An astounding number of servants were responsible for retrieving ingredients for the dishes and then transporting the dishes to the royal table.

Cooking for the kingDaily life in the court kitchen

A massive number of servants were required for a large court like that of the first King of Württemberg, Friedrich I. The strict hierarchy of servants were responsible for retrieving ingredients for the dishes and then transporting the dishes to the royal table.

King Friedrich's audience chamber at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

The king himself decided the menus.

Strict kitchen hierarchy

Management at court was subject to a strict hierarchy, led by the lord steward. Administrative duties were assumed by the house chef and the kitchen clerk. They organized the supply inventory, assigned staff to tasks and drew up menus. These were then approved by the lord steward or by the king himself. 36 people made up the court kitchens and their management. They worked closely with the court wine cellar and the serving staff, as well as with the table setters and silver servants.

Cooks at work, illustration from the "Allgemeines deutsches Kochbuch" (Universal German Cookbook), 1819
Frontispiece from The Housekeeper's Instructor, William Augustus Henderson, 1791
Cooking in the Rococo period, scenes from the "Küchentaschenbuch" (Kitchen Pocketbook), Leipzig 1795

A great number of people worked in the king's kitchens.

Cooks, spit master and dish washers

Three personal cooks were responsible for preparing meals for the royal table. They were supported by two roasting masters, a salt cook and one additional cook. Preparation of the meals for the marshal's table, where many courtiers dined, fell to a knight's cook and three additional cooks. Even the kitchen staff was arranged hierarchically. Six kitchen boys, two maids and two washers were responsible for menial tasks and physically demanding jobs, such as washing the heavy casserole dishes and pots.

Caricature of the wedding between Friedrich von Württemberg and Charlotte Auguste Mathilde of England, The Bridal Night, James Gillrays, etching and aquatint, 1797

The king was known as "fat Friedrich."

Sweets for the king

The "spezereyen," or sweets, that King Friedrich I loved were also likely to blame for his corpulence. Two confectioners, an assistant and three helpers created the sweet temptations of sugar and exotic fruits. Fruits like lemons or pineapples were grown in the palace orangeries. One invoice from the royal "court confectionery" proves that Friedrich consumed sweets in copious quantities; in August of 1814 alone, this amounted to 13.5 pounds of "miscellaneous confections."

Crystal chandelier at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

The kitchen servants were responsible for ensuring that all the lamps in the palace were functioning correctly.

A multitude of tasks

The court kitchens were not only responsible for preparing meals but also for heat and lighting the palace. Before the introduction of gas lighting, oil lamps used rapeseed oil.