Among the many manuals written for the use of cooking professionals, The Culinary Handbook is the consummate aide memoire for American chefs. It is a conscientious listing of more than 3000 ingredients and preparations, each defined so as to provide all the basic information needed to produce and serve a finished dish and to describe it on a menu.
Published in 1904, “Fellows,” as it is usually referred to, has gone through innumerable editions over the years, setting out the basics of items ranging from anchovy canapés and crab gumbo to fresh corn fritters and mutton chop with glazed carrots. Charles Fellows, the compiler, was a culinary educator and an author of many works including the long-time best-selling A Selection of Dishes and the Chef’s Reminder (ca. 1900). His Chicago publisher, Hotel Monthly Press, issued dozens of books for the hospitality industry, including everything from hotel registers and purchasing ledgers to such specialties as The Wine Steward’s Manual and Dubelle’s Soda Fountain.
The Culinary Handbook is distinguished by its strongly American leaning. Fellows notes that “One of my first thoughts in writing this handbook is to abstain from French terms. I said to myself, I WILL WRITE AN AMERICAN CULINARY HANDBOOK FOR AMERICANS. I have heard it frequently stated that the terms for the bill of fare could not be represented by the American language. I SAY IT CAN.” [The italics and emphases are Charles Fellows’ own.]
Our copy is the very scarce 1904 first edition—so stated on its title page. When we secured it, it showed every sign of long and hard use—disbound, the red, leather-covered boards burned, stained, and crumbling. We had it nicely rebound in red cloth, with the original front cover title panel laid on. The book’s interior is, astonishingly, quite clean and unmarked and the binding is sound. We are pleased to include with the book the original boards and the very nice printed endpapers, which will make abundantly clear why the rebinding was necessary. This is a prize find, and we are pleased to be able to offer it.