I came across Perrin by complete accident and I know very little about her but I was instantly fascinated by her project and I thought I’d share it with you.
Perrin has written a book called: Dining out: a history of the restaurant in New Zealand. The book is about to be published and you can pre-order it here
We are going to post a few excerpts of the book here on the CityandOut ShhOuts until it’s available on the shelves. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
“The latter half of the nineteenth century was a ‘Golden Age’ of glittering grand hotels and lavish restaurants, where service, food and décor were not limited so much by cost, or even taste, but by imagination and ostentation. In England, King Edward VII dined out regularly, usually at the Savoy run by César Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier — in such a ‘devoutly monarchical age’ high society eagerly followed the King’s lead. In America, restaurant-goers created staged finery. Women wearing the long, sweeping dresses typical of the late nineteenth century would find themselves ‘swanning’ down majestic sets of stairs in order to reach their tables. Capitalists grown wealthy through trade sought out restaurants in order to display newly learned society skills. Restaurateurs engineered glorious and fantastic dining extravaganzas that were gustatory paeans to the ostentation of the diner. The world grew smaller through increased communication and easier transportation and chefs could easily access foods from all over the world. New Zealand lamb, cheese and butter (because of refrigerated shipping) were available in English and American larders.
Restaurants not only developed along with society but they reflected the changes in fashion brought about by immense prosperity. Décor reflected the growing fascination with new technological developments, with restaurants among the earliest places to feature elevators powered by hydraulics, as well as air conditioning, steam ovens and electric lighting. From a cuisine angle, it was a new age that featured a new type of chef. Son of a blacksmith, apprenticed at thirteen to his uncle a chef followed by a stint in the military, Georges Auguste Escoffier came to fame at the Le Petit Moulin Rouge before helping to establish the Savoy with César Ritz and Louis Échenard. Escoffier fed society’s hunger for novelty and spent many sleepless nights dreaming up magnificent new culinary creations such as Peach Melba and Tournedos Rossini. Escoffier not only revolutionised how one ran a kitchen by implementing the ‘partie’ system (where chefs now concentrated on elements of a dish, rather than a dish as a whole) but encouraged a revolution in the dining room by implementing a new style of service, ‘service à la Russe’ (a series of dishes served in succession). Such changes affected how restaurants operated both overseas and in New Zealand.”