a deep dive into the start of hospitality

When the Savoy Hotel opened in London in the late 1800s, it quickly rose to fame as the most luxurious experience in the world. Well known hotelier Cesar Ritz was hand-chosen for his attention to detail and his devotion to his guests to run this largest and most opulent hotel by financier Richard D’Oyly Carte. And Ritz then hand chose the finest chef he knew to accompany him, Auguste Escoffier.

Ritz ran an impeccable hotel, and Escoffier ran the most organized, professional kitchen that existed at that time. In fact, you can still go into any luxury hotel and see the details of perfection that were handed down from Ritz, and you can go into any modern professional kitchen and see the imprint of Escoffier’s pristine attention to detail and organization. Their ideas birthed an industry and brought a level of luxury to the middle class that most people had never been able to experience before.

Luke Barr, author of Provence, 1970, is back with another flawlessly researched book that takes a look at a moment in history that changed everything that came after. In Provence, 1970, he showed how American cuisine came to be, and Ritz and Escoffier shows how two men taught us all how to live our best lives, lives where the details make the difference between an average experience and one that make us feel like royalty.

With stories of history and scandal, royalty and wannabes, romance and betrayal, Ritz and Escoffier shines a light on a time in history where decadence became a lifestyle and modern luxury became a tangible reality for almost anyone. The pages of this book are filled with lavish dinner parties, rumors of love affairs, scandalous spending, backstabbing, double-crossing, stealing, egotism, entitlement, lawsuits and disgrace.

A fascinating look at a unique time in history, Ritz and Escoffier takes you back in time and shows you all the hard work that goes into the extravagance of the hospitality industry from the opening of a hotel to running it like clockwork through all the surprises and challenges that come up during its operation. Luke Barr’s exquisite prose, audiobook melodically narrated by Stephen Rudnicki, brings the city and the time and the hotel to life in a way that makes you feel like you can see the flowers right in front of you and smell the amazing aromas of Escoffier’s kitchen. I know that I will never see the hotel industry the same way.

Galleys for Ritz and Escoffier were provided by Crown Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks, but I bought the audiobook myself, thanks to Audible.