This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"The great gastronomic fete held in a wing of the Exhibition building on the Champ de Mars, Paris, last month, July 1888 has been a good deal discussed in the newspapers, but no authentic account of the organization and service of the monster feast has hitherto appeared in print. We now have pleasure in supplying such particulars from the pen of our valued collaborater M. Suzanne, who, himself an eye-witness of the banquet, has obtained supplementary details from the great catering firm of Potel and Chabot, who were the appointed purveyors:
" A table d'honncur was reserved at one end of the room for President Carnot and his numerous entourage, composed of 340 persons, and including members of the Government and the most notable representatives of art, science, industry, and commerce. The two services were also represented by officers of the highest grade in uniform, and at the other end of the room, facing the President, and mounted on a raised platform, played the unrivalled band of the Garde Republicaine, whose melodious strains served to pleasantly mask the unavoidable rattle of the plates and the simultaneous plying of 3,000 knives and forks. Besides the table d'honneur, there were fifty-six minor tables symmetrically arranged in rows of seven. These tables were isolated from each other by a wide space so as to avoid incumbrance, and to allow free circulations to the servitors. Corresponding to each row of seven tables was a broad passage leading to a kitchen, where ten cooks were at work. Consequently there were in all eight kitchens and eighty cooks employed.
"Each kitchen was: fitted up with a range, a complete set of steam cooking apparatus, and eight or ten charcoal stoves; but I remarked that there were no gas appliances of any kind. Each table was laid for fifty persons, and bore a central placard, duly numbered, and indicating the names of the respective provinces, so that the representatives of each could group themselves together.
"The mayors, who had been previously supplied with a miniature plan of the dining-saloon containing detailed information, experienced no difficulty whatever in finding the places allotted to them. As the clock struck seven, the entire company were seated, awaiting the arrival of President Carnot In front of each table stood a head waiter, whose mission it was to superintend and survey the service of the section confided to his charge. In all, there were 350 waiters on duty.
"Upon the arrival of the President and his ministers, the band struck up the National Anthem, and simultaneously a signal given by M. Lasson, when the eight doors leading to the kitchens were thrown open as if by magic, and one hundred "garcons" marched into the dining-room, each carrying a tureen of potage a la St. Germaine. A few minutes latei, this body of waiters made their exit with the empty tureens.
"After the soup, according to French fashion, " hors d'ceuvres" were handed round. The relish materials consisted of 350 bundles of radishes, 75 lbs. of Lyons sausages, 400 boxes of sardines, 125 lbs. of prawns, 50 lbs. of oliv s, and 40 lbs. of butter, in pats. The soup was " relieved " by 120 dishes of trout in jelly, with French sauce, the latter being a mayonnaise in which a pure of lobster coral and some whipped cream had been mixed.
"The hot dishes followed: 75 braised fillets of beef, which were larded and garnished with stewed carrots, no fewer than 300 bunches of that vegetable having been prepared for the purpose. The roasted turkey poults, to the number of 300 were also served hot. To accelerate the service, they had been previously carved in the ki'chens, and were brought to table with 300 bowls of dressed salad; 80 galantines truffles, and 80 pies were afterwards introduced.
Potage St. Germain.
Truite a la Gelee, Sauce Francaite.
Filet de Boeuf Parisienne.
Galantines de Poulardes truffees.
Dindonneauz Nouveaux rotis.
Pates de Foies Gras.
Baba au Rhum.
"Then came the entrements: 300 dishes of stewed peas, babas au rhum, bombes glacdes, and numberless dishes of all kinds of pastry. The dessert was composed of all the fruits in season, such as strawberries, cherries, apricots, grapes, and pineapples. There were also an infinite number of compotes, and endless pyramids of biscuits and bonbons. A bottle of claret was placed before each guest; but independently of that, champagne, madeira, choice burgundy, and liqueurs were served with the second course. Three thousand seven hundred bottles of wine were consumed at this gigantic banquet. The 3,000 cups of coffee distributed after the repast were also prepared by the contractors, who had hired two immense coffee-making apparatuses, such as those used for army campaigning purposes, and known as "percolateurs." With the coffee, liqueurs and spirits were introduced, the number of bottles emptied being as follows: 125 bottles of cognac brandy, 75 bottles of kirsch-wasser, and 70 bottles of chartreuse.
"The description of this gastronomic function would not be complete without some mention of the table utensils used for the occasion. These consisted of 27,-000 plates, 15,000 wine-glasses and tumblers, and 12,000 sets of knives and forks.
"The orderly and efficient manner in which the whole affair was conducted refleets the greatest credit on the caterers, who, needless to say, had to encounter numberless difficulties. Thanks to their skilled experience and well-considered arrangements, all obstacles were overcome, and the fame of Potel and Chabot as mammoth foodproviders not only upheld, but distinctly enhanced. - London Caterer.