The origin of 1000 Island Dressing is related to George Boldt, one-time manager of the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, and owner of the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia.
At the turn of the century, whenever Mr. Boldt was not busy managing one of his luxurious hotels, he enjoyed vacationing in the 1000 Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.
Occasionally, while Mr. Boldt was on vacation, Oscar Tschirky attended to matters at the Waldorf-Astoria. Best known as “Oscar of the Waldorf,” he served as maitre d’hotel and official greeter of presidents, dignitaries, and visiting nobility.
Oscar was a hard-working, obedient, and modest man. He was the first person hired for the elegant Waldorf Hotel, and soon became Mr. Boldt’s confidant. Oscar’s attention to practicalities helped counter Mr. Boldt’s fancies and create one of the most elegant, successful hotels in the nation. But when food was involved, Oscar’s fancies prevailed.
Many times Oscar accompanied Mr. Boldt on his trips to the 1000 Islands and to Mr. Boldt’s beloved castle in Alexandria Bay. Legend has it that while on one such vacation in the 1000 Islands, aboard his yacht ‘Louise’, (named after Mrs. Boldt) George Boldt’s steward, Oscar Tschirky, discovered that the noon meal’s salad fixings had been left sitting on the dock.
Improvising with the ingredients he had on board the yacht, the steward quickly concocted the tasty dressing for which the region is now very well-known around the nation and the world.
Thousand Island Dressing typically consists of chili sauce, mayonnaise, and chopped vegetables such as green olives, onions, pickles and/or bell-peppers; hard-boiled eggs are also a frequent ingredient.
George Boldt liked the dressing so well that he soon started serving it at his hotels and its popularity quickly soared. It was called 1000 Island Dressing in honor of the beautiful area where it was first prepared.
Oscar’s fame as a chef (which he was not, although mistakenly thought to be by many) became widespread not only because of 1000 Islands Dressing, but also such other innovative and improbable creations as Waldorf Salad and Veal Oscar.
Oscar was such a loyal and talented maitre d’hotel that in 1912 Mr. Boldt offered him the opportunity to be manager of the Waldorf. Oscar gracefully declined, explaining that he was content as, and wanted to remain, “Oscar of the Waldorf.”
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The Dressing Recipe: Here are two versions of the recipe:
Ingredients: 1/4 cup chopped pimientos, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup chopped pickles, 1/3 cup chopped green olives, 1 tsp grated onion, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 chopped hard cooked eggs. Method: Combine ingredients in a bowl and add vinegar to taste if desired. Stir and refrigerate. makes approximately 2 cups of dressing.
Ingredients: 1 quart mayonnaise, 1/2 cup chopped olives, 3/4 cup relish, 1/4 cup vinegar, 3 hardboiled eggs (chopped), 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, dash of ground cloves, 1/2 cup diced red pepper, 1 tsp sugar. Method: Combine ingredients in a bowl and add vinegar to taste. Stir and refrigerate