In honor of the 90th Academy Awards, it's time to celebrate the Oscars. There will be an estimated 30+ million people watching, entertaining + celebrating the Oscar's this Sunday. But there is another noteworthy Oscar that has been celebrated at many Waldorf parties, and would be welcomed winner in the top food category.


Oscars Award Banquet, 1940, The Ambassador Hotel

Oscar Tschirky, maître d’hôtel of Delmonico’s Restaurant and the Waldorf Astoria in NYC is known as the creator of such popular classic dishes as Waldorf Salad, Veal Oscar, Eggs Benedict and Thousand Island Dressing. It may just be the name implies thousands of recipes - for this dressing, and rumors abound as to the true creator. I can assure you it was not Kraft or Wish-Bone though. This is the story I believe to be true or Oscar of The Waldorf has the best PR agency ever!

At the turn of the century, self-made multi-millionaire and hotel magnate George C. Boldt, (I have my own Thousand Island story, but it doesn’t involve dressing, so it will have to wait) owner of the New York City's Waldorf Astoria enjoyed vacationing in the 1000 Islands. Mr. Boldt and his wife Louise enjoyed this area of the St. Lawrence River region so much so that George had Boldt Castle built for his wife. Nice guy. He would entertain many wealthy friends and business associates on the island.  

Many times Oscar accompanied Mr. Boldt on his trips to the 1000 Islands and to George Boldt's Castle. On one trip aboard the yacht, Oscar improvised with the ingredients he had aboard the yacht, and concocted the dressing for which the region is now known for around the globe. Afterwards, Mr. Boldt started serving the dressing at his hotels.


The wide appeal of this dressing has gone far beyond elegant salads served aboard yachts on the St. Lawrence River. Burger joints have topped their meat patties for years with this special sauce - remember that jingle? Then there’s of course my preferred In-N-Out-Burgers, where all burgers come standard with Thousand Island dressing. BTW, a secret menu item called "Animal Style"; fries come with Thousand Island Dressing in addition to grilled onions and melted cheese. But when I hear Thousand Island Dressing I think of a dish with a little more of a classical take; like the topping on a Dungeness Crab or Shrimp Louis. I am sure that would make Oscar smile!  


Could this be Oscar’s classic Thousand Island Dressing Recipe? It just might be...

Take one cup mayonnaise dressing, mix, with one-half cup whipped cream, add small amount of Tarragon vinegar, one-half teaspoonful of Imperial Sauce, then chop one hard boiled egg, one green pepper, one pimento, one pinch chives, mix well together and squeeze the juice of one lemon before serving. This sauce can be served with any kind of salad."

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I'm not talking Deborah Harry's iconic rock band of the 70's, or the American comic strip featuring Dagwood's wife, but the confection with close ties to the popular brownie. The brownie derives its character from a deep rich cocoa base for the chocolate flavor, a blondie's flavor is butterscotch-like, based on a high quantity of butter and brown sugar in the recipe. 

Know Your Cookie:

A blondie is considered a sheet cookie as it's soft batter spreads across sheet like pan to bake. Other types of sheet cookies would include brownies and rainbow cookies. After sheet cookies are baked they are cooled and can be cut into squares, rectangles or any other shapes. 



Makes 12-18 Blondies 

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

1 1/2 cups semisweet chopped chocolate pieces; or chocolate, or butterscotch chips

Optional: 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt well. Set aside.

Cream butter in a mixing bowl until light and flufly. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, cream on high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

On a low speed add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stopping machine to scrape down the bowl well after each addition. On a low speed add flour  to the butter mixture and mix just until flour is absorbed. Do not over mix. 

By hand, fold the pecans and chocolate in with a rubber spatula.

Optional: if using coconut; mix 3/4 of coconut with pecans and chocolate. 

Using a spatula, spread the batter into baking pan making sure the batter is spread evenly and smooth. If using coconut sprinkle extra on top of the batter. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. caution to not over bake. Blondies are baked when cookie springs back when pressed lightly with your finger or a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2 hours and cut the blondies into rectangle or square pieces.

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At the Waldorf

This is one of the sides that brings me right back to my humble days of early chef-dom - a very classical and very good Waldorf Salad.


Waldorf-Astoria Hotel c1899

A bit behind the salad history: Oscar Tschirky, who was maître d’hôtel at the Waldorf Hotel in NYC is credited with creating this recipe in the 1890’s, as well as many other recipes. Veal Oscar anyone? I'll save that for another post.

The Waldorf Salad is simply apples, celery and mayonnaise served on a lettuce leaf. But, that’s where it all begins. Walnuts became a common addition years later, as did grapes, other dried fruit such raisins, apricots and sultana. My friend Tony even opted to add the fore mentioned and cut the mayo with good Greek yogurt; which is very refreshing and lighter than all mayo or a combo mayo & unsweetened whipped cream. 


Things have changed since the 1890s, so go ahead and put your own spin on the Waldorf, Oscar won’t mind. Use culinary license, prepare it with apples and toasted nuts; cut the mayo, even sub with today’s olive oil mayo, which I prefer. Serve some grilled chicken or shrimp on the side and you are talking a healthy main dish. 

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