Eggs Benedict, which continues to reign as one of the world’s most beloved dishes, was the result of a collaboration between Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street broker and regular Waldorf patron, and Oscar Tschirky. In 1894, after a night celebrating with friends, Benedict ordered “some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a pitcher of Hollandaise sauce.”
The tart yet creamy Hollandaise sauce, the silky richness of which clings to the eggs and coats the stomach, was the perfect morning soother. Tschirky was impressed and wanted to put an even better version on the Waldorf menu. He named it Eggs Benedict and substituted ham and a toasted English muffin.
Eggs Benedict is famous today due to the combination of Lemuel’s order, Tschirky’s promotion, and the old Waldorf restaurant’s popularity and prestige, a fact that was confirmed in a 1942 interview New Yorker magazine conducted with Lemuel Benedict. We serve the now-classic version with lightly grilled Canadian bacon, which provides a hint of smoky salt in the mouth. When eaten, the perfectly poached eggs break open and spill their golden yolks, blending with the velvety Hollandaise and providing the third and final essential taste that makes this dish a classic.
“THE FASHION OF NEW YORK, THE MECCA OF VISITORS FROM MANY NATIONS, BECAUSE NOWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD HAS ANY HOTEL COME TO PLAY SO IMPORTANT A PART IN THE SOCIAL LIFE OF A GREAT CITY”. -HARPER’S BAZAAR, 1896
OSCAR TSCHIRKY, “OSCAR OF THE WALDORF
The affable Oscar Tschirky, maître d’ and unofficial ambassador of the Waldorf Astoria for fifty years, became as much a New York institution as the hotel itself. His name is permanently associated with the preparation of epicurean foods and the art of fine dining.
Oscar’s talent also lay in befriending guests and cultivating relationships, becoming a confidant and guide in the enjoyment of fine dining, and in the delicate and successful management of the hundreds of personalities and temperaments in the food service real of the hotel.