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THE ADVENTUROUS CHEF: ALEXIS SOYER by Ann Arnold

THE ADVENTUROUS CHEF: ALEXIS SOYER

By Ann Arnold (Author) , Ann Arnold (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 2002
ISBN: 0-374-31665-1
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The illustrator of the splendid Fanny at Chez Panisse (1997) offers a fascinating pictorial biography of an engaging personality, the French chef Alexis Soyer. Apprenticed to his brother, he was a chef by the time he was 17, already expressing his vivid personality in raffish clothing and spouting off all sorts of ideas. In 1837, he participated in the design of the Reform Club kitchen in London, and Arnold provides a marvelous double-paged spread of its interior workings, all carefully thought out by Soyer. He invented a number of cooking utensils and created various ways of feeding the poor and hungry in London and in Dublin. After tragically losing his young wife, he threw himself into the task of feeding soldiers in the Crimea. Arnold’s brilliantly colored illustrations, with their precise and nervous lines, convey the hive of activities involved in feeding people on a large scale. Large panoramas and small vignettes, like Soyer at the bedside of an ill Florence Nightingale, balance and inform the text. The excitement of food and food preparation set in a historical context radiates from every page; middle-grade readers and those ready for a biography of a totally unique individual, irreplaceable by all accounts, will be fascinated. (Biography. 8-12)