The Auguste Escoffier Foundation, a recognized public utility, is the result of the desire of a few men to perpetuate the memory and work of Auguste Escoffier.
It has been given three essential roles:
Coordinate and enrich the collections at the Escoffier Museum of Culinary Art in order to spread the history of gastronomy.
Organize improvement training courses in order to maintain a high level of knowledge in Chefs in France and abroad.
Play a role in both historical and applied research. To this end, the Foundation organizes meetings and colloquia with specialists from all disciplines of interest to gastronomy. The Research Centre library is devoted to cuisine and the related arts. It is open to all researchers by appointment.
The Foundation’s Board:
Michel Escoffier - Chairman
Michel Escoffier, the Master’s great-grandson, has held the position of chairman since 2008.
It was during his many business trips abroad that he became aware of his great-grandfather’s fame in the hospitality industry. Simply mentioning his name incites emotion and respect in the kitchen. It was then that he began to increase his knowledge about his great-grandfather and became impassioned about this. In 1985, with his father, he published the Souvenirs Inédits d'Auguste Escoffier, later translated by his wife under the title Auguste Escoffier, Memories of my Life in 1996. The latter also allowed for the publication of Trésors Culinaires de la France, compiling articles written by Auguste Escoffier in the Carnet d’Épicure magazine, which he created in London in 1910 to promote tourism in France amongst the English.
Michel Escoffier is also a member of the advisory board for two “Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts" in the United States (in Austin, Texas and Boulder, Colorado).
Christian Heuline - General Secretary
Former student of the Jean Drouant Hotel School in Paris, he obtained a professional Bachelor and a BTS in management. He joined Air Maxims International and began his career in concession catering. After two years experience in hotel catering for Air France, he joined the Wagons Lits group and then Accor and managed the catering activities at Orly Sud and Nice airports. From 1998 to 2005, he managed the catering activities of the two terminals in Nice, air catering, private aviation in Nice and Cannes, duty free shops and the Acropolis Convention Centre. In 2005, the Elior group asked him to take over the General Management of its activities in the Indian Ocean, a position he held until 2016.
Disciple Escoffier since 2000, he joined the Foundation's Board of Directors in 2019 and became General Secretary of the Foundation and of the Disciples Escoffier International association in 2021.
Richard Duvauchelle - Curator
A former pupil of the Hospitality School in Paris in 1964, he obtained a CAP in Cuisine, a BTH (French hospitality qualification equivalent to a Baccalaureate) and then won the best French hospitality school pupils' pastry chef competition in 1967. He later perfected his professional experience by obtaining a Master 2 diploma in Management from the Sorbonne. He took over running several luxury hotels over the course of nearly 35 years (“Martinez”, “Noga Hilton” Cannes, etc.). In particular, it was as the Manager of the “Hotel Martinez” that at the time hosted the Joseph Donon Institute training courses, that he met the Foundation’s members. He joined the Board of Directors in 2015 before being appointed to the position of Curator in 2016.
Jean-Pierre Hall - Treasurer
After studying economics in Switzerland and England (LSE), he joined the Groupe Concorde in Paris within the “Lafayette” and the “Lutécia” before joining Richard Duvauchelle at “Nova Park Elysées". He completed his education with a Management diploma from Cornell/Essec in Cergy.
For most of his career, he managed major hotels, including the “Byblos” in Saint Tropez, opened the “Villa Belrose” and the “Paradise Cove” on Mauritius, hotels that he would integrate into the prestigious groups “Relais & Châteaux" and “Leading Hotels of the World”.
He continued his career as a consultant in France and in Africa (Morocco & South Africa).
In 2018, Richard Duvauchelle invited him to join the Foundation’s Board of Directors and offered him the position of Treasurer.
Daniel Dorchies - Honorary General Secretary
A former pupil of the Thonon-les-Bains Hospitality School with his classmate Georges Blanc, he obtained a CAP (French vocational qualification, equivalent to an NVQ) in Cuisine, Restaurants and Hotel Employees and a Brevet (French vocational qualification, equivalent to a GNVQ) in Hospitality. He then went to England as the receptionist at the “Continental Hotel” in Plymouth, and then sailed for 11 years on the cruise liner The France, as the accommodation manager. He subsequently took over running the staff training at the Club Méditerranée in Neuilly. He played a role in creating the FAFIH (French national training insurance fund for the hospitality industry) in 1976 for the South of France section, which allowed him to form numerous relationships with chefs and main hoteliers on the Côte d’Azur. He then joined the Foundation in 1985 at the request of Raymond Armisen, as the Technical Advisor before becoming a Director and then the General Secretary in 2009.
History of the Foundation
It was recognition, his unforgettable memory and the desire to extend his work and his ethics that formed the basis of the idea and then the creation of the Foundation by a group of people who had known and loved Auguste Escoffier and worked with him in London, at the “Savoy” and the “Carlton”.
These men were notable in themselves, Joseph Donon (1899-1979), Paul Thalamas (1871-1961) and Eugène Herbodeau (1888-1981):
Paul Thalamas worked with Escoffier in London for fifteen years, before the First World War, at the “Savoy” and then at the “Carlton”. Escoffier and Ritz then appointed him as the Training manger for the teams in the hotels that the Ritz Development Company opened in Rome, Berlin, Salsomaggiore, Cairo and Frankfurt.
