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For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

Ritz And Escoffier – A Book Review

Ritz and Escoffier

Thanks to a brilliant recommendation from frugal first, not so long ago we enjoyed High Tea at the Ritz Paris Hotel.

Visiting the Ritz Paris has long been on my must do list, and the experience was well worth the wait. Of course, the elegant afternoon tea was everything you’d expect it to be. Delicious, perfectly brewed tea. An extremely generous amount of sweet treats. All delivered with attentive, personalised service.

It probably goes without saying that we also took the chance to explore the public areas of the fabled hotel. I certainly wasn’t going to miss the exceptional people watching opportunity the visit offered. It really was a special way to spend a few hours.

This one little visit definitely sparked my curiosity about the hotel that has attracted so much attention over the years. Aside from deciding to save my pennies for a (hopefully longer) return visit, I’ve also become quite intrigued by the history of the Ritz Paris. As a result, I’ve been reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about the legendary hotel in the heart of Paris.

One of the first books I came across – Luke Barr’s Ritz and Escoffier, provided he perfect starting point for my deep dive into the history of the hotel. Due to the fact that my day job has been requiring a fair bit of car travel lately, I opted to go with the audiobook version so I could listen and learn while I was driving – but the book is available in both print and e-book formats as well.

Title: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, And The Rise Of The Leisure Class 

Author: Luke Barr

Published: 2018 by Penguin Random House. Audio Book

What I Liked:

  • The scope of the book. Coco Chanel is often credited as saying that elegance is refusal. And when it comes to books where the topic could span over a century, knowing what not to include becomes incredibly important. This particular book keeps its focus firmly on César Ritz, Auguste Escoffier and the events that led to the designing, opening and initial success of the Ritz Paris and the other hotels they were instrumental in establishing. And while many of the colourful characters of the age make cameo appearances in the book – and Barr could easily have become distracted by stories of those famous guests – he does well to keep his writing strictly on Ritz and Escoffier. (If you are keen to read about the famous guests of the hotel, then I’d recommend Tilar J. Mazzeo’s The Hotel on Place Vendôme.)
  • Luke Barr has a fabulous conversational style to his writing. It made Ritz and Escoffier so easy to listen to. But I think this style would also be pleasant to read. It was such a beautifully crafted piece of work – I was instantly swept into a world that combined both glamour and hard work. And I enjoyed it so much, I was seriously disappointed when the book ended.
  • The cover art. Ok. So this probably is a funny feature for someone who listened to the audio book to call out. But I like the book’s cover designed so much, I’m still toying with buying a printed version of the book so I can use it as a decorator item.

What I Wasn’t So Sure About:

  • There is no doubt about it. Escoffier’s menus were integral to the initial success of both the Ritz Paris and London’s Savoy Hotel (where Ritz and Escoffier worked prior to the opening of the Ritz Paris). And initially I was quite interested to hear of the exotic dishes Escoffier prepared for his wealthy diners. But after a while listening to the long list of dishes (that often included everything from turtle to watermelon) just became a little tedious.

Have you read Ritz and Escoffier? Were you as fascinated by it as I was? And are you a fan of the Paris Ritz? Please take a minute to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


Please note: This is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from Luke Barr or the associated publishers of Ritz and Escoffier.

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