A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 25, 2008
Chef Salad (Chef’s Salad)

Chef salad (or “chef’s salad”) is a tossed salad that contains lettuce, several vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and often cheese and meat (such as ham). Early recipes (from the 1930s) included anchovies—then considered an essential ingredient—with French dressing, prepared in a garlic-rubbed bowl. “Chef salad” is cited in print from at least 1928.
The salad was often mixed by the chef at the diner’s table. Several early accounts claim that this “chef’s salad” was made by European chefs for themselves, before they decided to serve it for their customers. The chef salad was popular in 1930s New York City, where celebrated chef Louis Diat (1885-1957) of the Ritz-Carleton and celebrated restaurateur George Rector (1879-1947) served it. The chef salad was once a specialty of fine hotels, but has become commonplace today.
There is no documentary evidence available to confirm the origin of “chef salad” with any particular chef, hotel or restaurant. The Wikipedia entry for “chef salad” was changed in December 2008, with information added about chef Victor Seydoux of the Hotel Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, where the “chef salad” is claimed to have been invented in the 1920s. There is no documentation to support the claim; NewspaperArchive.com includes several upstate New York newspapers, but the entire database doesn’t show a single mention of chef Victor Seydoux.
chef’s salad
A tossed green salad that usually includes raw vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and julienne strips of cheese and meat.
Wikipedia: Chef salad 
The Chef Salad was likely created by chef Victor Seydoux at the Hotel Buffalo, a Statler Hotel in Buffalo, New York. Chef Seydoux first learned his craft in Montreux, Switzerland and continued his studies in France and England before coming to work in the United States. His first experiences in the U.S. included positions at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton. Although the origin of the salad is not generally known, as reported by Alice Rose Seydoux, widow of Victor, the salad was officially launched at the Hotel Buffalo. Chef Seydoux, who was responsible for running the kitchen on a tight budget, began using some of the small slices of meats and cheese in a salad that he served to select customers. When the customers started requesting it regularly, 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.”
Chef salad (or Chef’s salad) consists of hard-cooked eggs, strips of ham, roast beef, turkey, and/or chicken, and cheese, all of which are placed upon a bed of tossed salad greens. The dressing on this salad was traditionally Thousand Island dressing, but today it is often served with a dressing of the consumer’s choice.
Chef Salad is generally a salad of mixed greens garnished with eggs, crumbled cheese, and/or meat. Several early recipes include anchovies. It probably owes much of its popularity, according to Evan Jones in American Food: The Gastronomic Story (1975), to Louis Diat, Chef at the Ritz-Carleton. According to his book Cooking a la Ritz Diat’s recipe reads as follows: “Chef’s salad. Place separately in a salad bowl equal amonts of chopped lettuce (place on the bottom of the bowl), boiled chicken, smoked ox tongue and smoked ham, all cut in julienne style. Add 1/2 hard-cooked egg for each portion. Place some watercress in the center and serve with French Dressing.”
Speculation is that, while Diat obviously did not invent the salad, older recipes exist, its inclusion on the menu at the Ritz-Carleton would have introduced the salad to more of the public. It’s possible that the inclusion of thousand island dressing is also linked to the Ritz, since the hotel also introduced the complex dressing to New York. Diat’s recipe, while containing smoked ox tongue, still contains the primary Chef Salad ingredients; meat, eggs, greens and presentation: julienne sliced meat, sliced eggs, making it a good source for the modern salad. Several other early chef salad recipes mention crumbling Roquefort cheese over the salad.
The Chef Salad has a fairly tarnished image in the dining community. While some high-end restaurants still feature Chef Salad, its inclusion on fast food menus and its ubiquitous presence as the only entree salad served in small family-style restaurants gives it a decidedly blue collar feel. In this setting, the salad typically, though not exclusively, includes shredded cheddar cheese, sliced or cubed ham, and boiled eggs over a bed of iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber.
