First class passengers aboard Titanic usually dined in the enormous and breathtaking first class dining saloon, and the meals there were included in the price of a first class ticket. (At the time, the word “saloon” meant a large, comfortable room.) But there was also another option available if they chose to pay extra—the A la carte restaurant known as The Ritz.
Photo of The Ritz restaurant aboard RMS Titanic
Located on Deck B next to the Café Parisien, the elegant 140-seat restaurant was said to be the best in the world. Both restaurants were owned and managed by Gaspare Antonio Gatti, known to passengers as Luigi. He’d emigrated from Italy and became a well-known restaurant owner in London until the White Star Line convinced him to open his own restaurants on Titanic.
Passengers lined up for the privilege of eating at The Ritz and it was always completely booked for dinner. Nothing was too much trouble for Gatti, and he and his staff went out of their way to cater to every passenger’s request.
Gatti hired his own 66-member staff of chefs, waiters, and kitchen help, mostly Italian or French nationals. None of them were White Star Line employees, nor were they passengers. When the ship struck the iceberg, stewards kept the restaurant staff from boarding the lifeboats. All but three of the staff perished in the sinking, including Gatti, who left a wife and young son in England.
Those saved were two female cashiers and the French Maitre D’, Paul Mauge. He tried persuading the Ritz’s chef to jump into a lifeboat with him, but the chef said he was “too fat" and refused. Mauge managed to leap onto a lifeboat as it was being lowered into the ocean. His jump broke both legs of a woman already in the boat.
Paul Mauge, Maitre D'