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The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer Hardcover – September 19, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (September 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374316651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374316655
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.4 x 12.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In an ambitious and successful authorial debut, Arnold (Fanny at Chez Panisse) further explores the culinary arts this time through biography. Her brilliant but little-known subject, Frenchman Alexis Soyer (1809-1858), rose quickly from child prankster to lowly apprentice to chef de cuisine at London's new Reform Club. There he helped to design a kitchen so innovative that it became a tourist attraction. In clever shorthand, Arnold provides a fascinating cutaway drawing of the kitchen that also reveals the toilsome process of 19th-century cooking. Soyer went on to invent labor-saving cooking devices and methods to help feed large numbers of Britain's impoverished as well as its soldiers. Arnold artfully weaves delicate, lively pen-and-watercolor spot illustrations in and out of the text to convey a substantial amount of historical information. For instance, she uses before-and-after vignettes to convey Soyer's contributions to military cooking ("Before Soyer: The meat was lashed tightly in bundles. The outer parts were boiled to shreds; the inner parts remained raw. After Soyer: Soyer had the joints of meat hung separately so that they could cook evenly and be ready at the same time"). Captions curve and flow between the scenes, moving the eye forward. Aspiring historians, budding chefs and gourmet parents will devour every scrap of information about this remarkable man. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5-An engaging picture-book biography of a 19th-century chef/inventor/cookbook author. At the suggestion of his brother, the "head cook in an aristocratic English household," Soyer moved from France to England when he was in his 20s and worked for noblemen. He went on to establish a soup kitchen in Ireland during the potato famine and worked with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, when he improved hospital kitchens in Scutari, Turkey. The writing is simple and straightforward, with touches of wry humor throughout, and the graceful watercolors add mood, detail, and a sense of time and place. This story of a remarkable life set in remarkable times does a wonderful job of bringing the past to life.
Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Newbery on November 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My son and I loved this book. For people who want something more than
the bland products of children's book publishing in the Corporate
Age---*this is it*. It's a leap into history (London of the
mid-nineteenth century, the Crimean War, the Irish potato
famine---even a glimpse of Florence Nightingale...) through one of the
great kitchens of all time: that of the Reform Club in London. There's
a sumptuous two-page spread of this amazing kitchen, which was full of
Soyer's ideas and inventions, and was something of a tourist attraction
in its time. The illustrations are irresistible in beautifully
detailed and luminous watercolors. And the landscapes---scenes of
London, of Balaclava harbor---and period costumes are just as
gorgeously depicted as the spectacular feasts and banquets! A *must
have* for anyone who loves children's picture books...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. McDaniel on January 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Somehow I thought this book would be for adults. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to be a picture book written at a child's level. What a disappointment. I had expected to learn about the life of the man that "inspired" Pie in the Sky.
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By girlpolish on March 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Picked this up because I loved her illustrations for the Alice Waters children's book. What a wonderful story! I couldn't believe how much I learned and how pleasant it was to look at. I loved every page. I think it would make a great gift for cooking-interested adults and older children, maybe age 9?
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By Bill Cote on September 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful. We have bought six of them to give to friends as gifts.
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