Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Salad a la Marty

As we have pointed out to you in the past, Marty Lipton’s innovations are not relegated to the boardroom. For example, we have come to learn that Marty Lipton is single handedly responsible for innovating a number of otherwise ordinary dishes into culinary wonders. Take for example the Caesar salad: a commonplace, dare we say bland, mix of romaine lettuce, croutons, anchovy paste, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, black pepper, olive oil, and Worchester sauce. While we are certainly not suggesting that Marty Lipton invented this culinary Chernobyl, he certainly took it from the back alleys of Tijuana, Mexico, to the forefront of America’s gastronomic sensibility.

Along with bullfights, coke mules, ubiquitous pharmacies selling cheap grey market pharmaceuticals, and the donkey show (this is apparently an off Broadway “musical” that features live animals on stage), Tijuana, Mexico is credited with being the birthplace of the Caesar salad. More specifically, the Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini, a successful restaurateur and prohibition era “tequila runner” (Cardini is often credited as being the Mexican Al Capone). During the height of prohibition, alcohol deprived co-eds would cross the border for the sole purpose of enjoying a libation and a free salad at one of Cardini’s numerous theme restaurants, including famed spring break hotspot, Carlos N Charlie’s.

Though, the Caesar salad enjoyed mild popularity in the United States during the 1960s (due in part to the boom of Mexican restaurants), the fad had all but died out by the early 70s. Some say the market was just oversaturated with salads. Others opine that the Caesar was simply boring and uninspired. In 1982, the Caesar salad was given a jumpstart by none other than famed corporate whiz kid, Marty Lipton.

One afternoon, while taking clients to lunch at Midtown power scene, Ben Benson’s Steakhouse, Marty Lipton regaled the lunch crowd with witty one liners, sight gags and Joe Flom anecdotes. Never being the one to shy away from theatrics, Lipton topped even himself by ordering a Caesar salad…prepared tableside! That’s right, Lipton transformed a dull and drab salad into a three ring circus. It was a meal and a show all rolled into one.

Lipton proceeded to dazzle the crowd by preparing the salad right before their very eyes. Warming up the crowd, Lipton added the crunchy romaine to a large metallic mixing bowl. The crowd looked on as he added the dressing’s ingredients to the bowl. But wait, there’s more! After sprinkling the salad with parmesan cheese, some freshly ground pepper, and a dash of Tabasco sauce, Lipton brought the crowd to their feet by tossing the salad.

Lipton’s high octane hyjinks, a Caesar salad prepared tableside, became quite the rage amongst New York’s Upper East Side society set. Walk into any Michelin star restaurant during the 1980s and you couldn’t blink without seeing someone order a Caesar salad prepared tableside, a Salad a la Marty to those in the know.

In 1984, Lipton jazzed up the Salad a la Marty by ordering it with grilled chicken on top. That’s right, grilled chicken!
So there you have it. Not only did Lipton invent the poison pill, he invented the Caesar salad served tableside as well as the Caesar salad with grilled chicken.

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