Biography of the Victorian chef Alexis Soyer. Besides cementing the Reform Club's reputation for good food and writing a number of important cookery books, Soyer took a great interest in catering for large numbers of people on a budget, working with the British government during the Irish potato famine and the Crimean War; he was also a successful culinary equipment engineer, designing stoves some of which are still in use today. While I'd heard of him before in connection with the Reform Club, I wasn't aware of the breadth and depth of his accomplishments.
This is an impressive book; Cowen has clearly done a great deal of research, and her writing is never dry or dull. I do wish she'd included more of Soyer's recipes, but aside from that it's hard to find fault here. Highly recommended for anyone who's into cookery; I just wish Soyer's own books were a bit cheaper second hand!