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The words Dublin or Ireland do not immediately come to mind when haute cuisine is mentioned. However, two leading French chefs, the brothers Francois and Michel Jammet, opened a restaurant in Dublin in 1901 which, up until its closure in 1967, remained one of the best restaurants serving haute cuisine in the world (Mac Con Iomaire 2005a; Mac Con Iomaire 2006). Haute cuisine was served in many Dublin hotels, clubs and restaurants during the twentieth century and came under similar influences as London and other European cities, moving from the Escoffier orthodoxy to the influence of nouvelle cuisine. This research reveals that French haute cuisine was widely available in Dublin hotels and restaurants from the late nineteenth century. German and Austrian chefs and waiters were widely employed in Dublin until the First World War, after which, Swiss chefs became more prevalent. Dublin restaurants enjoyed increased business during the ‘Emergency’ as gastro-tourists and army officers came to Dublin from England and Northern Ireland to dine. Restaurant Jammet during the years of WWII was reported to produce ‘the finest French cooking from the fall of France to the liberation of Paris’ (Ryan 1987). In 1949, another French chef, Pierre Rolland, arrived in Dublin as chef de cuisine of the Russell Hotel and the restaurant under his leadership also became world renowned for haute cuisine (Mac Con Iomaire 2004b). Dublin restaurants serving haute cuisine enjoyed a ‘golden age’ in the two decades that followed the Second World War. The kitchens and dining rooms of the Russell and Royal Hibernian Hotels became nurseries for young Irish chefs and waiters who gradually replaced the Continental head chefs and waiters and became the culinary leaders in the 1970s. When the Egon Ronay Guide covered Ireland for the first time in 1963, the Russell was awarded three stars – the highest possible accolade. It was described as ‘one of the best restaurants in Europe’ in the 1964 guide and by 1965 the entry for the Russell Hotel Restaurant read ‘words fail us in describing the brilliance of the cuisine at this elegant and luxurious restaurant which must rank amongst the best in the world’ (Egon-Ronay 1965:464). The Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland was first published in 1974, awarding one star to the Russell Hotel which also closed in 1974. Haute cuisine moved from the restaurants of Dublin to the country house hotels during the 1970s and 1980s. The next Michelin star was not awarded in Dublin until 1989, to another French chef / restaurateur, Patrick Guilbaud. By 2001 there were two Dublin restaurants awarded two Michelin stars each, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, and Thornton’s, run by an Irish chef Kevin Thornton. Another Irish chef, Conrad Gallagher, was awarded one Michelin star in his restaurant Peacock Alley in 2001, and seven other Dublin restaurants were also awarded Red ‘M’s in 2001, symbolising good food and a reasonable price. This thesis is presented in three volumes. Volume I presents a broad review of the literature concerning the emergence of haute cuisine in a European context from Ancient Greece and Rome up to 21st century England and France, which acts as a historic backcloth against which the developments in Ireland can be seen. Ireland’s culinary history is reviewed in part one of Volume II, focusing particularly on the growth of public urban dining locations from taverns, coffee houses, clubs, chop houses to the emergence of the first French restaurant in Dublin in 1860. The main body of Volume II offers a chronology of how restaurants developed in Dublin from 1900 to 2000. Using a combination of documentary evidence, archival sources, material culture and oral histories, this volume attempts to establish the influence French haute cuisine had on this development. Sources will be critically analysed and compared with the findings of Volume I. Finally, the findings are assessed, conclusions are drawn and results are offered for consideration. The growth of restaurants in Dublin during the twentieth century is divided into four phases: Phase One: Dublin Restaurants (1900-1922) The Last Years of Imperial Rule Phase Two: Dublin Restaurants (1922-1946) From Independence to post-Emergency Phase Three: Dublin Restaurants (1947-1974) The Golden Age of Haute Cuisine Phase Four: Dublin Restaurants (1974-2002) Decline, Stagnation and Resurgence Volume III presents over 40 transcribed life history interviews with chefs, waiters, restaurateurs and discerning diners, from which much of the information for this research derives. This volume acts both as a reference to the themes discussed in Volume II and as a repository of life histories and material culture as a resource to future scholars of culinary history, social history and folklore.
Mac Con Iomaire, M. (2009). The emergence, development and influence of French haute cuisine on public dining in Dublin restaurants 1900-2000:an oral history. Doctoral thesis. Dublin Institute of Technology. doi:10.21427/D79K7H