Technology available in the era of Delmonico's Restaurant
By JOE O'CONNELL,
First posted August 25, 2001 at 8:25 AM PDT (1525 GMT)
Last updated December 1, 2001 at 11:29 AM PDT (1929 GMT)
NEW YORK, New York -- Understanding the history
of Delmonico's Restaurant in New York requires an understanding of the
technology available, which is provided here.
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
As the history of Delmonico's Restaurant is retold, it is important
to understand the times. Consider that none of the following
technologies were available until late in the Nineteenth Century.
- There was no refrigeration, so food could not be preserved and
had to be prepared daily; cows had to be available nearby to
provide milk, cream and cheese; cattle, hogs and other
livestock had to be brought to market alive, because, once
slaughtered, their meat would spoil; the food in the kitchen
was hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
- There were as yet no canned goods, so the only food (with a few
exceptions like salted meat) had to have been eaten when fresh and
- There was no gas, so all cooking was done with wood and/or coal
- There were no gas or electric lights, so dining at night was of
necessity by candlelight.
- There were no elevators, so everyone had to ascend to higher
floors by stair; and, for the same reason, the convenience of
patrons dictated that the kitchen be on the highest floor.
Delmonico's Restaurant prospered in New York for almost 100 years.
During much of that time, the restaurant operated with few modern