Abstract

Garval, "Alexis Soyer and the Rise of the Celebrity Chef"

While largely forgotten today, French-born British culinarian Alexis Soyer (1809-1858), transformed our vision of the chef as a public figure. Like other early celebrity chefs, he first styled himself as a great man of letters, but his dandyism, theatrics, tireless self-fashioning and promotion, and, above all, his widely-read and flatteringly-illustrated books, propelled him toward a new kind of renown. In particular, his humanitarian efforts in the Crimean War, and account thereof in his Culinary Campaign (1857), established that chefs need not pretend to be great writers, to be seen as noteworthy personages – a shift underpinning their later emergence as broadcast stars. This essay appears in _Romantic Gastronomies_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.