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The Culinarians

Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining

He presided over Virginia’s great political barbeques for the last half of the nineteenth century, taught the young Prince of Wales to crave mint juleps in 1859, catered to Virginia’s mountain spas, and fed two generations of Richmond epicures with terrapin and turkey.
This fascinating culinarian is John Dabney (1821–1900), who was born a slave, but later built an enterprising catering business. Dabney is just one of 175 influential cooks and restaurateurs profiled by David S. Shields in The Culinarians, a beautifully produced encyclopedic history of the rise of professional cooking in America from the early republic to Prohibition.
Shields’s concise biographies include the legendary Julien, founder in 1793 of America’s first restaurant, Boston’s Restorator; and Louis Diat and Oscar of the Waldorf, the men most responsible for keeping the ideal of fine dining alive between the World Wars. Though many of the gastronomic pioneers gathered here are less well known, their diverse influence on American dining should not be overlooked—plus, their stories are truly entertaining. We meet an African American oyster dealer who became the Congressional caterer, and, thus, a powerful broker of political patronage; a French chef who was a culinary savant of vegetables and drove the rise of California cuisine in the 1870s; and a rotund Philadelphia confectioner who prevailed in a culinary contest with a rival in New York by staging what many believed to be the greatest American meal of the nineteenth century. He later grew wealthy selling ice cream to the masses. Shields also introduces us to a French chef who brought haute cuisine to wealthy prospectors and a black restaurateur who hosted a reconciliation dinner for black and white citizens at the close of the Civil War in Charleston.
Altogether, Culinarians is a delightful compendium of charcuterie-makers, pastry-pipers, caterers, railroad chefs, and cooking school matrons—not to mention drunks, temperance converts, and gangsters—who all had a hand in creating the first age of American fine dining and its legacy of conviviality and innovation that continues today.

560 pages | 16 color plates, 91 halftones, 10 line drawings | 7 x 10 | © 2017

Biography and Letters

Food and Gastronomy

History: American History


The Culinarians is well researched, highly original, and well written. It is a tremendous resource for general readers and a must-read for those interested in American food history. And it’s an enjoyable read!”

Andrew F. Smith, editor-in-chief, Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink

“Once again, Shields adds another critical volume to the American cannon of food scholarship with this first ever history of the nation’s foundational ‘culinarians’—the chefs, caterers, and restauranteurs who made cooking an art long before ‘celebrity’ and ‘chef’ became a phrase in popular culture. This compelling selection of exhaustively researched biographical profiles reveals a multi-layered American cuisine grounded in labor, economic smarts, creativity, and skill that speaks of a nation inextricably shaped by race, class, gender, ethnicity, and region.”  

Marcie Cohen Ferris, author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region

"The Culinarians is more than a collection of biographies. It is a celebration of lost voices--cooks, creators, and visionaries who paved the way for the food we eat today. With this book, Shields pulls back the curtain of modern cuisine in America to reveal a story we forgot existed."

Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and author of The Third Plate

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader

The First Era, 1790 to 1835: The Restaurant, the Coffeehouse, and the Oyster Cellar
“Julien” (Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat)
Othello Pollard
Stephen Simonet
Ann Poppleton
James Prosser
William Sykes
Frederic Rouillard
Joseph Boulanger
Eliza Leslie
William Niblo
William Walker
Thomas Downing
Alexander “Sandy” Welsh
John Weller
Joseph Letourno
Edward Windust and Sarah E. Windust
Eliza Seymour Lee
Isaiah Le Count
John Wright
Harvey D. Parker
Lucretia Bourquin
Robert Manners
Lorenzo Delmonico
Victor LeFort
Lucien Boudro

The Second Era, 1835 to 1865: The Great Hotel, the Saloon, and the Black Caterer
Louis Galabran
Edward Marchand
Miguel Brisolara
Nat Fuller
Charles Gautier
Victor Martin
Antoine Alciatore
John Galpin
Cary B. Moon
Joshua B. Smith
Sam Ward
Baptiste Moreau
Balthazar Roth
James Augustin
Orra A. Taft
Walter H. Van Rensselaer
David Canter
James Wood Parkinson
Antonio Sivori
James P. M. Stetson
Charles Ignatius Pfaff
Henry Jakes II
Frozine Madrid
François-Winceslas Pelletier
Louis Schultz
Pierre Trapet
James Wormley
Pierre Blot
John Dabney
August Louis Sieghortner
Gustave Feraud
James H. W. Huckins
William Vollmer
Augustin François Anezin
George M. Ardoene
Emanuel Pierre Bret
Fritz Huppenbauer
John Burroughs Drake
Jean-Georges Torrilhon
John A. Gray Sr.
John Ludin
George Speck Crum
Louisa Drouilhat
John Gaston
Joseph Baptiste Peyroux
Thomas R. Tully
Anthony Astredo
George T. Downing
Emile Gerot
Mohican Hill
Lew Boman

The Third Era, 1865 to 1885: The French Hegemony and the Nationalist Reaction
Jules Arthur Harder
Elizabeth Kettenring Bégué
Francesco Martinelli
John Michels
Lexius Henson
George E. Johnston
Dominico Paretti
Felix J. Déliée
Edward Schelcher
Nunzio Finelli
Jessup Whitehead
Fred Harvey
Eugene Laperruque
Nellie Murray
Wong Ah Cheok
Anthony Edward Faust
Sophie Dorn Flêche (Madame Eugène)
Henri Mouquin
Charles Ranhofer
Francis J. Kinzler
Gustave “Gus” Jaubert
Eugene Mehl
John W. Conway
Victor Dol
Magdalena “Lena” Frey Fabacher
George W. Harvey
Emeline Jones
Frederic Mergenthaler
Agnes Moody
Joseph Seyl
Auguste Valadon
Fernand Fere
Maria Parloa

The Gilded Age, 1885 to 1919: Fame and the Master Chef
Charles E. Rector
Edward Charbulak
Louis Charles Fleury Lallouette
Louise Volkmann
Frank Xavier Mivelaz and Louis L. Mivelaz
Gustav Nouvel
Benjamin Franklin Sims
William G. Barron
Joseph Pio Campazzi
“Harry” Lee King
Jeanne Marie Buisson Esparbe
Alessandro Filippini
Louis F. Mazzetti
Sarah Tyson Rorer
Jules Chatain
Emil Hederer
Urban Sobra
Adrien Tenu
Valere Braquehais
Jean Roth
Charles Henry Smiley
Frederick Compagnon
Jose Gestal
Jules Weber
Paul Gilardoni
Augustino G. Ferera
Louis Sherry
Jean Galatoire
August Lüchow
Rufus Estes
Prosper Grevillot
Pierre Borel
Xenophon Kuzmier
François Sartre
Betty Lyles Wilson
Charles Crist Delmonico
J. Valentine Seitz
Leon Surdez
Fernand Alciatore Sr.
Gustave F. M. Beraud
Joseph Coppa
Jules Louis Alciatore
Mary Anastasia Wilson
Herman J. Berghaus
Louis C. Billote
Adrian Delvaux
Oscar Tschirky
John Young
Emile Bailly
Eugene Habisreutinger
Jose Sanroman
Henry C. Dousseau
Pierre Buisson
Henri D. Fouilloux
Walter George
Jacques Lescarboura
Lee Chit
Emile Burgermeister
Der Doo
Victor Hirtzler
Louis Calixte Lalanne
Jules Dauviller
Emil C. Altorfer
Edouard Panchard
Louis Paquet
Louis Diat



Culinary Institute of America: Association for the Study of Food and Society Book Award

The James Beard Foundation: James Beard Book Awards

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