Chicken A La King, Once The Food Staple Of New York’s Elite, A Brighton Beach Invention

The Brighton Beach Hotel, birth scene of Chicken a la King.

An interesting column in Capital New York delves into the history of the once great culinary classic that defined an era of fine dining in New York City over 100 years ago, a history that has its roots in Brighton Beach.

Chicken a la king, a dish that’s a mix of mushrooms, peppers, diced chicken, and creamy sauce over toast, was the number one dish for haughty New Yorkers obsessed with all things French.

Legend has it that the dish was created in honor of E. Clara King II, owner of the Brighton Beach Hotel in the early 1900s, then one of the fanciest resort destinations for rich Manhattanites looking for fun and sun. King and his wife were blown away by the dish, and the next day it appeared as a regular item on the hotel’s menu before spreading across the city as a menu staple for decades.

The dish got so popular that it morphed into a wedding and banquet hall staple, before being relegated to a cheap TV dinner, losing all of the mystique and panache the dish enjoyed for years. Like Elvis, the King had died (as a popular restaurant choice, anyway) by the late 70s.


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