In the late 19th century, Escoffier and Cesar Ritz launched together the Savoy, the Carlton and the Ritz hotels, the first modern luxury hotels in Europe, pioneering unprecedented standards of quality in service and elegant dining.
Escoffier is credited for elevating French Haute Cuisine to new heights, first in Britain, then around the world.
Having started his apprenticeship at the age of 12 and managed various restaurants in Paris and the French Riviera, Escoffier’s career took an unexpected turn in 1883. He was hired as Head Chef by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, then Managing Director of “Grand Hôtel” of Monte Carlo. It marked the beginning of an exceptional collaboration and friendship between the two men, who together would pioneer unprecedented standards of quality in service and elegant dining for the luxury hospitality industry.
Together they joined the newly opened “Savoy Hôtel” in London in 1890, the first luxury hotel in Britain. At the time, taverns were prevalent, and upscale restaurants were a fairly new concept. Escoffier aimed to introduce the English to the subtlety and delicacy of French haute cuisine.
Escoffier and Cesar Ritz then co-founded the Ritz hotel chain: they opened together the Ritz Paris in 1898, the Carlton Hotel in London in 1899, the “Grand Hôtel” in Rome followed, as well as the Ritz in New York and Montreal among others. Escoffier also managed kitchens for the new luxury ocean liners, such as the Hamburg-Amerika shipping line.
Escoffier is credited for making a la carte dining into a worldwide industry standard. At the Savoy, he was the first to offer an a la carte menu in Britain. He took great care when it came to composing a menu, which, he would say, was “first and foremost, a poem”. Soon enough, Buckingham Palace and British ‘High Society’ would adopt that form of service, which later spread worldwide, thanks in part to the Ritz hotels.