|Alternative names||Chef's salad|
|Created by||disputed The Chef|
|Main ingredients||Hard-boiled eggs, meat, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, leaf vegetables|
Chef salad (or chef's salad) is an American salad consisting of hard-boiled eggs, one or more varieties of meat (such as ham, turkey, chicken, or roast beef), tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese, all placed upon a bed of tossed lettuce or other leaf vegetables. Several early recipes also include anchovies. A variety of dressings may be used with this salad.
Food historians do not agree on the history and composition of chef's salad. Some trace it to salmagundi, a popular meat and salad dish originating in 17th-century England and popular in colonial America. Others contend chef's salad is a product of the early twentieth century, originating in either New York or California. The person most often connected with the history of this salad is Louis Diat, chef of the Ritz-Carlton in New York City during the 1940s. While food historians acknowledge his recipe, they do not appear to be convinced he originated the dish, which is more popularly attributed to either chef Victor Seydoux at the Hotel Buffalo, a Statler Hotel in Buffalo, New York or to chef Jacques Roser at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City. Roser worked in various culinary positions in Paris before being invited to become head chef at the prestigious 1920s Hotel Pennsylvania, where he worked for over fifteen years. Seydoux first learned his craft in Montreux, Switzerland, and continued his studies in France and England before coming to work in the United States.
Seydoux's first experiences in the U.S. included positions at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton. Alice Rose Seydoux, widow of Victor, claims that the salad was officially launched at the Hotel Buffalo. When the customers started requesting the off-menu salad made with cuts of meat, cheese and hard boiled eggs, the hotel decided to add it to the menu. Giving chef Seydoux the honor of naming the salad he is purported to have said "Well, it's really a chef's salad."
The chef salad probably owes much of its popularity to Louis Diat, chef at the Ritz-Carlton. Cooking a la Ritz includes Diat's recipe, which includes a base of chopped lettuce topped with julienned boiled chicken, smoked ox tongue and smoked ham, then garnished with hard-cooked egg halves and watercress, all dressed with French Dressing. The inclusion of this salad on the menu at the Ritz-Carlton would have introduced the salad to more of the public. It is possible that the inclusion of Thousand Island dressing is also linked to the Ritz, since the hotel also introduced the dressing to New York City. Several other early chef salad recipes mention crumbling Roquefort cheese over the salad.
The first known printed recipe dates to 1936 and includes many ingredients found in later recipes, but no meat. A 1926 recipe already includes the garlic-rubbed salad bowl. In a note following the recipe, the author recounts the following story:
"Cook's Salad" appears on a Hotel Buffalo carte du jour menu dated December 1926.
"Cook's Salad" appears on a Hotel Buffalo dinner menu dated July 1928.
"Chef's Salad" appears on a Hotel Pennsylvania (NYC) dinner menu dated September 1929.