Hotel St. Francis: Book of Recipes and Model Menus: L'Art Culinaire. By Chef Victor Hirtzler.

San Francisco: Putney Haight, Telegraph Press; Printed and Bound by the Hicks-Judd Company, 1910.

Octavo (24 x 16 cm.), [31], 67-307 pages. Advertisements. Illustration of the Hotel on page [3]. Portrait of the author in chef’s whites and smoking cap on page [6]. ~ Stated subscription issue (thus FIRST EDITION). One of the more important and influential early California professional cookbooks, marking San Francisco’s emergence as a world culinary center. Divided between a menu section (Part 1) with two hundred menus, and “Extraordinary and Secret Compositions in Culinary Art” (Part 2) with more than two thousand recipes. A dose of hyperbole can be assumed regarding the claim to secrecy, as at least some of the recipes had appeared in the author’s column in The Evening Post, whose collaboration is acknowledged on page [18]. A sampling: Austrian Soup Bread, Berliner Pfannkuchen, English Crumpets, Velvet Soup, Cream of Chicory Soup, Green Walnut Confit, Bar le Duc, Crème au Kirsch, Coup St. Jacques, Chiffonade Salad, Salad Eugenie, Okra and Sweet Peppers (mistakenly printed twice), Tripe à la mode Caen, Baron of Lamb, Squab Michels, Quail Forestiere, Fondue Savarin, Pineapple Omelette, Bohemian Eggs, String Beans with Raisins, Viennese Carrots, Raspberry Souffle, Cream Puffs St. Francis. ~ The bibliographer Dan Strehl identified the Alsatian Victor Hirtzler (1874-1931) some time ago (in One Hundred Books on California Food and Wine [Los Angeles: The Book Collectors, 1990], page 21.) as “one of the earliest celebrity chefs.” Among other means of attracting restaurant clientele, “Hirtzler presented seasonal menus demonstrating the highly sophisticated hotel dining of the time,” with menus heavily influenced by the haute cuisine of European royal courts. After a sidereal career that included posts at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and the royal Belém Palace in Lisbon, he had arrived at the St. Francis on Union Square in 1904, and thus endured the catastrophes of 1906, and remained after the rebuilding until 1925, when he retired to Strasbourg. (A fuller account is available in David Shields’s The Culinarians [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017], pages 526-529.) ~ The didactic “models” presentation of L’Art culinaire is likely intended as a counter to Escoffier’s Le guide culinaire, a reference text that had recently appeared in an abridged English translation in 1907. Hirtzler’s subscription edition of 1910, which includes a list of the patrons who underwrote its publication, has become quite scarce. Stamped “Popular Edition” on the front cover, this exemplar nonetheless includes the list of patrons that, according to the edition note on page [9], was reserved for subscribers; all of these copies are missing two signatures, which accounts for the pagination gap. Presumably, therefore, an undistributed number from the original limited print run. ~ In publisher’s blue cloth with black lettering. Small stain at top of spine running to top edge of rear cover, extending into upper (unprinted) margin of final text pages; light rubbing and extremity wear to covers, otherwise good or better. [OCLC locates thirteen copies of the subscription edition; Bitting, page 230; Brown 95 (undated); Glozer 127; Strehl 19; Cagle 362; not in Stoner].

Price: $250.00