A brief history of fine dining

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Antoine Beauviller

The first recognised restaurant can be traced back to the 18th Century and the French Revolution. In 1765, A. Boulanger, a soup vendor, hung a sign over his business, which offered a choice of soups and broths for health. The name of his shop was ‘restorative’ or restaurant.

In 1782, the rst luxury restaurant, ‘La Grande Taverne de Loudres’, opened its doors in Paris. Owned by Antoine Beauvillers , this innovative restauranteur combined for essential principles – superior cooking - an elegant room – smart waiters and a cellar of wine. Beauvillers is also credited in introducing the first Maitre’ds, offering advice on certain dishes as well as giving diners suggestions on the perfect wine combinations.

As the Revolution gripped France during the late 18th century, the falling of the aristocracy – who would generally dine in the privacy of their estates, employing some of the best chefs in the country – meant that many chefs and cooks were unemployed. Those that escaped the guillotine, either started their own restaurants or started working for restaurants. In 1804, only a few short decades after the disruption, Paris itself had 500 restaurants.

Although the middle classes, and the falling aristocracy, could no longer afford their own chef and waiting staff, they still pined for the dining experience that they had been used to. Some clever entrepreneurs set up some Fine Dining restaurants to allow this emerging class to fulfil their fantasies. Offering the four principles that Antoine Beauvillers had established 30 years earlier, these aristocratic wannabees were able to dine like royalty – as frequently as their finances would permit.

As these restaurants became more popular, chefs became household names and their popularity grew. Restaurants were able to improve the dining experience by bringing in fine china and cutlery, and tablecloths - offering reservations. All these aspects are now synonymous with modern day fine dining.

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