Saturday, October 11, 2008

As Thousands Cheer

There is a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles called Philippe’s – The Original. As of last week it has been around for one hundred years. Yes, you read that right, in a town where some restaurants can’t seem to stay open longer past their first six months this joint just celebrated it’s 100th anniversary! Now that’s an accomplishment. What’s even better is that Philippe’s is the birthplace of the French Dip. The French Dip! This sandwich was of course created by accident when the chef/owner Philippe Mathieu was making an order for a fireman who accused him of serving stale bread. The Chef dropped the bread in the meat drippings, gave it back to the fireman and said “You happy now?” The fireman ate it, and brought back ten of his co-workers and as they say, the rest is history..

The name comes from Mathieu being from France, and people would ask for Frenchy’s Sandwich, which became The French Dip. Now 100 years later, Phillipe’s is still going strong and is a perennial favorite in the city. The best seller is the beef dip, but they also have lamb, pork, turkey and ham versions as well. Many of the employees have worked there for more than twenty years, and the owner still has to check the gravy and the dressing when a chef is on vacation or is sick. He is still teaching some of the secrets to the head chef whom he calls “the new guy,” who has been the head chef since 1981. It is refreshingly old school – it serves pickled hard boiled eggs, pickled radishes and pickled pigs feet. Apparently they sell more than three-hundred pounds of the pickled stuff every week. Last week for the anniversary, they decided to go back to the original prices. The sandwiches that are normally priced at $5.35 we ten cents from 4pm to 8pm that day! Needless to say, thousands of people showed up and the line to get served not only went around the building but went down the street as well. That is serious love.

Other restaurants have claimed that they invented the French Dip, but not one of them is still open for business. A celebrity chef is reopening and re-imagining Philippe’s competition’s version of the French Dip and they want it to be as good as the original. For the record, Phillipe’s has never had to “re-imagine” the French Dip. They got it right the first time and have never had to change it in 100 years. My hat is off to Philippe’s – The Original, congratulations on a fantastic achievement! And here’s to another Hundred Years!

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