How The Cobb Salad Was Born in Brooklyn

How The Cobb Salad Was Born in Brooklyn

The Remarkable Creation of the Cobb Salad!

Well, it starts at our very own Hotel St. George in 1936!   The hotel’s world-famous chef, Ennis Shalit (yes, the uncle of beloved movie critic Gene Shalit!) was playin’ around with some leftovers in the kitchen, and he came up with the idea of mixing some meat with some greens!

He liked where this was going, and he topped it off with a vinaigrette-based dressing he had previously concocted for another salad popular at the hotel, The Luscious Lehman (named for the then-governor of New York — unfortunately, the recipe for that specialty has been lost to history, but apparently bacon-wrapped scallops were involved!  Yum!).

Now, ol’ Ennis was a history buff (later in his life, he authored a biography of Willem Verhulst, the second governor of Dutch New Amsterdam), and upon seeing the finished salad, he commented, “Sure tastes good, but it looks like a bloody mess!  It reminds me of Colonel DeKalb after he was bayoneted by the British at the Battle of Camden.”

A few days later, Shalit’s brand new DeKalb Salad went on sale in the Hotel’s world-famous Pineapple Street Café.  It was a big hit!  People came from as far away as Albany and Trenton to try the new culinary creation!

But when they ordered Shalit’s creation, waitresses (including a young actress named Joyce Randolph, later to be Brooklyn’s much beloved Trixie Norton!) would write down the name of the salad wrong; even if the menu said “DeKalb Salad”, the wait staff would hear patrons sayin’ “Gimme de Cobb salad,” and that’s what they would write down on their order pads!  Under the old adage that the customer is always right, only eight weeks after the DeKalb Salad went on sale, the Café’s owners, over Shalit’s fierce, even violent objections, renamed the dish The Cobb Salad.  And that’s how a much-beloved dish, famous all over the world, was born! Check out the Brooklyn museums here.

There’s a funny footnote to this story: In 1956, Shalit published his biography of Verhulst, but due to certain insinuations he made in the book about the character of Peter Stuyvesant (the 7th Dutch governor of ol’ Manhattan), Dutch Peter’s descendants sued the pants off of Ennis, and they won!  Ennis Shalit died a bitter, broken man in a Bowery flophouse in 1964. Read more on Brooklyn History in this post.

And now, THE THREE-DOT ROUNDUP!  Very excited to see that the Heights’ own Paul Giamatti will be starring in The Mario Biaggi Story…When I hear the words ‘Super Bowl’, I only picture one man, and his name is Joe Willie Namath…If you’re a fan of old-timey radio (like me!) and a fan of Brooklyn 99 (like me!), you might remember a show on the CBS Radio Network called 21st Precinct, starring the immortal Edward Everett Sloane …Speaking of ol’ E.E. Sloane, how many actors can YOU name that starred in films directed by BOTH Orson Welles and Jerry Lewis?

Sloane was lensed by big Orson in Citizen Kane and the King of Comedy in The Patsy…A recent poll by the BLGBBCCTVAS (the Brooklyn Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Bi-Curious Classic TV Appreciation Society) named Lost In Space’s Dr. Zachary Smith the gayest fictional character in TV history…On January 28, Community Board 3 in Manhattan voted NOT to rename a street corner on the Lower East Side after our very own Beastie Boys, and I, for one, think that’s bullspit!  Out here in the Heights, we happily renamed a park after our “homie” Adam Yauch…AND THAT’S WHY I LOVE LIVING IN BROOKLYN!