Ludwig Bemelmans may be best known as the author and illustrator of the extraordinarily popular Madeline series of children's books. But, the man behind the red-haired French schoolgirl was also a painter, novelist, screenwriter, and, for much of his life, employee of hotels and restaurants. Between 1938 and 1942, Bemelmans published four books about his career as a waiter and restaurateur, selections of which have been collected in the new book Hotel Bemelmans.
The stories, accompanied by charming drawings by Bemelmans, reveal the cast of characters who made up the behind-the-scenes world of the professional kitchens of the 1920s and 1930s. In an introduction to Hotel Bemelmans, Anthony Bourdain writes: "Kitchen Confidential -- as I learned recently, reading these pages for the first time -- was nothing new at all. Bemelmans got there first, more frequently and better, describing brilliantly the whole world of kitchens, back passageways, pilfered foods, dining rooms and banquet halls -- a strange, fabulous and sometimes terrible world populated by rogues, con-men, geniuses, craftsmen, lunatics, gypsies, tramps, and thieves. It is a truly great book that paints a universe both fascinating to outsiders and immediately familiar to anyone who has ever dwelled there."