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Classic Caesar Salad – Mad Men Style

Caesar Salad with Shaved Parmesan

Whenever I watch Mad Men, I wish I could be transported back in time to the New York City restaurants featured on the show. Of course, many of them are still open and thriving, and NY Eater has indexed them beautifully, here. But alas, I live in San Fracisco, and my time machine is in the shop, so I am reduced to trying to recreate the recipes of the day here at home.

I worked at a restaurant in the early eighties that made Caesar Salad table-side. It’s definitely food as theater when the waiter cracks the egg over the salad and mixes it in or lifts his arm high in the air to drizzle in the olive oil. Entertain your family at home with a similar preparation. It was in Season 1, episode 2 (The Ladies’ Room) that Betty and Don Draper dine with Roger Sterling at the restaurant Toots Shor, where a Caesar Salad is prepared table-side. Also in Season 3, Episode 4 (The Arrangements), Pete Campbell, Don Draper, and a potential client, Horace “Hoho” Cook dine at Keen’s where Caesar Salads are prepared table side even today.

Betty and Don Draper at Dinner
Betty and Don Draper at Dinner

Nowadays, people are a little spooked by the raw egg mixed into the dressing, but I’m someone who has eaten raw cookie dough my whole life and never -knock on wood – suffered from salmonella poisoning. This Caesar Salad recipe also calls for a coddled egg (boiled in rapidly boiling water for 40 seconds) which may comfort those who are nervous. The US Department of Agriculture measures the risk encountering a contaminated at 1 in 30,000. Coddling doesn’t quite bring the temperature of the egg to the 160˚F required to kill the bacteria, but it makes for a creamier dressing.

And what about anchovies? They weren’t a part of the orginial Caesar Cardini salad recipe, so I haven’t included them here, but if you want to add them in, just chop a few of them finely to mix into the dressing and then garnish with a few more on top.

For more about the food of Mad Men, check out The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, available at

Watch Mad Men on AMC, Sundays at 10/9c.

Caesar Salad
Serves 2-4


1 clove garlic crushed
1 egg yolk that has been coddled (boil in rapidly boing water for 40 seconds)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper

2 heads romaine lettuce
Great croutons (if you have to make them yourself, toast cubed bread in olive oil and minced garlic until golden brown).


1. In a large wooden bowl, spread the crushed garlic around. Crack a coddled egg into the bowl. Add mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce and salt. Beat with a fork. Pour the oil in a steady slow stream while continuing to beat the mixture. Tear the lettuce into the bowl and toss. Grind fresh pepper on top. Add the croutons and freshly shaved Parmesan. Toss and transfer to plates. Then shave additional Parmesan on top.

Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad
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