Soyer was born at Meaux-en-Brie in France. During the Trois Glorieuses revolution in 1830, Soyer fled to England and joined the London household of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, where his brother Philippe was head chef. In 1837 Soyer became chef de cuisine at the Reform Club in London. He designed the kitchens with Charles Barry at the newly built Club, where his salary was to be more than 1,000 pounds a year. He instituted many innovations, including cooking with gas, refrigerators cooled by cold water, and ovens with adjustable temperatures. His kitchens were so famous that they were opened for conducted tours.
During the Great Irish Famine in April 1847, he invented a soup kitchen and was asked by the Government to go to Ireland to implement his idea. This was opened in Dublin and his "famine soup" was served to thousands of the poor for free. While in Ireland he wrote "Soyer's Charitable Cookery." He gave the proceeds of the book to various charities.
Soyer wrote a number of books about cooking. His 1854 book "A Shilling Cookery for the People" was a recipe book for ordinary people who could not afford elaborate kitchen utensils or large amounts of exotic ingredients.
During the Crimean War, Soyer joined the troops at his own expense to advise the army on cooking. Later he was paid his expenses and wages
equivalent to those of a Brigadier-General. He reorganized the provisioning of the army hospitals. He designed his own field stove, the Soyer Stove, and trained and installed in every regiment the "Regimental cook" so that soldiers would get an adequate meal and not suffer from malnutrition or die of food poisoning. He wrote "A Culinary Campaign" as a record of his activities in the Crimea.
Alexis Soyer died on 5th August 1858 and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.
Original: viii, 183 pp., 9 illustrations.