Details of the funeral of Victor Ceserani, who died last week at the age of 97, have been announced, as the industry pays tribute to the inspirational catering educationalist.
A requiem mass will take place at 10am on 14 March at the Church of St Vincent de Paul, 2 Witham Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 4AJ, with a reception afterwards at Syon House. Anyone who would like to attend the service, should contact Jonne Ceserani at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ceserani died two weeks after being admitted to hospital, suffering from cancer. After a career when began in the kitchen of London's Ritz hotel, he went on to became a lecturer at Acton Catering School, before eventually rising up to become head of the catering school at Ealing College of Higher Education.
His immense contribution to the industry has been highlighted by many leading operators who frequently mention the series of textbooks - regarded as industry bibles - which he co-wrote with Ronald Kinton and Professor David Foskett. First published in 1963, they included Practical Cookery, Advanced Practical Cookery and The Theory of Catering. More recent editions were updated with contributions from chef John Campbell.
Heading the tributes was Michel Roux, proprietor of the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, who described Ceserani as "a giant" in the profession who was also "gentle, humble and generous with advice and support".
He continued: "Victor was simply the best, most passionate academician, an excellent cook and great chef, a rare combination, not just in the UK but also in the world. He was a man of action and an inspiration, who led by example."
Ceserani worked alongside Michel Roux and his brother Albert for 20 years as vice chairman of the Roux Scholarship. Roux said the support of Ceserani during this time was "priceless".
He added: "Victor's towering legacy lives on, not just in all the countless chefs he taught and inspired, including me, but in his many books. I love having his library at hand. I will remember him as a gifted teacher, a true chef, but first and foremost my friend."
Professor David Foskett, retired head of school of hospitality and tourism, University of West London, who worked alongside Ceserani for 37 years, said: "Victor was an inspirational man who has touched so many lives and left us with a great legacy. He was a man of integrity, faith and compassion. A truly wonderful person who will be dearly missed. "
Vic Laws, director AVL Consultancy, was a student at Acton in 1960 when Ceserani him cookery. "He was such a generous man who was always willing to give up his time for past students, always remembering who they were and where they were working," he said. "We have lost a legend, but his contribution will go on for a long time for the benefit of our profession with students still using their editions of Practical Cookery."
Another former student was Wendy Bartlett, now proprietor of Bartlett Mitchel. She said: "Victor was my head of school. I was once called into his office for doing something and I thought I was going to be told off, but he actually congratulated me on being very entrepreneurial."
Meanwhile, Mike Smith, chairman, Oakman Inns, described Ceserani as his first "industry hero, a lovely man and a true inspiration to so many", adding that Practical Cookery was his our bible.
Roger Hulstone, retired chef, who worked with Ceserani on developing the Forte apprentice and graduate chef programme, said: "He was an amazing man, small in stature, but a giant amongst chefs."
Following his retirement in 1980, Ceserani remained active in the hospitality industry for many years, during which he became an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts said that if anyone deserves to be called a legend it is Ceserani .
"He was loved and revered in equal measures," she explained. "His knowledge of the culinary repertoire, which he was always willing to share, has been acknowledged across the world of hospitality."
Brian Turner, president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, said that Ceserani "was a marvellous communicator" and "a proud Englishman" who was always generous with his time and knowledge.
"He may have been a little fellow, but he had a big heart and exuded the true spirit of hospitality. He also knew how to laugh and we had some wonderful fun times together."
Two of the past winners of the Roux Scholarship also shared their thoughts. Simon Hulstone, chef-proprietor, Elephant restaurant and brasserie, Torquay, Devon, and 2003 Roux Scholar, said: "What a brilliant man. Victor was the kindest person to both Dad (Roger Hulstone) and me when I was a young chef."
Steve Love, chef-proprietor, Loves restaurant, Birmingham, and 1997 Roux Scholar, added: "Victor judged me when I won the Roux Scholarship. I remember looking up during the finals and being in awe, realizing that he was there, actually tasting and judging my food. He was always very encouraging."
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE BY JANET HARMER, HOTELS EDITOR
I met Victor almost exactly 30 years ago when I joined The Caterer (then known as Caterer and Hotelkeeper) as a young restaurant reporter. I had been working in journalism for several years, but I was new to the hospitality industry.
Victor had retired seven years earlier from his full-time position as the head of catering faculty at Ealing. However he was as active as ever within the wider industry and one of his many roles included working as a consultant to The Caterer.
I think he quickly realised that my knowledge of the professional kitchen was zero, but assured me that he would always be there to help and support me whenever I needed him. I may not have seen him formally teach, but I regard myself as exceptionally fortunate to have benefited from his gentle encouragement and the belief he instilled in me that I could master a subject about which I had previously little experience.
One of my fondest memories of Victor was from around 1990 when I joined him, Richard Shepherd of Langan's Brasserie and several others on a whistle-stop, three day tour of some of the UK's leading catering colleges to judge a student competition, the name of which escapes me. Not only did I learn a lot, but I don't think I've ever laughed so much at Richard and Victor's marvellous double act.
Age gradually crept up on Victor, but he always remained enthusiastic about the industry and wanted to contribute in any little way he could. Six years ago, concerned as to where the next pool of talent was going to come from to support the every expanding hospitality industry, he spoke to me in depth about why more needed to be done to facilitate kitchen apprenticeships.
Over the past few years, Victor was no longer able to physically join in industry events, but he always kept up-to-date with what was going on through his copy of The Caterer. Nothing escaped his attention. Every few months we would chat on the phone and he would pass comment on the latest news.
I like, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have very special memories of Victor and am extremely grateful for his generous and inspiring spirit. We are all very lucky to have spent time with him and will miss him enormously.
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