Legendary dishes invented by legendary hotels
The Waldorf Salad
This refreshing salad of apples, celery, grapes and walnuts in a mayonnaise dressing
has its own origin story, one that dates back to the 19th century. The Waldorf’s original
maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky (famously known as “Oscar of the Waldorf”), created it for
a charity ball that was hotel’s debut event – launching a renowned hotel and a
renowned dish at the same time.
Today you can buy a brownie at just about any bakery, but in 1893 the only place they
could be found was the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. A creative pastry chef came
up with the recipe for this much-loved chocolate dessert, and exactly the same recipe is
still used in the hotel kitchen today.
Everyone’s favourite brunch dish was hatched in the kitchen of the Waldorf Astoria,
where, it’s said, a broker by the name of Lemuel Benedict asked for toast, eggs, bacon
and hollandaise in the hopes of curing a hangover. The hotel sent out what is now
known as “Eggs Benedict”, a dish that has been the salvation of the hungry, the tired
and the hungover ever since.
The Piña Colada
The ultimate tropical drink, the piña colada was invented by Ramón Marrero, bartender
at the Caribe Hilton San Juan in the 1950s. In a fit of inspiration, Marrero mixed rum,
coconut cream and pineapple juice to create the cocktail that has come to symbolise
the beachside vacation. Marrero continued to personally mix the drink for hotel guests
for 35 years.
Thousand Island Dressing
The Thousand Islands lie between the United States and Canada, and the story goes
that the owner of the Waldorf Hotel, George Boldt, asked for salad dressing while on a
boat trip in the region. Short of the usual ingredients, his chef invented the mayonnaisebased
dressing that we still love today. Boldt himself liked it so much that it’s been
served at Hilton hotels since he brought the recipe back in 1894.
Red Velvet Cake
The silky sweetness of a red velvet cake can’t be beat, and the eye-catching, layered
chocolate-and-cream dessert has been beloved since the 1930s. That’s when, as
legend has it, the cake emerged from the kitchens at the New York Waldorf Astoria.
While some say the cake was invented before that, it’s the Waldorf’s version that made
it the world-famous classic it is today.
The debate over the “correct” way to drink a martini – whether with gin, vodka, or even
espresso – has been going on since the 1890s when it was first mixed at New York’s
Waldorf Astoria. Originally called the “Waldorf Astoria Cocktail”, the martini has been a
bar mainstay ever since. Just ask James Bond.