FOOD RESOURCE COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
Excerpted from Montagne, Prosper. 1961. Larousee Gastronomique. The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery. Crown Publishers, Inc., New York.
is one of the greatest restaurateurs of the nineteenth century.
Having completed his training in the kitchen of the Café d'Orsay (which today no longer exists), he took charge of the Café Foy, which he re-organized completely and made one of the best restaurants in Paris.
In 1847 he handed over this establishment (which has now also disappeared) to his brother, who had just married Mademoiselle Callot, a daughter of a director of one of the most celebrated restaurants of the time 'Les Freses Provencaux'.
Bignon then took over the management of Café Riche. A remarkably intelligent man, he did not limit his activities only to cookery, but also took a lively interest in vine-growing and agriculture. With a few friends he founded the Societe des Agriculteurs de France. He was later elected a member of the Societe Nationale d'Agriculture and of the Conseil superieu de l'agriculture, du commerce et de L'industrie..
In the world exhibitions which were held in Paris and London from 1862 to 1880, he received the highest awards for agricultural produce, wines and selected products which he exhibited.
All the famous people of that epoch, all the great artists, all the great writers used to be frequent visitors to Bignon's restaurant. Café Riche was the most famous restaurant in Paris and its renown was world-wide.
Many magnificent dishes, which to this day figure on the menus of the best restaurants of the world, were invented at the Café Riche, Sole a la Riche and Woodcock a la Riche both originated there.
In 1867, Louis Bignon was awarded the Legion of Honour. He was the first French restaurant-keeper to have attained this distinction; it was in fact bestowed upon him not in his capacity of a great restaurateur, but that of a famous agriculturist.