of the upper class who stayed at these hotels.

However, I did not find that the book sufficiently explored the "Rise of the Leisure Class." There was litt
Daniel Kukwa
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Brisk, efficient, informative & entertaining pop culture history. The gossipy tone helps to make the story fly, and manages to impart a great deal of information without overloading the reader with too much minutiae.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun, light read.

However, no matter how visually evocative the descriptive writing is, it is unconscionable to publish a book like this without a single photograph.
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Luke Barr is the author of RITZ & ESCOFFIER and the New York Times bestselling PROVENCE, 1970. The former features editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife, architect Yumi Moriwaki, and their two daughters.

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