MARCEL THOMAS September 1 1945


MARCEL THOMAS September 1 1945



Chef-Steward of the Mount Royal Hotel

As told to


Rationing doesn’t seem so bad after Marcel Thomas, noted chef, shows how he plans tasty menus on meatless clays

When I approached Marcel Thomas, chefsteward of the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal, soon after meatless Tuesdays and Fridays were reintroduced, I expected a moan which would be heard to the mountaintop. Instead, he was so cheerful he startled me. He was not angry at the fate that had decreed no rpeat twice a week; he was downright pleased.

Subsequently I lunched with him on three successive days in his subterranean office in the hotel and enjoyed three good meals without rationed meat. Succulent rabbit sauté with mushrooms was his treat. Where food is concerned, Marcel Thomas is full of little surprises that are important.

French-born, 55 years of age, he has worked in famous restaurants in Paris, London, New York and Philadelphia. In Paris he was at the Ritz, Dominici, Murguery ; in London at the Carleton und Cecil; in New York at Pierre’s, Club Royal on 52nd St., the Savoy; in Philadelphia, at Café l’Aiglon.

For 21 years he has been at the Mount Royal, the past 19 as chef-steward, top executive job, directing a staff of 250 men and women. The five kitchens which are his dominion are each divided into six stations, each with an executive head.— H. D.

A MEATLESS day is not a hard day to face, even though we must prepare 3,000 meals for our patrons and between 1,500 and 2,000 for our staff. It gives to chefs, who have ability, an opportunity to introduce new menus to the public. It is a challenge to the imagination.

Most of the days of the week we order by routine— so many pounds of roast beef, steak, etc. That is very dull. But we now must think harder about it.

A meatless day is beneficial rather than detrimental to anyone’s health. Many things can be put on the menu which have the same nutritive value as meat. Fish and poultry are our stand-bys, of course. If we didn’t have them unrationed, most hotels—and most people everywhere—would have a real headache.

Now that meat is rationed, it may help you prepare satisfying meatless meals in your home if I tell you how a big hotel meets the problem on two days of every week.

Here in the Mount Royal we have introduced rabbit on our menu and found it an overwhelming favorite. Fifty pounds of this unrationed meat goes at a single meal and we could sell much more if we could obtain it. We first tried it in 1944 as a special in our coffee shoppe. It was an instant success and a complete sellout; now we feature it twice a week.

Better Than Chicken

PEOPLE will eat rabbit almost any way it is prepared. At the hotel the favorite is rabbit sauté with mushrooms. I think rabbit is as good as chicken . . . even better; and I have so much faith in this as a household dish of the future, that I am sure it will not be long before the housewife will be able to buy rabbit prepared in several different ways.

Anyone can fry a chicken—but to sauté a rabbit needs a touch. Let me tell you how we do it at the Mount Royal; or, rather, how it should be prepared for a small family dinner in Mount Royal style.

After cutting the rabbit into six or eight pieces with a very sharp knife in order to prevent crushing the bones, season it with salt and pepper and fry in very hot vegetable fat. After the meat is well colored, drain the fat, add a piece of butter into the same pan and let it simmer with fresh mushrooms for five or six minutes. Throw in a little chopped shallot—half a teaspoonful—add half a glass of white wine if available. Add two tablespoonfuls of rich thick brown gravy and a teaspoonful of meat extract. Let the whole boil for 25 min. and add chopped parsley and serve very hot.

The best rabbit for frying is one five months old, or better still if from three to five months. For stewing it should be 10 months or a little younger, for roasting five or six months. After three months a rabbit’s live weight should be about six pounds and it increases slowly thereafter. I am not speaking of wild rabbits, which can, of course, be used, but of domestic rabbits.

Chicken is a dish loved by millions yet it can easily become tiresome unless the method of preparing and serving is varied. Try curried chicken Bombay. Here it is:

Take a medium-sized onion and chop it up, simmer in butter for five minutes, add a tablespoonful of chopped celery. Add half a cupful of flour, one dessertspoonful of curry powder and let simmer for five minutes while stirring. Add one quart of chicken stock, a few branches of parsley, a pinch of thyme and bay leaves and very little maize. Let boil slowly for 45 min.

If e fryer chicken is used, cut it up as for fricassee and let it simmer in butter for a few minutes on both sides, then strain sauce over and let boil slowly until the meat is tender; correct seasoning and add half a cupful of cream. (If milk of coconut is available, use half-and-half with chicken stock to make sauce.)

The best way to make this dish at home is to use meat of parboiled chicken or fowl in order to have the chicken stock., On the other hand, when using fryer water can be used instead of chicken stock. Serve with boiled rice, and also chutney sauce if available.

One of my own favorite dishes at any time is just a good piece of fish, practically any fish. Take a piece of perch, breaded and deep Continued on page 40

Meals Without Meat

Continued from page 10

fried. There is nothing to preparing it, yet it can be a delightful meal. It should be served with tartare sauce and coleslaw, of course. Or a broiled salmon steak. Cut the fish the whole length of the body and oil it well on both sides so it won’t stick to the broiler, season it well with salt and pepper, and serve with new boiled potatoes.

Haddock à la Russe can easily be prepared at home. It is poached haddock with sliced white onions and young carrots cooked in fish stock. After 15 min. remove the fish, drain the stock and use it to make white sauce in the usual way. Add chopped parsley and pour over the fish, but be sure to correct the seasoning.

For a pleasant change in the home, try fried capon livers à la creole. After thoroughly removing the part where the gall bladder is attached, season liberally with salt and pepper and fry

quickly in very hot fat. After it is well colored, drain the fat and add creole sauce.

