The flamboyant Frenchman Alexis Soyer was the most renowned chef in Victorian England. This is his colourful account of his time at the front in the Crimean War, where he joined British troops in order to improve the quality of the food they were eating. Divulging the secrets of preparing stew for 1000 soldiers, sharing sweetmeats with a Turkish Pacha, and teaching a Highland regiment to cook with his pioneering gas-fuelled 'field stove' that would be used by armies up until the Second World War, Soyer gives a vividly enjoyable lesson in making a little go a long way.
Born in France, Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) is a celebrated chef and kitchen innovator. He became the first chef at the Reform Club, London where he instituted many innovations in the Club kitchens, including cooking with gas, using refrigerators cooled by cold water and ovens with adjustable temperatures. His kitchens were so famous, they were opened for tours and his 'Lamb Cutlets Reform' still feature on the menu at the Club today. Later on in his life, Soyer campaigned for better food, setting up soup kitchens in Ireland during the potato famine and offering his services to British soldiers during the Crimean War, training chefs, organising provisions and using his own invention, the Soyer stove (a portable stove) in the field to cater for troops.