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 Joseph Donon

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Joseph Donon

  • Birth 21 Nov 1888 Devay, Departement de la Nièvre, Bourgogne, France
  • Death 19 Mar 1982 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Burial Cormeilles-en-Parisis, Departement du Val-d'Oise, Île-de-France, France
  • Plot Blaudin-Donon Family Tomb
  • Memorial ID 20690424

Pupil and disciple of the great chef Auguste Escoffier, and for thirty-eight years master chef for America's great hostess, Florence Vanderbilt Twombly ~ leader of 'Old Guard' Society in New York, and Newport, Rhode Island.
Receiving his early training in France, he was invited to work for Escoffier at the Carlton Hotel in London, in 1907. Hired in April, 1912, by American industrialist Henry Clay Frick, he was to board the 'Titanic', along with the family, but their departure was postponed due to an injury to Mrs. Frick on the way to the ship, which saved their lives. At the beginning of the First War, Joseph Donon left the Fricks' employ to join his regiment in France, being a citizen of that country and a member of its reserve army. Returning to America in 1916, the result of being wounded near Verdun, he briefly resumed work for the Frick family and underwent an operation, and rehabilitation, the result of his wounds.
On April 2, 1917, through recommendation from Mr. Frick, he began as chef-de-cuisine for Mrs. Twombly and her daughter, Ruth Vanderbilt Twombly; a position he held for nearly four decades ~ during which time he became an American citizen, founded "Les Amis d'Escoffier Society" in New York, and organized the 100th Anniversary celebration of Escoffier's birth with a special dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and was honored as the first recipient of the DeBands Award ~ presented annually to the person who had done the most to further the culinary profession in America.
After his retirement from "The Twombly Estates", in 1955, Donon supervised the opening of the Escoffier Restaurant at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California, published a book, "The Classic French Cuisine", and organized and endowed the Auguste Escoffier Foundation, and the Museum of Culinary Art, at the Escoffier birthplace in Villeneuve-Loubet, France. In 1963 he received the Marius Dutry Gold Cup ~ the most coveted award in the field of cookery, and in 1966 he realized his dream by attending the inauguration of the Museum of Culinary Art in France.
Throughout his professional life in America, Joseph Donon was active in many organizations. He served as presidents of "Les Medailles Militaires" - medalists of World Wars I and II, and the Federation of French War Veterans of New York; and as a director of the French Canteen in New York City. A founder and member of "Les Amis d'Escoffier Society of New York - created as a memorial to the great chef, a non-profit, non-commercial organization establishing scholarships in the field of culinary arts in America. He was president and founder of the Foundation Auguste Escoffier, and the Musee de l'Art Culinaire, at Escoffier's birthplace in Villeneuve-Loubet village, Alpes Maritimes, France. Mr. Donon was a contributing writer to a column, "Calendrier des Cordons Bleu", in the French-language weekly newspaper, the "France-Amerique", in New York City ~ and a founder and managing editor of the "Culinary Review", the chefs' national magazine. He was an adviser to the New York City Community College on hotel and kitchen technology - and to Cornell University, organizing courses for chefs training in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration. Mr. Donon gave much time establishing courses at the Culinary Institute of America, then located in New Haven, Connecticut. He was a member of the Board at the Institute for many years. In later years Donon was also an adviser to the Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts, in Providence, Rhode Island. He rendered these services without fee.
Joseph Donon died in Newport, Rhode Island, at the age of ninety-three, where he had established his residence at Villa Chez Nous ( "Our Place" ), the home he had built on Easton's Point, in Middletown ~ directly across from "Vinland", where he had worked so many summer seasons in Newport, for the Twombly family. A member of the Freemasons, the Masonic Funeral Service was performed in Newport, prior to burial in France.

Note: Find A Grave Memorials also added for Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, and her daughter, Ruth Vanderbilt Twombly, for whom Chef Donon worked for four decades.


  • Created by: R. Bruce
  • Added: 29 Jul 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20690424
  • R. Bruce
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Donon (21 Nov 1888–19 Mar 1982), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20690424, citing Cemitiere Cormeilles-en-Parisis, Cormeilles-en-Parisis, Departement du Val-d'Oise, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by R. Bruce (contributor 46568831) .