The Expert: Tony Tammero
Cred: Vice President of Culinary Operations, The Palm
The rigors of the Caesar set a high standard for restaurants to probably not live up to, especially busy restaurants. Back in 1973, Tony Tammero figured out a way for the rapidly expanding Palm to more efficiently make the famed salad without compromising quality -- and they’re still using that method to this day.
Here’s how the average hack is failing to follow Tammero’s guidelines:
- They don’t use quality ingredients, the most important being Reggiano Parmesan cheese -- nothing else will do if you want max flavor. Fresh, unpasteurized eggs also make a world of difference when it comes to taste, but we’ll come back to that.
- They take shortcuts. Garlic and anchovies are key ingredients, but they are to be tasted, not seen (so, mincing = bad; commercial grade food processors = good). Some places even use mayonnaise as a base or swap out the Tobasco for white vinegar. For shame.
- They don’t understand the subtlety of the ingredients. Pure olive oil is right. Extra virgin is wrong -- too pungent. Romaine hearts are right. The greens are wrong -- too weak for the weight of the dressing.
- Their assembly’s improper. You’ve got to start with cold, crisp, sturdy Romaine hearts. Next, add croutons and THEN dress the salad. Once the leaves are evenly coated, plate it, then add the Reggiano so it doesn’t end up on the bottom of the dish. It’s also best to work in small batches if possible, never making more than two salads at once in the same bowl.
- They under-dress. It’s not all their fault: So many customers ask for less fattening, “lightly dressed” salads it’s become policy at many spots -- but not at The Palm, where you can have your Caesar dressed their way, or get a dry salad with dressing on the side.
What to ask your server: “Do you use unpasteurized eggs?”
If yes, you know the place is serious. Unfortunately, it’s not fool-proof because some cities’ health codes prohibit using unpasteurized eggs. Also, some places let their customers’ fear of salmonella play Brutus to a properly egged Caesar. This makes Tony sad.