The advent of the salad bar has eliminated the chef salad from many menus, because the elements of the salad are offered on the bar.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
chef’s salad  n. a salad recommended by or associated with a particular chef; spec. a salad typically consisting of thin slices of meat, hard-boiled eggs, and lettuce, sometimes attributed to the French-American chef Louis Diat.
1931   Humboldt (Iowa) Independent 1 Dec. 5 (advt.)  June Peas in Natural Chef’s Salad.
19 January 1914, Ithaca (NY) Journal, pg. 3, col. 5 ad:
6 February 1914, Ithaca (NY) Journal, pg. 6, col. 6 ad:
Chef’s Salad—Tartar Sauce and Welsh Rarebit
3 March 1922, Piqua (OH) Daily Call, pg. 7, col. 1 ad:
Chef Salad Dressing large bottle..20c
(Plaza Grocery—ed.)
26 April 1928, Syracuse (NY) Herald, “Our Chef’s Salad” by A. Albert, pg. 25, col. 3:
The white center leaves of chicory broken in inch lengths, peeled, ripe tomato cut in small cubes, a small bunch of green, fresh watercress chopped very fine, two hard boiled eggs chopped in not too small pieces.
Mix thoroughly in French dressing and place in a large bowl lined with shredded lettuce.
Note:—On my way to the kitchen one day I found the above mixture in the center of our cook’s table, and being very friendly to salads (especially when made by others) I requested to be served a sample and this was done liberally. I must say it was most delicious; in fact, the composition of a real master and deserving of an appropriate name. I have been spying ever since at the chef’s table to discover a new recipe, as nothing but the best of everything enters into the food materials supplied to chef’s table. I simply cannot abstain from sampling the tasty salads I find at his table but, I forgot to mention, the chef’s salad bowl is generally rubbed with garlic.
30 July 1928, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Does William Penn Chef Let Wife Cook His Meals?.” pg. 13, col. 3:
... chef salad, with anchovies; ...
18 September 1928, Detroit (MI) Free Press, pg. 3, col. 6 ad:
Luncheon Specials Today
Fried Coney Island Scallops, Sauce Figaro, Chefs Salad
(Hotel Fort Shelby.—ed.)

28 October 1928, Lima (OH) News, “Chef to Reveal Cooking Method; Cincinnati Women To Hear Manner In Which Meals Are Best Prepared,” pg. 17, cols. 3-4:
Chef Fred K. Schmidt, chef of the Hotel Gibson here, and former chef of some of the greatest hostleries in the United States and in Europe, has selected ten of his favorite recipes to give to the WLW Woman’s Hour audience. Never before has he allowed anyone else to know the secrets of any of his dishes. Chef Schmidt was born in Cologne, Germany and learned to cook there in the kitchens of the Hotel DuNord. As chef at the Gibson, he feeds 6,000 diners every day.
The ten recipes to be given on Tuesday will be practical for home cooking and can be prepared in any kitchen. They will include German Pancake, Eggs Florentine, Chicken en Casserole, Spaghetti Gibson, Tomato Omelette, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chef Salad, Veal Steak Schmidt, Crazy Quilt Sandwich, and a dessert called Macaroon Omelette.
“The Chef Salad is one that famous European chefs first mixed for themselves and then decided to pass on to their patrons,” Chef Schmidt said.
29 March 1929, New York (NY) Times, pg. 6 ad:
Chef Salad
27 April 1929, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 3, col. 6:
Chef Salad
(Horn & Hardart.—ed.)
18 May 1929, New York (NY) Times, pg. 4 ad:
Special Chef Salad
(Again offered at Gimbels—ed.)
24 December 1931, Syracuse (NY) Herald, “Chef Salad Can be Made By Women Cooks, Too” by Nancy Page, pg. 8, col. 6:
The chef salad was a favorite in any town where fresh vegetables could be procured in the market in the winter time.
Nancy used large amounts of shredded lettuce, tomatoes peeled and cut into sixths, sliced cucumbers, sliced radishes, slivers of green peppers, wafer thing rings of mild onion, slices of hard cooked eggs.
