This Was Marie-Antoine Carême's First Commission

While Marie-Antoine Carême is a culinary name to know, even if you don't recognize his name, you've likely eaten food inspired by his genius. Though Carême was born into poverty and shared a family with dozens of other siblings, he found his talent for cooking early on when he was turned away from his family around just 8 years old (via NPR). Though he started at a lowly kitchen station like most do, he quickly learned the craft and rose to prominence.

According to Eater, it was Carême who created four quintessential sauces that Auguste Escoffier later built upon. But that was only one facet of his incredible rise to fame as the first-ever celebrity chef. Carême was also the one responsible for creating the elaborate and rich cuisine that is French food. By the time he was a teen under the tutelage of a pastry master, he was even replicating well-known ruins in pastry that stood up to four feet tall, according to NPR.

Marie-Antoine Carême's first commission made his career

While Carême's work at the pastry shop where he learned and worked was eye-catching, it was his first commission that really set off his career. Napoleon Bonapart's chief diplomat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, had recognized the talent that the young patisserie student possessed (via Eater). That's why, sometime around 1804 according to NPR, Talleyrand tested the young Carême to craft a menu for an entire year. No recipes or dishes could be repeated and Talleyrand asked the rising chef and baker to use local produce seasonally throughout the menu.

Fortunately, Carême passed the trial exercise and was asked to work under Taleyrand's personal chef where he learned more than just pastry and baking techniques. Carême even traveled with Talleyrand to the Château de Valençay where Napoleon stationed him. With Talleyrand's commission, Carême was exposed to much of the French nobility that allowed him to rise to culinary fame. His career and innovations certainly set the precedent for many other notable and celebrity chefs.