The Great Kitchen was completed in 1818 as part of John Nash’s reconstruction of the Royal Pavilion.

The Great Kitchen in the Royal Pavilion

The kitchen was designed to be innovative and modern for its day. Its facilities offered

  • the latest steam heating technology
  • a constant supply of water pumped from a nearby well into the Royal Pavilion’s own water tower, and
  • an impressive ventilation and illumination system of twelve high windows.

Royal Pavilion Great Kitchen

The Great Kitchen was not without its own ‘taste of the Orient’. Four cast-iron columns, ornamented with painted copper palm leaves, support the ceiling.

A kitchen to be seen

A kitchen so close to the Banqueting Room was unusual for the day. It gave George IV the opportunity to impress his guests with his new facilities and he often escorted his guests around the Great Kitchen as part of his tour of the state apartments. It was one of the first ‘show’ kitchens.

The Great Kitchen from Nash's Views
The Great Kitchen from Nash’s Views

A room dedicated to haute cuisine

The Great Kitchen and the Banqueting Room are separated by the Table Deckers’ Room. Here, the royal table deckers prepared elaborate designs for the great table in the Banqueting Room.

The great chef Antonin Carême

George IV had always admired French arts and culture, both visual and culinary. He was obsessed with food and dining and wanted to employ the very best French chefs.

He needed a chef who would appreciate and work well in his modern Great Kitchen. Also someone capable of producing the extravagant and ostentatious banquets that were so fashionable at the time – and that George so loved hosting.

Reproduction of the menu from a banquet served at the Royal Pavilion by the chef Antonin Carême in 1817
Reproduction of the menu from a banquet served at the Royal Pavilion by the chef Antonin Carême in 1817

Magnificent culinary works of art

In 1816 he employed renowned French chef Marie Antonin Carême to work for him at his London home, Carlton House, and at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

Carême was able to create magnificent culinary works of art that amused George’s guests and stimulated conversation. Particularly impressive were his elaborate confectionery pieces that sometimes stood four feet high and up to two feet across.

In 1817 Carême created eight confectionery centrepieces for the banquet held in the Pavilion to honour Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia. The menu also included 36 main dishes and 32 side dishes.

A short-term contract

Unfortunately Carême could not be persuaded to stay long in George’s employment and he returned to France in 1817.