I’m almost certain the first salad I ever ate was a Waldorf salad. The combination of apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts over a bed of lettuce doused in a mayo-based dressing could hardly be called a “healthy” salad, but it was a salad nonetheless. It was delicious, causing me to wonder, “Who was Waldorf? Where is he now?” After all, other salads have been named after people. The Caesar salad, for example, was named after Caesar Cardini (NOT Julius Caesar), an Italian immigrant who created the salad on a whim in his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico in the 1920s.
I discovered today that the Waldorf salad was not named after a man (or a woman, for that matter), but a hotel, the Waldorf Hotel in New York City to be exact. The Waldorf Hotel, precursor to the Waldorf-Astoria, was a grand place where a man named Oscar Tschirky was the maître d’hôtel. It turns out Oscar created or inspired a fair number of dishes in the hotel’s restaurant, including the Waldorf salad sometime between 1893 and 1896. Perhaps Oscar should have debated the name of the salad a little more fervently, although the “Tschirky salad” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
The Waldorf salad has gained popularity in America since then and the original recipe has not changed much, although there are many variations. Just type in “Waldorf salad” in the search bar on our site and you’ll see over 45 different results. I haven’t seen one on a menu in a while, but I say it’s about time we bring it back! Check out a few more of our Waldorf-inspired recipes: