His meeting with César Ritz
In October 1884, he became the Chef of the “Grand Hotel” in Monte-Carlo. This establishment belonged to a Swiss family, the Jungbluths. It was managed by César Ritz, who would later open the “Hotel national” in Lucerne. The “Grand Hotel” in Monte-Carlo was then an old establishment, and under more competition from the brand new “Hotel de Paris”. Extremely comfortable and luxurious, Jean Giroix, the chef of the “Grand Hotel” came and took over the kitchens. Giroix often extolled the merits of a young chef to Ritz, one Auguste Escoffier, whose reputation was beginning to grow. Ritz immediately asked him, in the height of the season, to come to the “Grand Hotel”. This was an important date in the career of both men, because their respective genius would allow them an extraordinary collaboration that would result in the creation of the international luxury hospitality trade.
“The partnership between Ritz and Escoffier counts among the happiest events of their lives” noted Mrs Ritz in her book about her husband.
With the winter season in Monte-Carlo over, Escoffier followed Ritz to Lucerne, where he managed the kitchens of the “National”. It was at this time that train travel would see a marked development. The “Riviera” (as the “Côte d’Azur was not yet in existence) was linked to Paris by the railway as of 1865. From 1883 to 1896, fast luxury trains were launched one after the other: the Orient Express, the Calais-Rome, which went through Nice, the Sud-Express and the Nord-Express, etc. All this encouraged tourism.
The future King of Denmark, Frederick VIII, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, King Francis II of the Two-Sicilies, Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, the Emperor of Brazil Don Pedro and the Grand Dukes of Russia came to Monte-Carlo, all rivalling in luxury and magnificence.
At this time, Escoffier’s menus were often created in homage to the great ladies of this society: Réjane salad, Rachel Mignonnettes of quail, Pears Mary Garden, Poularde Adelina Patti, Coupe Yvette, Strawberries Sarah Bernhardt, Peach Melba...
This period would last seven years, until April 1890 when Ritz took over the “Savoy Hotel” in London, which had opened a year earlier. He entrusted the running of the kitchens and restaurant to Escoffier. They remained there until 1897 and made this Hotel the most sumptuous in Europe, frequented by a rich and royal clientele.