She tossed these all together in the bowl and then dressed the salad with a modified French dressing. In making this she used oil, vinegar, salt, red pepper, paprika, a suspicion of sugar, anchovy essence and tinned anchovies. The salty anchovies gave a zest to the salad that was even more popular than the tang of garlic which Nancy always used in her garlic salad, made with vegetables and dressing flavored with garlic, just flavored, and that was all.
23 March 1932, Gettysburg (PA) Times, “Kitty Frew” by Jane Abbott, pg. 6, col. 1:
“You’ll like the Chef’s salad.”
30 March 1932, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 9 ad:
Chef Salad Bowl
(Adolphus Hotel—ed.)
23 December 1932, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 2B, col. 2 (photo story):
George Rector, whose renown as an epicure extends even to foreign lands is shown preparing Chef’s Salad, made of greens and French dressing. “Remember, one tablespoon of vinegar to four of oil,” cautions Mr. Rector.
5 April 1934, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. 2, col. 3 ad:
Special Chef Salad
(Manhattan Cafe—ed.)
8 April 1935, Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner, “Get On Greens As Spring Here” by Mary E. Dague, pg. 16, col. 6:
Think of all the iron, sulphur, phosphorus and what have you considered so essential to bodily growth contained in a fine mess of mustard greens, or a crisp chef’s salad (so-called because the most famous chefs make that kind for themselves) of chicory, escarole, endive, lettuce and romaine.
17 October 1935, Syracuse (NY) Herald, pg. 26, col. 4:
Four hard cooked eggs, 4 medium sized tomatoes, leaf lettuce, well-bleached chockory, French dressing.
Make a bed of lettuce in a shallow salad bowl. Over it arrange alternating slices of tomatoes and eggs cut in quarters. Fill in with chickory and serve with French dressing.
30 July 1936, Syracuse (NY) Herald, pg. 16, cols. 3-4:
A chef’s salad is any particular combination that a chef uses for his “specialty” (and upon which his “reputation depends”). In the larger hotel a trayful of the various ingredients…each cleaned and ready to use…is served to you and the salad is mixed in front of your eyes! (Dressing too!) In some cases, the salad is mixed by the chef before it is brought in, but in each case, the chef gives it his special touch…a certain combination, a special flavor, a “dash of this or that.” You too, homemaking “chef,” can have your own “specialty of the house!” Experiment until you find your specialty, then find fame by serving it on all occasions!
28 April 1937, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “International Kitchen” by Gladys Cronkite, pg. 14, col. 1:
Chef Salad
1/2 head (small) lettuce, broken in pieces
1/2 bunch watercress
1/4 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
10 radishes, sliced thin
cup celery, diced
1 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Few sprigs chicory
1 dozen rolled anchovy fillets
Few strips of thinly sliced Swiss or American cheese
French dressing
Rub salad bowl with garlic. Put all ingredients in bowl. Pour over just enough French dressing to coat greens. Toss lightly with wooden fork and spoon until well mixed. Serve thoroughly chilled!
21 May 1937, Titusville (PA) Herald, pg. 7, col. 5 ad:
Try a Chef Salad tonight—Pour this wonderful French dressing over it—It’s healthful and does it taste good!
(Red & White Food Stores—ed.)
17 July 1937, Denton (MD) Journal, “Household Hints” by Miss Betty Holloway, Home Economist, pg. 1, col. 7:
Chef’s Salad
1 head lettuce
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
4 spring onions
2 hearts of celery
2 hard cooked eggs
6 anchovies
French dressing
Chop all ingredients and chill thoroughly. When ready to serve, add seasoning and French dressing, adding a little at a time until well marinated. Mix carefully with fork. Serve in salad bowl garnished with watercress and radish roses. Serves 6.
31 July 1937, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 6 ad:
And Famous
(Club Cafe, 817 S. Ervay—ed.)
Google Books
My Sister Eileen
By Ruth McKenney
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World
Pg. 123:
About 12:10 PM that fatal Monday, Eileen staggered out of the kitchen with four chicken patty lunches complete with Chef’s Salad.
