Diner Chef Salad at Gunther Toody's.

Diner Chef Salad at Gunther Toody’s.

While a salad may not be the most popular item on a diner menu, plenty of people today order them, especially the Chef Salad. This mixture of meat, hard-boiled egg, veggies and cheese has been a staple on restaurant menus for many years and is arguably the first of its kind to popularize the category of hearty, main-dish style salads.

The origin of this dish is debated by food historians. But there are three chefs who served similar types of salads at their hotel restaurants; Victor Seydoux of the Hotel Buffalo in the 1930s, Louis Diat of the New York City Ritz-Carlton in the 1940s, and Jacques Roser of New York City’s Hotel Pennsylvania.

Diat’s chef salad consisted of boiled chicken, smoked ox tongue, ham, and hard-boiled eggs served on lettuce and watercress with French dressing. Other food historians believe the salad has its roots in Salmagundi, a dish from 17th century England that made up of cooked meats, vegetables, fruit, leaves, and nuts.

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