THE FRENCH CHEF WHO REVOLUTIONISED BATTLEFIELD CATERING 1810-58 FRANCE
Born at Meaux-en-brie, Soyer was a wellregarded chef in France before he moved to Britain in 1830. He cooked for Queen Victoria among others before he assisted in efforts to relieve the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. Soyer set up relief kitchens in Ireland and published a book that gave proceeds to famine charities. During this time, he invented a portable, lightweight travelling stove that could be transported and used in remote locations like field hospitals. The success of the ‘Magic Stove’ became apparent in the Crimea. Soyer travelled there at his own expense to support cooking for the British Army. He worked with Florence Nightingale to revise the diet sheets for military hospitals and his stoves were installed in camp kitchens. They ensured that soldiers received an adequate meal and would not suffer from malnutrition or food poisoning. Adaptations of what became known as the ‘Soyer Stove’ remained in British military service until the Gulf War (1990-91). Soyer later wrote about his experiences in a book called A Culinary Campaign.
One Soyer Stove could cook food for 50 men either indoors or outdoors and worked in all weather conditions, including heavy rain