The Stage Deli, an institution in New York City, was famous for its celebrity-named sandwiches. Sadly, those mile-high sandwiches have disappeared along with the closing of Deli. But for the lucky few, whose memory lingers in the form of famous dishes, here are some of the most popular, familiar to all.
Ox wellington: Who put the meat in Wellington? Controversy abounds. The Duke of Wellington, a war hero who struck Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, frequently dined for steak, pate, and mushrooms, so after leaving his military duties, this rich dish was supposedly created in his honor (unknown what Napoleon ate, possibly raven). However, some historians reject that story and insist that meat wrapped in puff pastry has been around for centuries, unlike the Duke. (Yes, but did it also include mushrooms and pate?). A possible connection to Wellington, New Zealand also shares the credit.
Rockefeller oysters: This one is easy. Created by the son of famous New Orleans restaurateur Antoine’s, it was named after John D. Rockefeller, who at the time (1889) was America’s richest man (and oysters were pretty rich, too). The original recipe was never shared, so all future chefs have had to improvise. No one knows if it was a popular item at John D’s dinner table, but we’ll assume it was.
Cherry jubilee: No one was called Jubilee, but this special dessert was probably created by renowned chef Auguste Escoffier, who prepared the dish for one of the Jubilee celebrations of British Queen Victoria (she lived a long time), believed to have been the Jubilee of Diamante in 1887. When this burning delicacy was not setting fire to the dining room curtains, but was being savored by royalty in both England and Europe.
Benedict eggs: Certainly not named after the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold, there is a bit of competition regarding his origin. The well-known New York City restaurant Delmonico claimed ownership in 1860, but a gentleman named Lemuel Benedict insists it was his creation after ordering a full plate of breakfast foods topped with hollandaise sauce at the Waldorf Hotel. , 34 years later.
Caesar salad: A San Diegan named Caesar Cardini owned a restaurant called Hotel Caesar in Tijuana during Prohibition, which allowed him to serve alcohol during the 1920s. It was in his kitchen that this popular salad was created. Californians flocked to eat romaine lettuce, anchovies, and a special dressing; diners could also enjoy a cocktail or two. (Author’s note: As a San Diego resident, I can assure readers that no one travels south of the border for any type of salad these days, trust me.)
Chicken a la Rey: It does not bear the name of Elvis, but once again, the debates between historians and giant egos offer several versions; a gentleman from Philadelphia named William King insisted it was his creation in 1915; Another American, James Keene, argued that he came up with it, but the Keene Chicken just wasn’t enough (maybe Keene Chicken would have worked). Then Keene’s son Foxhall (could you make that up for me?) Backed up his father’s story in the 1890s; Noted hotel chef George Greenwald insisted he invented it for the hotel’s wealthy residents, Mr. and Mrs. E. Clark King II at New York’s Brighton Beach Hotel. So there you have it. You decide, and if your last name is King, you could also participate.
Newberg Lobster: A captain Ben Wenberg, who discovered a delicious seafood dish on his travels around the world, brought the recipe and offered it to Delmonico’s, a thriving restaurant in New York City in the late 1800s. The chef happily recreated it for the Captain after tweaking the rich ingredients a bit, and named it after him. Fast forward several decades, when the two men had a fight (perhaps too much or too little cream, no one knows) and the offended chef changed his name; there was no one named Newberg, it just sounded better. A first cousin of Lobster Thermidor, which we will give to the French, who gave him the name of a popular play.
Beef stroganoff: The first known recipe appeared in a Russian cookbook in 1871. Stroganov veal, with mustard, the name is derived from a Russian diplomat and Interior Minister Alexander Stroganov. It’s doubtful that the diplomat even tried his namesake, but you’d like to think that he conjured it one night while craving meat with sour cream. Many countries have similar variations, including China, all claiming origin, but it remains a mystery. We know for sure that neither the explorer Marco Polo nor the president of foodies Thomas Jefferson had the pleasure.
Romanoff noodles: It originally appeared at Romanoff’s, a favorite restaurant in the mid-1950s, located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Years later, the giant Stouffer’s Foods popularized it in its now-defunct Chicago restaurants, as well as a frozen version (also defunct). One of the main dishes on the menu, it featured a tangy cheddar and sour cream sauce, sinfully rich and delicious by all standards. Sadly, it has practically disappeared and must be made from scratch for those who still yearn for it.
Brandy Alexander: Some sources recognize Russian Tsar Alexander II as his namesake, but most likely he was named after Troy Alexander, a bartender at Rector’s, a New York City restaurant. Looks like he wanted to create a white dinner drink in honor of Phoebe Snow, a fictional character portrayed as a New York socialite who was a spokesperson for a railroad and always wore white (you find out). Regardless of the origin, it is still a delicious dessert drink made with creme de cacao, cream and brandy, supposedly the favorite cocktail of the legendary Beatle John Lennon.
Chateaubriand: A beef tenderloin named after a French ambassador and viscount in the early 19th century by his personal chef, Viscount Chateaubrant, hailing from a region of France bearing the same name; A great cut of prime steak, usually served as a meal for two, accompanied by a rich gravy and potatoes, but apparently the Viscount had a good appetite and he polished it up on his own, leaving Mrs. Viscount to fend for herself.
These timeless dishes are reminiscent of their namesakes in history books and top foodie hit parades. But cheer up. There’s always room for more, so start cooking and you too could become a famous dish for years to come.