17 February 1938, Canandaigua (NY) Daily Messenger, pg. 5, col 5:
Submitted by
216 Chapin Street,
Canandaigua, N. Y.
1 head of curley endive.
1 stalk or bunch of Belgian endive.
1 head of Boston lettuce.
1 head of Iceberg lettuce.
1-4 pound of imported Swiss cheese, sliced, then cut stripes the size of small matches.
Chopped white of 1 hard boiled egg.
Taking the tenderest leaves of the endive and lettuce, cut them in fairly large pieces. Mix thoroughly through the greens, the chopped egg white and cheese. Chill.
1 recipe French dressing, with chopped yolk of 1 hard boiled egg, paprika and a clove of garlic. Remove the garlic before mixing the dressing through the salad just before serving.
9 March 1938, Chillicothe (MO) Constitution-Tribune, pg. 5, col. 3:
The preparation of tempting dishes for the table is a theme of a moving picture to be shown at the Ritz theatre Wednesday at 2:30 under the sponsorship of the Consumers Public Service company.
One that is sure to attract attention is the Chef Salad made of garden vegetables and garnished with cold meats.
1 April 1938, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Nancy Fools the Season With a Spring Salad” by Nancy Page, section 1, pg. 4:
The next salad that Nancy knew about is the one called “Chef Salad.” This calls for green salad leaves of the same sort as used in the tossed salad. But in addition there may be cooked peas, string beans, bits of cooked cauliflower, slices of hard-cooked eggs. This distinctive feature of this salad is the anchovy. Use curled anchovies put up in the small glass containers, or strips of smoked anchovies. Match-like strips of tongue may be put in as well as anchovies.
This salad is not dressed with a dressing that is too rich or oily. And after the dressing has been on for some time the lettuce and other parky greens are quite apt to be wilted. But that is to be expected, and is not a mistake.
When celery is in season it may be added in the form of small crosswise slices. The stalks are washed and drained and then cut with a sharp knife.
Chef salad may use definite pieces of garlic or, as in the earlier salads mentioned, the cut clove may be rubbed over the inner surface of the salad bowl. Some people bury a cut garlic clove into a small piece of bread, saturate this well with French dressing and bury the bread in the depths of the green salad.
September 1938, International Steward, pg. 12, col. 1:
The Ever Popular Chef’s Salad
There are so many conceptions of Chef’s salad, some so very poor and others so delightful. The salad was originally served on the Cook’s table, long before the introduction of substitute salad oils. It was a bowl of all seasonable salad greens, mixed generously with pure olive oil, seasoned slightly with salt and freshly ground pepper, a dash of wine vinegar and sometimeschopped egg and heels of bread rubbed with garlic. It must always be made up fresh and served as soon as mixed. Its appeal can be improved with ocassionally (sic) garnishing it with fresh Gulf Shrimp, Sardines, Anchovies, and as a plate salad with a variety of finger sandwiches.
Google Books
Where to Dine in Thirty-nine:
A Guide to New York Restaurants, to which There is Added a Cook Book of Recipes by Famous Chefs

Compiled by Diana Ashley
New York, NY: Crown Publishers
Pg. 99:
CHEF’S RECIPE: SPECIAL CHEF’S SALAD. Andre Calatayud, Chef de cuisine.
1 head lettuce, 10 stems watercress, 1 section garlic, 1 breast of chicken (cooked),
27 March 1939, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “More Chefs’ Secrets Revealed for Today’s Menu” by Marian Manners, pg. A7:
Pull leaves from two medium sized heads of lettuce and remove heavy center veins. Chop three hearts celery finely with one bunch each of watercress and chicory. Add one cup diced baked ham. Peel and quarter three tomatoes. Rub bowl with cut garlic and make French dressing by beating together juice of one lemon, one-half cup olive oil and one-half teaspoon mixed vegetable salts. Toss greens in bowl with dressing with other ingredients.  Garnish with sliced hard-cooked eggs and parsley and serve in bowl. Serves six for dinner or four for luncheon.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, December 25, 2008 • Permalink

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