The Professed Cook
The Professed Cook The Professed Cook The Professed Cook The Professed Cook

Or, the Modern Art of Cookery, Pastry, and Confectionary, made Plain and Easy. Consisting of the most approved Methods in the French as well as English Cookery. In which the French Names of all the different Dishes are given and explained, whereby every Bill of Fare becomes intelligible and familiar….Including a Translation of Les Soupers de la Cour; with the Addition of the best Receipts which have ever appeared in the French or English Languages, and adapted to the London Markets. By B. Clermont, who has been many Years Clerk of the Kitchen in some of the first Families of this Kingdom, and lately to the Right Hon. The Earl of Abingdon. 

London: Printed for W. Davis, T. Caslon, et al. 1776.

Third edition, revised and much enlarged. 8vo. 210x135mm. pp. x, [48], 610. Contemporary calf, rebacked with red label lettered in gilt to spine. Some marking and scuffing to upper and lower covers, corners repaired and strengthened. Overall, a nice binding. Internally in very good condition. A previous ownership inscription has been cut from the top right corner of the title page (c5x1.5cm). Some minor worming to the front and rear pastedowns but overall in excellent condition. A very nice copy of a fascinating, important and, institutionally quite rare book. ESTC records five copies in the UK and eleven in the USA.

Although referred to as the third edition, the 1776 edition was, essentially, a completely new book. The first edition of 1767 was published as an English translation by Bernard Clermont of Menon’s Les Soupers de la Cour and La Cuisine Reformée. It was given the title The Art of Modern Cookery Displayed. The second edition, published in 1769, had the same contents but appeared under the title “The Professed Cook”. This third edition of 1776, although still containing the translations of Menon’s works, now included a large number of Clermont’s own recipes and was presented as Clermont’s own work for the first time. It is important not just as a book of receipts (although these sound staggeringly good) but (as so often with cookery books) as a work of social history. The Professed Cook offers an insight into the “internationalism” of the English upper classes in the eighteenth century. The Earl of Abingdon had, naturally, undertaken a grand tour after graduating from Oxford in 1761. He employed a French chef, was a patron of J.C.Bach and Haydn, a supporter of the American Colonies during the War of Independence and a virulent critic of the French Revolution. This sounds like the perfect example of the good life: eat French food (but avoid their politics), support American liberty (but avoid their food) and listen to Austro-German music.