The real Waldorf Salad is the creation of the maitre de’ of the Waldorf Astoria on Manhattan in New York City, Oscar Tschirky who was considered to be one of the most famous chefs of his time though he was never a professional chef and did not do the cooking for the hotel. He did come up with some very tasty dishes and condiments to go with them and was very creative in their presentation, sharing his ideas with the chefs at the time as well as creating his own dishes that he served to dinner guest in his home, some of whom were his chef coworkers who snagged the recipes and took them back to the restaurant with them adding their own personal touch as they placed the item on the menu.
A maitre de is the chief waiter or host who takes and checks dinner reservations, seats guest who have come to dine, supervises the rest of the wait staff and is responsible for much of the tableside service. Their job has very little to do with the actual meal preparation though some like Oscar Tschirky have had a good bit of input into the menu and its overall creation. Most work very closely with the restaurant chefs in creating a dining experience that will please each and every person who dines at their establishment.
The Waldorf Astoria was one of the largest, most luxurious, greatest and finest hotels in America in the late 1800’s and still is among the greatest of them all. The Waldorf is not only a great place to stay, it is a marvelous place to dine and you will always find Waldorf Salad on the menu. It has been there for over 100 years, made fresh daily of course. As a side note, Oscar Tschirky is also noted as the creator of Eggs Benedict and Thousand Island Salad Dressing and a whole array of marvelous menus that have set the pattern for fine dining, especially here in America but his most famous creation is the simplest of all, the Waldorf Salad in its original form.
The Waldorf Salad became an instant hit with the guest of the hotel and before long was copied with various twist by other restaurants and in the homes of the elite and then the general public as well. Everyone loves the Waldorf.
It is a cool and refreshing summer salad as well as a choice delight on many salad bars and buffets in most restaurants today. The Waldorf Salad is about as simple a salad as you can make and is enjoyed by both children and adults everywhere.
The original recipe for Waldorf salad had only 3 ingredients, apples, celery and mayonnaise served on a bed of salad greens and garnished with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Today there are many variations of this same recipe, the most popular containing sliced grapes or raisins and walnuts in the salad, not just as a garnish. Other ingredients have also been added such as tuna or chicken or turkey, crumbled, crisp fried bacon, pineapple, mango, papaya, dates and other berries like raspberry, blueberry or strawberry and the salad greens of choice. They are all called “waldorf” but they are “waldorf” with a twist. Ah indeed, is not this how many a great entrée, salad, soup or dessert is created? It all begins with the fresh idea of one and in the case of the Waldorf Salad, one Oscar Tschirky.
Oscar Tschirky’s Waldorf Salad
In a small bowl combine and whip to blend
6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Cover and place on ice to chill (put it in the refrigerator)
In a mixing bowl combine
2 cups cored and coarsely diced red tart apples (like McIntosh) do not peel
1 cup thinly sliced celery
Toss together and gently mix in the chilled mayonnaise mixture until the
apples and celery are well coated.
Arrange apple mixture on a bed of Boston lettuce on individual salad plates
and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.
This is the way Oscar made it and it is simply delicious. It wasn’t long before the Waldorf added sliced red grapes and added the nuts into the salad rather than simple as a garnish. Soon someone changed the grapes to raisins and then the raisins to chopped dates and the salad greens became mixed and varied and they all became Waldorf Salad with a twist.
This recipe nicely serves 4 to 6 people and is a marvelous appetizer before any main meal you plan to serve. When I am making my own Waldorf Salad I do add the sliced red grapes (1 cup sliced seedless grapes) and I use the coarsely chopped walnuts as garnish. This makes it a genuine Waldorf Salad; Oscar Tschirky’s original recipe plus the chef of the Waldorf Astoria’s addition of the sliced grapes.
It is as eye appealing as it is tongue tantalizing and it compliments just about anything else you choose to serve.