Alessandro Filippini: master chef
By JOE O'CONNELL,
First posted 25 August 2001 at 1525 GMT
Last updated 30 November 2003 at 1720 GMT
NEW YORK, New York — The history of
Delmonico's Restaurant in New York was that of one of its central
players, the cook, chef de cuisine and writer, Alessandro
On December 13, 1827, Giovanni ("John") and Pietro ("Peter")
Delmonico opened their first cafe, where they sold coffee, wine and
pastries. The business prospered, and they had the immense good
fortune to bring their nephew, Lorenzo, into the business. Under
Lorenzo's constant attention to excellence in every detail, Delmonico's
Restaurant became synonymous with the highest standards of food and
In 1837, the brothers hired John Lux as the chef de cuisine of
Delmonico's Restaurant. Lux guided Delmonico's Restaurant to
1848 was the year when Peter Delmonico retired (John Delmonico had
died suddenly six years before), and Lorenzo Delmonico became the sole
owner of the business. The business included both the Delmonico's
Restaurant at No. 2 South William Street (called the "Citadel")
and the Delmonico Hotel at 25 Broadway. Under Lorenzo's ownership
and management there opened the grand era of Delmonico fame and fortune.
In 1849, Lorenzo hired a cook, Alessandro Filippini.
Apparently Lorenzo Delmonico was impressed with Filippini's knowledge
and creativity, so Filippini was named as the chef de cuisine at
Delmonico's Restaurant. Until 1862, when the new restaurant on
14th Street was opened and Lorenzo hired Charles Ranhofer to be the
chef de cuisine at that location, Filippini (and perhaps John Lux)
guided Delmonico's Restaurant to its world-class reputation.
Beginning before 1884, Filippini managed the Delmonico's Restaurant
at Pine Street. In 1888, Young Charles Delmonico decided to close
the Pine Street restaurant, and Filippini retired and started a new
career as a food writer and consultant.
In 1889, Filippini published a cookbook, The Table, with
recipes simplified from the actual Delmonico’s preparation. The
book included a letter of praise from Young Charlie Delmonico.
There is a mystery associated with Filippini's
letter to Charles C. Delmonico asking for permission to dedicate his
book to the Delmonico Family. He wrote, apparently in 1888:
"Having been with the 'Delmonico's' for nearly a quarter of a century
. . . " The problem is simply that, by 1888, he must have been
with the Delmonico's perhaps since 1840, which would have been "nearly
half of a century", not merely a "quarter". Perhaps the
explanation is no more complicated than a simple counting or writing
error by Filippini.
Filippini's cookbook set in motion the publication of French
cookbooks by two other famous chefs de cuisine. The first
the 1894 publication by Charles Ranhofer of The Epicurean, a
treatise on food with more than 1,100 pages and 3,500 recipes. The
second was the 1903 publication by Auguste Escoffier (perhaps the most
famous food author in history, who had been chef de cuisine at
the Ritz Hotel in London in the early 1900s) of Le Guide Culinaire.
Alessandro Filippini helped Lorenzo Delmonico guide Delmonico''s
Restaurant to the height of culinary excellence.