Food For Thought: First Celebrity Chef

Indulge in this White Chocolate and Raspberry Mille-feuille recipe made famous by Marie-Antoine Carême, the first celebrity chef.

Abandoned as a child during the French Revolution, Marie-Antoine Carême would go on to be one of the most influential chefs in history and is now dubbed the ‘first celebrity chef’. Antoine, as he was called, due to the fact he was given a girl’s name at birth, came from very humble beginnings and hardship, rumoured to be one of 25 children. Alone on the streets of Paris in 1794, he found refuge in the very basic Fricassée de Lapin, a tavern in Paris at the time. In exchange for food and board he washed pans but would soon progress to commence an apprenticeship. The revolution would eventually end and Antoine found himself under the watchful eye of Sylvain Bailly, a famous Parisian pastry chef. Antoine was encouraged to learn to read and write and he started to appreciate architecture. This would lead to one the most influential periods in cooking. Antoine would create elaborate masterpieces, completely constructed from food, often several feet high. News travelled fast and he was commissioned to work for Russian Emperors, Kings, Queens and everyone in between. Today, cooking has never been more popular and the influence of the modern day celebrity chef has never been greater. Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander and Elizabeth David, if we go abroad, are who I consider to be modern day food idols. Their influence on the way we eat, cook and source our food has been extraordinary but I have to wonder if we will ever see a food revolution like the one Antoine brought to the 19th century. Marie-Antoine Carême left this world at 49, leaving behind numerous published books, the chef hat, Napoleon (Mille Feuille), béchamel and the famous Charlotte cake. The title of the ‘first celebrity chef’ was well deserved and his influence on food and the way we cook is still evident today. Somehow I doubt that today’s ‘celebrity chefs’ will leave a legacy as great!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Mille-feuille Recipe

Serves 6 Ingredients • 3 Sheets puff pastry • 70g Frozen raspberries – defrosted • Icing sugar for dusting • 150ml Cream • 1 Vanilla pod • 1 Gold gelatin leaf (2g) • 100g White cooking chocolate • 200ml Chilled cream Method 1. Preheat oven to 180C 2. Using a ruler, cut 18 identical rectangles or desired shapes from the puff pastry sheets (I like 4cm x 2cm). 3. Place the puff pastry in between two baking trays lined with baking paper. 4. Bake in a 180 degree preheated oven until golden and cooked all the way through, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. 5. Place the cooled pastry back onto a baking tray and dust with icing sugar, completely covering the surface. 6. Return to the oven. Cook until the icing sugar has dissolved and glazed the top of the puff pastry. 7. Heat 150ml of cream with a vanilla pod and bring to the boil. 8. Remove from the heat and leave to sit for two minutes. 9. Soak the gelatin leaf in room temperature water until soft. 10. Stir the gelatin leaf into the warm cream until completely dissolved. 11. Pour the hot cream mixture over the white chocolate and stir until completely melted. Leave to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. 12. Add the chilled cream to the chocolate and place in the fridge for at least an hour. 13. Remove from the fridge and whisk vigorously until medium peaks form. 14. Fold through the frozen raspberries and return to the fridge until needed. 15. Pipe the white chocolate mousse onto 12 puff pastry rectangles. 16. Place one on top of each other, giving you six two-story pastry bases. 17. Finish with a puff pastry lid. @annabelleats

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