You will be using more and more eggs and all of you will be serving cheese omelets. They are favorites everywhere, but a great many people make what I consider an error in adding the cheese to the omelet. The best way is to add the cheese when you are beating up the eggs. The cheese must be finely grated, of course.

Eggs can be added in many ways to give both taste and substance. On our menu you will often find casserole macaroni. It is so simple. The macaroni should be boiled but never overcooked. Place sliced boiled eggs over it and pour on rich crushedtomato sauce. Season it well and add a little grated cheese and brown breadcrumbs. It should bake for 10 min. and be served very hot. Keep a few hardboiled eggs handy all the time—they are useful, and always tasty with mayonnaise.

Spaghetti is a simple dish. Try it

with chicken livers. Boil the spaghetti and add a sauce of chopped chicken livers fried in butter with a few fresh mushrooms and a few chopped white onions. When well fried together add crushed tomato and salt and pepper and sprinkle with thyme. Cook down a long time in order to get rich thick sauce.

Here are some dishes to try:

Shredded salmon mornay and spinach au gratin. That simply means shredded salmon mixed with a white sauce, and with cheese over it.

Broccoli with fried egg and bread crumbs.

Stuffed tomato with rice and eggplant, chopped mushroom sauce au gratin.

Stuffed green pepper with rice, and chopped chicken liver and mushroom sauce.

Cold sliced turkey with aspic.

Broiled doré and sliced cucumber, mashed or new boiled potatoes.

Salads are always popular. Here are a few:

Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, slices of cheese, French dressing.

Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, coleslaw, sardines.

Tomato, cauliflower (cold), string beans (cold), potato, French dressing.

Hard egg, asparagus tips and tomatoes, French dressing.

Romaine, cantaloupe and orange, mayonnaise dressing.

Lettuce, tomato and chicken, mayonnaise.


For your more substantial meals in the evenings you will depend on chicken and sometimes duckling. Here are two additional recipes, very great favorites:

Minced chicken with mushrooms and noodles. Take a good-sized fowl or a heavy chicken, and boil it with the usual garnish in order to make a clear soup. Part of the chicken could be served as a boiled dinner and the leftover chicken could be used to make the minced chicken dish.

To ]/¿ lb. sliced fresh mushrooms, simmered in butter for five minutes, add two tablespoonfuls of flour and let simmer another five minutes, while stirring. Then add a half pint of boiled milk and the same amount of chicken broth and cook for about 10 min. Add salt and pepper, then add the minced chicken. Mix it with care and let boil 10 min. Correct the seasoning to taste and serve in a ring of freshly boiled noodles or spaghetti.

Brome Lake Duckling with apple and raisin dressing: Take a nice tender duckling (about five pounds), and after cleaning it in the usual way for roasting, stuff with two large minced apples, three ounces of raisins (preferably sultana), previously soaked in hot water for 15 to 20 min., two or three cupfuls of white bread crumbs, one tablespoonful of celery, chopped very fine, three ounces of melted butter, a pinch of chopped parsley, just a little sage, and season with salt and pepper. Blend the whole together, stuff the duckling and sprinkle salt and pepper over it with a little butter and cook very slowly, basting very often. It usually takes

1 to two hours in 350 to 400 deg. F.

After the duckling is thoroughly cooked, sprinkle salt over it, remove the fat from the pan and add one cupful of water or stock in order to make pan gravy.

These menus are the simple everyday dishes you are using continually, with only a few slight professional touches added. They will make your meatless days more interesting, to say the least.

Not only do I agree with the principle of meatless days but I would like to see the law more rigidly enforced, or added to. I think it would be wise to prevent housewives hoarding meat for the meatless day. It might be necessary to prohibit the butcher from selling meat on several days a week.

It’s Colossal

The problems of a hotel chef, or chefsteward, are sometimes enormous. Without notice sometimes we are asked to prepare an extra 1,000 meals for dinner or lunch. You, in your home, buy fish a few pounds at a time at most. We never buy under 300 lb. in a day, sometimes a ton and a half. A ton every Friday is a common order.

Meatless days or not, we always carry 1,500 lb. of chicken on hand in the Mount Royal and 1,500 lb. of beef. Replacements come in every day—if we dispose of 400 lb. of chicken on a Thursday, that amount is moved into the storage rooms the following day so that there is a constant available supply of about 1,500 lb.

We buy 150 dozen eggs at a time, never less frequently than three times a week. We buy 200 lb. of butter a day, which about meets our ration. We buy and s:41 80 to 90 lb. of coffee a day and 400-500 small tea bags. We do our own baking—we sell 6,000 to 8,000 rolls a day and sometimes cook 15,000 in a day. We have five bakers who do nothing but bake rolls. Others do nothing but make sandwich loaves, or pies and pastries, etc. And we have our own mixing and freezing plants for ice cream and iced dishes. Nothing is bought off the premises that we can make in the hotel. The hotel has its own printing shop, too, for menus, notices, etc.

All my buying is done by telephone from the best firms in Canada. To buy anything but the very best would be unthinkable. If it does not meet our standards it goes back immediately. I inspect all food when it arrives, and the merchants know what I want.

Ninety-nine per cent of the patrons of any first-class hotel never think about, and certainly never realize, the organization which goes into the simple meal that is placed before him. The immaculate table linen and the gleaming silver; the waiter’s pressed and correct uniform. Or the food, heated or chilled, just so, to his liking? Our cold storage rooms alone are, in all probability, larger than a patron’s entire home. So are our kitchens—six of them. Does he realize that the menu before him has gone through six stations, each chef contributing a little to the perfect whole? Or that 250 men and women are busy somewhere, deep and hidden in the hotel, in order that he may eat.