R.I.P.: Marcel Escoffier

I was sad to learn that Professor Marcel Escoffier passed away last Tuesday. Escoffier was associate professor of Management at Florida International University's School of Hospitality Management. He taught courses in Food and Beverage Operations and Control, and wrote several books, including co-authoring the influential Management by Menu text. He was also quite a good chef. But Marcel was really known more for his kindness and generous spirit, and of course for being the grand nephew to George Auguste Escoffier: One of the great French chefs and author of Le Guide Culinaire, arguably the most influential cookbook of the 20th century.

I had met Marcel and his wife Shirley at the Miami Book Fair two years ago. We were sitting together at a table in the author's waiting room, and he told me stories that I'm sure he's told many a time; tales about traveling through France and the reactions he'd get from people when they saw his name -- especially when making restaurant reservations. His great uncle, after all, was known as "the king of chefs and chef of kings". In short, Marcel and his wife were served great cuisine by chefs who wanted to impress an Escoffier, and they received quite excellent service. And the ironic thing is that, despite his homonym and deep knowledge of cuisine, Marcel was like your typical down to earth American guy. He didn't even speak French.

So we won't say au revoir, Marcel, but rather good-bye.


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