Rarely has a man defined the spirit of an age as well as Alexis Soyer. A celebrity chef, bestselling author, entrepreneur, inventor, and Crimean war hero, Soyer built the world famous kitchens of London's Reform Club and filled them with such ingenious inventions as the gas stove and steam lifts. In the 1840s he established soup kitchens during the Irish potato faminea revolutionary concept at the timeand in the following decade risked his life by traveling to the Russian peninsula to reform army catering for the troops, saving thousands of soldiers from the effects of malnutrition. But Soyerin the spirit of his agewas also a secret womanizer, near bankrupt, and an alcoholic. Despite the fame of his lifetime, Soyer dropped completely from the public eye after his untimely death. His friend Florence Nightingale, never one to praise lightly, wrote that his passing was "a great disaster for the nation." Despite making several fortunes Soyer died penniless. His personal papers were destroyed, his funeral a hushed-up affair, and today his grave lies neglected and rotting. This is the story of one of the Victorian ages most favoredand soon forgottenshining stars.
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