Eugène Herbodeau was the Chef de partie at the “Carlton” from 1912 to 1914 and returned there after the war in 1919. In 1920, he was the Chef at the “Ritz Hotel” in London; he then returned to the “Carlton” in 1928, taking the prestigious place as the Chef, a position that had been occupied by his Master.
In the 1930s, he opened his own restaurant in London, the “Écu de France”. He made this a top-rate establishment, frequented during the Second World War by the “French Overseas” to whom he rendered great service.
Thalamas and Herbodeau were Auguste Escoffier’s biographers. They published a book in London in 1956 entitled: Auguste Escoffier, the Grand master of French Cuisine. It was their spirit that inspired the great project to create a true memorial to his glory in his birthplace, and thus extend his work and ethics with regard to French Cuisine.
The patron, Joseph Donon, was spotted by Escoffier in 1906 at the Château of the Marquis and Marquess of Panisse-Passis in Villeneuve-Loubet, where he was a young commis chef. On invitation from Auguste Escoffier, the young Donon went to London to work with him. Escoffier hired him at the “Carlton” in 1907 and then sent him to New York in April 1912 as the Chef to the steel king: Henry Clay Frick. Joseph Donon remained there until 1914 and returned to France to enlist. At the end of the war he returned to the United States to rejoin his wife. He then enjoyed an extraordinary career as the Chef and steward for the Vanderbilt family. He became the promotor in the United States of French Cuisine, that of Auguste Escoffier.
When the idea of a Foundation in Auguste Escoffier’s memory was raised, he put himself forward as the patron. From 1960, he financed the transformations and layout of the house where Auguste Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubet, to create a “Museum of Culinary Art”. He also financed its operation by creating a trust, the income from which supplied the Foundation.
Eugène Herbodeau with Auguste Escoffier
The first steps:
Initially, in 1958, Paul Thalamas and Eugène Herbodeau, with the agreement of Joseph Donon, looked to peak the interest of and involve men from the trade: Louis Rampoldi, restaurant owner in Monte-Carlo and former Chef of the “Hôtel de Paris”, Jean Germa, Chairman of the Culinary Academy, Jean Ducroux, Chairman of the “Fraternelle des Cuisiniers” and Founder of the “Disciples d’Auguste Escoffier” in Nice, and the late Gaston Puget, a restaurant owner in Nice.
Their aim was to create a charity, the first step in this achievement. They caught the interest of the Mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, Doctor Lefèvre and his wife Jenny Lefèvre, Pierre Bresson, a legal advisor in Cagnes, and Raymond Armisen then the Principal at the Hospitality School in Nice. The Escoffier Foundation was officially created on 9 June 1959. It was called the “Auguste Escoffier Foundation and Museum” and its head office was at 55 Avenue Georges V in Paris.
After the death of Paul Thalamas in 1961, things were on the move.
The birth of the Museum of Culinary Art
Joseph Donon contacted the Escoffier family to tell them of his project to create a Museum devoted to Auguste Escoffier. Doctor Jean-Bernard Escoffier was won over by this proposal and gave up his rights to the largest share of the family home. Joseph Rameaux, a retired chef, agreed to take care of the internal refurbishment of the Museum. In Paris, Maître Englert, an international legal advisor, looked after Joseph Donon’s interests. He was in contact with Vincent Bourrel, then the State Prosecutor of the Auditor General’s Department, Chairman of the Club des Cent and, with Louis Vaudable, the owner of the famous “Maxim’s”.
Vincent Bourrel was the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1966 to 1981, the Chairman being Joseph Donon. He was employed to draw up the Articles of Association for a foundation with a view to “recognition as a public utility”.
The decree was published in the official bulletin on 29 November 1967. The Foundation was managed by Jeanne Neyrat-Thalamas from 1966 to 1993.
The Museum of Culinary Art was opened on 2 May 1966. Joseph Rameaux occupied the role of Curator until 1982. Maurice Panot took over from him until 1989. Pierre Bresson took over the reins in 1990, grouping the collections together and giving the Museum a new lease of life.
The Birth of the Joseph Donon Institute
Having created a Museum-Library, Vincent Bourrel and Louis Vaudable tackled professional training. In fact, one of the aims of the Foundation, expressed in the first of its Articles of Association, was (and still is) to establish in conjunction with the French Culinary Academy, a technology unique to the application of French culinary arts.
The Joseph Donon Institute, the Foundation’s professional training body, is a veritable centre for improvement, responsible for spreading French gastronomy across the entire world. It takes a direct and indirect interest in the higher professional education of chefs, and more generally anyone involved in the French culinary arts.
An ambitious school project in Villeneuve-Loubet did not bear fruit, but a niche was found in 1976 thanks to the law of 1971 on ongoing training. Training courses were organized at the Hospitality School in Nice thanks to the initiative and collaboration of its then principal, Raymond Armisen, who later became the Foundation’s Chairman from 1981 to 1997. They were then held in various hospitality schools.
In 1983, cuisine courses of a much higher level were established with an original formula: a famous Michelin star chef, different every day, gave lessons on his/her cuisine. These were held in the kitchens of the “Hôtel Martinez” in Cannes and the “Hôtel du Palais” in Biarritz. Over time, they acquired their letters patent in the profession. Paule Neyrat, the granddaughter of Paul Thalamas, took care of the organisation until 2001. The courses are currently managed by the Culinary and Educational Council.