Charles Fellows: Menu Maker…and Menu Collector!

This week, we’re looking at a title that had been on my running list of things to share on the blog. I don’t remember how it got on the list or indeed, how I came across the title in the first place, but, with more than 4,700 titles in the History of Food & Drink Collection, that can be the case a lot of the time. If you look at the catalog record for this week’s feature, it reads Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants… When you get to the title page, we may have a new competitor for longest title:

Fellows' Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants..., 1910
Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants…, 1910

So, that’s Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants, with Object of the Changing from Day to Day to Give Continuous Variety of Foods in Season. A Reminder for the Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner, and Supper Cards, Together with Brief Notations of Interest to the Proprietor, Steward, Headwaiter and Chef. An Exposition of Catering Ideas Calculated to Popularize Public Dining Halls…A Chapter Devoted to the Most Popular Soups, Fish, Boiled Meats, Roasts and Entrees. Also a Department for Banquet Bills of Fare and Suggestions for Dinner Party Menus…The Book Supplemented with an Exposition of Menus and Editorial Matter Relating to Menu Compilation Reprinted from The Hotel Monthly.  

Fellows compiled a book that contained notes on menu planning from his experience combined with menus from other restaurants, short articles of food related interest, and even a few cartoons. On the whole, an interesting mix.

Although Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants… is the only of Fellows’ titles in our collection, he was the author of two other books: A Selection of Dishes and the Chef’s Reminder: A High Class Culinary Text Book and The Culinary Handbook. (On a side note, this Charles Fellows shouldn’t be confused with Sir Charles Fellows, an archaeologist and traveler who was somewhat more prolific, which WorldCat kept trying to do to me, when I well knew the difference!) Fellows did his research and must have reached out to many colleagues to solicit content.

While we don’t know much about its reception at the time, from a historical perspective, this book gives us all kinds of exciting background. It tells us about what restaurants were serving and how, it can give us a comparison between restaurants whose menus were printed here, it gives us insight into some business practices (there’s a short article about how to keep wait staff from “short checking,” for example), and it shows us an economic snapshot of different types of restaurants from the period. Plus, it’s just plain interesting!

Since it was published in 1910, it is out of copyright now. You can visit us to look at our copy, but if you’re not nearby, you can also find it online through Cornell University’s Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History (HEARTH). You know, for all your hotel menu planning needs.🙂

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