Undoubtedly it was the French and Italians that dominated cooking and cookery writing during the Georgian and early to mid Victorian era. Despite dying in his late forties. Marie-Antoine Carême was one of the first widely recognised celebrity chefs and the most prolific recipe writer. He also trained many of the great cooks of his age. He was one of the first to combine flavours, rather than just using herbs and spices to mask bad food and perfected the technique later known as ‘Grande Cuisine’ or Haute Cuisine, where dishes were made to look as beautiful and lavish as possible. He spent a brief period in London working for a young George IV and had a tremendous influence on society. Similar big names of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries included Louis Eustache Ude, Charles Francatelli and Alexis Soyer. The most prolific female cookery writer of the Georgian age was Hannah Glasse. She died destitute and penniless and was never truly accepted in society as a legitimate gastronome. It must also be reiterated like many others of her generation she plagiarized most of her work. Where she did find success was through her ability to appeal to the mass market of rising middle classes who were attracted to her simple style and approach to communicating recipes.
William Kitchiner, the teacher trainer Edward Kidder, Confectioner William Jarrin, the Gunter family, Cadbury, Terry and Fry families are just some of the other names associated with great Georgian culinary entrepreneurship and you can read about them all in Dining With The Georgians or the paperback Georgian Kitchen.
Many of the big name chefs of the century before who were attached to royal households or wealthy estates moved into the clubs, hotels and early restaurants of the Victorian period and it was women who began to dominate the kitchens of the large country and town houses. More women were inventing, writing and teaching cookery and the language of the kitchen. Heroines of the Victorian age include women like Eliza Acton and Agnes Bertha Marshall (see recipe pages) and Margaret Eleanor Pillow who became the first and only (for the period) female sanitary inspector in the UK. She co-authored the manual Domestic Economy:Comprising the Laws of Health in their Application to Home Life and Work in 1897 and lectured prolifically on this subject and the theory of cooking nationwide. In terms of the most high profile we must not of course overlook Isabella Beeton, whose work has become synonymous with the Victorian culinary dialogue despite its weaknesses.
The two biggest names of the Victorian and Edwardian public Dining scene were Auguste Escoffier and Cesar Ritz a partnership you can read more about in Dining With The Victorians.