The “king of chefs” and Peach Melba
The tall chef’s hat is called a “toque.” During the 16th and 17th centuries, toques came in all shapes: berets, stocking caps, and even pointed hats with tassels. During the 18th century the tall hat came into use to show order of importance among the kitchen staff.
One of the greatest chefs is Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935). He started working in his uncle’s restaurant at age 14 and went on to work in the world most famous hotels. Recognised as the “king of chefs and the chef of kings.” During a visit to Paris, William II of Germany is said to have remarked to him: “I am the emperor of Germany, but you are the emperor of chefs.”
Escoffier’s most famous recipe was Peach Melba, created for Australian opera star Nellie Melba (1861-1931) when she was staying at the Savoy in 1893. Dame Melba also liked her toast made in the way that today bears her name: Melba toast.