The warm, gooey goodness of eggs Benedict is fantastic at any time of day. The combination of a poached egg, ham or bacon, and a toasted English muffin that is covered in Hollandaise sauce is like heaven on a plate. There are actually some different stories that exist about who actually invented this dish, as there are with many famous dishes in the world today. Let’s take a look at some of the accounts of how eggs Benedict were invented.
Was It the Creation of a Wall Street Broker?
The year is 1894. A Wall Street broker is hungry for breakfast, so he wanders into the Waldorf Hotel to order something to eat. He’s retired, but still loves to interact with the business world. His name is Lemuel Benedict and he’s also got one major problem on his hands: he has one massive hangover. To solve this headache, he orders the highest calorie items on the menu into one dish. That just happened to be buttered toast, crisp bacon, poached eggs, and lots of Hollandaise sauce.
The dish turned out so great that Oscar Tschirky, who was the the maitre d’hotel, put the dish on the menu, but then substituted ham for the bacon and an English muffin for the toast because it could stand up to the sauce better. This account was published in 1942 in The New Yorker.
Tschirky was on staff at Delmonico’s, however, right around the time of this story’s account. The chef of Delmonico’s at the time was Charles Ranhofer, who is famous in his own right for publishing cookbook that had over 1,000 pages to it. He invented a number of dishes at Delmonico’s, including many that were created for high profile celebrities and politicians at the time, including Lobster Newberg. There is a claim that he made the initial eggs Benedict as well.
Did Commodore Benedict Actually Invent This Dish?
Commodore E.C. Benedict, or Elias to his friends, was a banker and a yachtsman based out of New York City. He held the title even though he didn’t serve in the military, and was born in 1834. A man named Edward Montgomery began campaigning through the New York Times that he had received a recipe from the commodore that pre-dated any other eggs Benedict recipe that was known at the time. Having gotten the recipe from his uncle, it actually requires a hard-cooked egg instead of a poached egg.
So who is actually responsible for the invention of eggs Benedict? No one is really going to be able to know for sure today unless new evidence comes from somewhere. In the meantime, grab some eggs, make some Hollandaise sauce, and fry up some ham or bacon so that you can enjoy this wonderful masterpiece of human inventiveness in the culinary pleasures.
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