The French Cook

 Published in Philadelphia in 1828, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection is the first French cookbook published in the United States, and it was written in English by a French chef who cooked at the court of Louis XVI in France and for the Earl of Sefton and the Duke of York in England.

Lady Chesterfield called Louis Eustache Ude “whimsical, good-natured, exorbitantly vain,” but he must have been a spectacularly gifted chef, able to please the most sophisticated upper-class palates of the day. As expressed in his cookbook, originally published in 1813, when Ude was cooking for the Earl of Sefton in Liverpool (whose service he left when the Earl’s son put salt in one of Ude’s soups), his recipes definitely were not meant for everyday meals, but they do represent the epitome of classic French cuisine and food service. The book is peppered liberally with French terms (vocabulary provided) and with elaborate techniques that must have been in use in the most elegant kitchens (but not necessarily beyond the reach of less elite cooks). The word soufflé first appeared in English in Ude’s cookbook. Along with hundreds of classic recipes, the book includes precise table settings for each course of a meal and presents the bill of fare for dinners of four, six, and eight entrees serving from eight to twenty-four persons.


This edition of The French Cook was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the society is a research library documenting the lives of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection comprises approximately 1,100 volumes.

About the Author

Born in 1769, Ude cooked for royalty for most of his life. His father worked in the kitchens of Louis XVI, and he secured a job for Louis as an apprentice sous-chef there as well. Louis hadn’t quite developed his interest in cooking, so he took a series of other jobs (printer, jeweler, casino employee) before returning to his original vocation as maître d’hotel for Napoleon’s mother Princess Maria Letizia Bonaparte. Two years later he left France for England, where he spent the rest of his career. He first worked for William Molyneux, second Earl of Sefton, a renowned epicure who also loved hunting, coursing, steeple-chasing, and gambling. During his twenty years with the Earl, Ude wrote his classic The French Cook, and when the Earl died, he left Ude 100 guineas a year in his will. He then went to work for the Duke of York, and upon his death, was hired as the first chef de cuisine at the newly opened Crockford’s gambling club, which is still in operation today under the name Fifty.

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