From Punch and Judy to Haute Cuisine by Michael Flagg
Review 6 by Dennis Lilicrap Author of three popular publications

From Punch and Judy to Haute Cuisine - A Biography of the life and times of Arthur Edwin Simms 1915 to 1003., 1 Feb 2013 By  Dennis Lillicrap (Also on

This review is fromFrom Punch and Judy to Haute Cuisine: A Biography of the Life and Times of Arthur Edwin Simms 1915 to 2003 (Paperback)

What a massive undertaking. Michael Flagg is to be congratulated on this publication concerning the internationally known Caterer and Educator, Arthur Simms, who was someone who never looked for 'glory' or 'praise' but just got on with the job in hand. He was someone who motivated his students into achieving their maximum potential. He was a man to look up to.

At first glance this sizeable publication does not inspire you into opening the pages and browsing the contents. More thought and ingenuity should have gone into the production of the cover in order to encourage potential purchasers to look further and realise the 'might' of the man who inspired so many.

The vast amount of research done by Michael Flagg shows us many facets of the 'man' who did so much to progress catering education with his unstinting and enthusiastic work to achieve high standards at every level of catering education.

The amount of detail is enormous and very interesting to those who are able to cast their minds back into the times of Arthur Simms or to those who happen to know any of the famous 'names' mentioned from the catering world. One gets an intimate insight into the background of Arthur Simms world both pre and post world war two.

All this detail although at times dreary to read gives one an insight into the man himself. One realises his perseverance in achieving his goals. A man dedicated to succeed and he did. His strong links to both his family and his students are evident at all stages of this biography.

It certainly shows the student of today the strength of mind, hard work and toil that is required to achieve and reach the top of the ladder in one's career. It will make them realise that success in the Hospitality industry has to be earned.

What comes through to me is the fact that Arthur Simms believed that practical 'hands on' work in the Hospitality industry was essential whether one wanted to eventually work in the food production/service areas or in the management side of the Hospitality industry. A sound all round knowledge was a good stepping off stone for one's career.

It has to be said that in this publication the photography, layout and clarity of material, and guidance for the potential reader to find his way around this enormous work could be vastly improved. The amount of factual material is tremendous and at times I feel to the detriment of the reader. It causes you to loose your way in a ferment of information which leads you away from the main theme of the book - Arthur Simms. Where did he go?

It is not a volume that will have a vast following, in fact I feel the take up of this work will be somewhat limited. It does however achieve its aims of taking the reader into the 'Life and Times of Arthur Edwin Simms'.

For those who knew Arthur Simms personally or had close contact with him as students it brings much light on the 'man' and his life and allows us to understand the lengths he went to in his career to achieve success. For those perhaps researching the earlier days of the Hospitality industry and of catering education this will certainly be of some considerable assistance. A copy of this publication is a 'must' to be found in all University/College libraries for reference purposes.

I do not believe Arthur Simms was fully recognised for all his achievements and for the 'driving force' he was in assisting in the setting up of catering education as we know it today. I hope that this biography will go some way towards him getting the recognition he so richly deserved.

Dennis Lilicrap is the author of three major publications with some excellent reviews:-

Food and Beverage Service(8th edition published in 2010) with John Cousins and Suzanne Weekes

Questions and Answers in Food and Beverage Service

Essential Food and Beverage Service (co-authored by Suzanne Weekes)

    He is a consultant and a former Senior Lecturer at Thames Valley University and was a student of

    Arthur Simms at Highbury College Portsmouth Hampshire England