The beauty of witnessing the preparation of a Caesar Salad tableside by a master with all of the ingredients presented on a specially designed cart is without equal. Lorin Smith, co-owner of the fabulous Dal Rae restaurant in Pico Rivera, California is a true master.
Established in 1958, the Dal Rae is hands-down my favorite fine dining restaurant in Southern California. It is located in the obscure city of Pico Rivera, which is actually just 20 minutes east of downtown Los Angeles. We’ve been enjoying their cocktails, Lobster Thermidor (my choice without fail), tableside Steak Diane, and tableside Cherries Jubilee (or Bananas Foster) since 1994. But it’s their Caesar Salad that is the glory of the Dal Rae.
The Caesar Salad was invented by Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico in 1924. Cardini had originally operated a restaurant in San Diego, California, but relocated to Tijuana with the advent of Prohibition. Like many restaurateurs, Cardini believed a fine meal on-the-town required cocktails before dinner and wine with dinner. In Tijuana, he could offer both.
According to Caesar’s daughter Rosa, her father invented the dish when a Fourth of July 1924 rush depleted the kitchen’s supplies. Cardini made do with what he had, adding the dramatic flair of the tableside tossing “by the chef.” Whether or not this is actually the salad’s origin, the result is the most spectacular salad in the world.
Watch this 3-minute video of Lorin Smith preparing Caesar Salad tableside. Genius. Pure genius.