The story of French chef Alex Soyer (1810-1858), one of the most celebrated cooks in Victorian England, who tried to alleviate the suffering of the Irish poor during the Famine by setting up soup kitchens and teaching them how to eat cheaply
He was involved with charity work as well as being a popular figure on the culinary circuit, chef de cuisine of the Reform Club and author of many cookery books. During the potato famine of 1847 he went to Ireland to help victims by setting up soup kitchens - he claimed he could provide 100 gallons of soup for £1 including expenses.
Like high-profile chefs today he was often asked to cook for large numbers at prestigious events and in June 1838 rose to the challenge of cooking breakfast for 2,000 people for Queen Victoria's coronation. He designed the Reform Club's kitchens, installing advanced technology such as gas ovens.
After his mercy mission to Ireland, he risked his life travelling to the Russian Peninsula to sort out catering for troops in the Crimean war, which saved thousands of soldiers from malnutrition. He invented the clever campaign stove - so small that soldiers were able to carry it on their backs and set it up in the trenches to steam, boil and bake food without sending up clouds of smoke alerting the enemy to their presence.
Produced by Donal Flanagan
Presented by Andy O'Mahony
First broadcast 11th January 1978
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