Athenæ'us affirms that cooks were the first kings of the earth.
In the luxurious ages of ancient Greece Sicilian cooks were most esteemed, and received very high wages. Among them Trimalcio was very celebrated. It is said that he could cook the most common fish, and give it the flavour and look of the most highly esteemed.
In the palmy days of Rome a chief cook had 800 a year. Antony gave the cook who arranged his banquet for Cleopatra the present of a city.
SOYER (Alexis), who died 1858. His epitaph is Soyer tranquille.
UDE. The most learned of modern cooks, author of Science de Gueule. It was Ude who said, “A cook must be born a cook, he cannot be made.” Another of his sayings is this: “Music, dancing, fencing, painting, and mechanics possess professors under the age of twenty years, but pre-eminence in cookery can never be attained under thirty years of age.” Ude was chef to Louis XIV., then to Lord Sefton, then to the Duke of York, then to Crockford's Club. He left Lord Sefton's because on one occasion one of the guests added pepper to his soup.
VATEL. At a fête given by the great Condé to Louis XIV. at Cantilly the roti at the twenty-fifth table was wanting. Vatel being told of it exclaimed that he could not survive such a disgrace. Another messenger then announced that the lobsters for the turbot-sauce had not arrived, whereupon Vatel retired to his room and, leaning his sword against the wall, thrust himself through, and at the third attempt succeeded in killing himself (1671).
WELTJE. Cook to George while Prince Regent.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894