An analysis of press content from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has indicated that stigmas and stereotypes were a part of the culinary culture of the period. This played out in relation to food. That is, the consumption of ‘English’ food was stigmatised, while ‘French’ food was glorified by a new generation of English gourmets. Yet, there were also stigmas attached to those that prepared and served this food. A French chef was seen as integral for the success of any high-end restaurant in the English capital. European waiting staff were also preferred as, according to the trade material from the period, many had training prior to coming to London, they could often speak multiple languages, and they were willing to accept lower wages than those born in England. That being said, they were often stereotyped as would-be criminals trying to take advantage of the natives. On the other hand, the English were simply viewed as ‘bad cooks’. Nor were they particularly sought after as waiting staff as it was said that they did not take the job seriously and lacked the appropriate skill set. In consequence, the way that they were viewed led to segregationist attitudes and xenophobic alliances. This paper will focus on these stereotypes and stigmas, and address how native chefs and waiters, and those who travelled to work in London from across the continent, sought to challenge them.
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