On Cooking: Marie-Antoine Careme

CaremeCareme lived from 1783-1833. He was known as the “Cook of Kings and The King of Cooks.”  He was an acknowledged master of French Grande Cuisine. He worked his way to the top. When he was a child, he was abandoned on the Paris Streets and worked as  cook’s helper. He eventually worked his way up the food chain so to speak. He was known as the cook of kings because during his career he worked for the gourmand and French Diplomat Prince Talleyrand, the Prince Regent of England, Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Baron De Rothschild among others.Careme Dessert

His goal was to achieve lightness, grace, order and perspicuity in the presentation of and preparation of food. His confectionary creations were elegant and elaborate in design. Many of them were based on architectural designs. Being the showman that he was, he garnished dishes with ornamental hatelets (skewers) that were threaded with colorful ingredients. Some of those ingredients were crayfish and intricately carved vegetables. He presented his creations on elaborate socles (bases).

Being  a Saucier he standardized the use of Roux as a thickening agent, perfected  recipes and devised a system for classifying sauces. As a garde-manger he popularized cold cuisine, emphasizing molds and aspic dishes. He also designed kitchen equipment and tools and uniforms.

He wrote several texts and illustrated them as well. His five volume masterpiece on the state of his profession was completed by his associate after he died. Plumerey completed the last of the set by writing the last two volumes. Careme’s writings almost single handedly refined and summarized five hundred years of Culinary evolution. According to Laurent Tailhade Careme died becausOther Careme Dessertse he was burnt out “by the flame of his genius and the coal of the spits.” He died before age 50.

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