The Original Brown Derby's Cobb Salad and Dressing Recipe

The Brown Derby was a landmark restaurant in Los Angeles frequented by celebrities during the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was an example of novelty architecture, known for being physically shaped like a brown derby hat.

It was the first restaurant to serve chiffon cake, a soon-to-be famous recipe invented by insurance salesman Harry Baker and later picked up by Betty Crocker.

The single greatest legacy recipe of the Brown Derby is the Cobb Salad. It was invented by and named after Bob Cobb, one of the owners of the Brown Derby. According to Bob's wife Sally, Bob basically raided the fridge late one night at the restaurant and chopped up some left-overs for his dinner. Some of his Hollywood friends, including Jack Warner, Sid Grauman, Wilson Mizner, and Gene Fowler stopped by the restaurant that night and, curious about Bob's creation, joined him. They then began to ask for it on later visits, and the rest was history.

The first Brown Derby, also known as the Little Hat, was opened in February 1926 across the street from the Ambassador Hotel. The Derby was often the site of afterparties following bashes at the Ambassador Hotel's Cocoanut Grove nightclub. This was the only Derby that was actually built in the shape of a hat. In 1937, it was moved one block up the street.

A second Brown Derby opened at 1628 Vine Street, near Hollywood and Vine on Valentine's Day, 1929. In 1942 MGM film star Ruth Hussey first met her talent agent husband Bob Longenecker at lunch there. Other Derbies were later built in Beverly Hills (across from the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel on Wilshire and Rodeo) and in East Hollywood (also known as Los Feliz) at Los Feliz Boulevard and Hillhurst. The Los Feliz Derby had a "car café" which emulated the then-new "drive-in" trend.

The Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby today

The Hollywood Derby closed in 1985, shortly followed by the original location's closure. The shell of the Brown Derby was restored and placed on top of the strip mall that took its spot at 3377 Wilshire Boulevard. It is now painted orange and home to Buzz.

There is a re-created Hollywood Brown Derby at the Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Another recreation of the Hollywood Brown Derby is currently being constructed in Albany, New York. (

In "L. A. At Last", the first of the Hollywood episodes of "I Love Lucy", Lucy (Lucille Ball), Ethel (Vivian Vance), and Fred (William Frawley) have lunch at the Brown Derby. During the misadventure, the trio dines in a booth neighbored by Eve Arden on one side and William Holden on the other. This leads to the famous disaster scene in which Lucy inadvertently causes a waiter to dump a plate of food on Holden.


The Original Brown Derby's Cobb Salad


1/2 head of lettuce
1/2 bunch watercress
1 small bunch chicory
1/2 head romaine
2 medium tomatoes, peeled
2 breasts of boiled roasting chicken
6 strips crisp bacon
1 avocado
3 hard−cooked eggs
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup crumbled imported Roquefort cheese
1 cup Brown Derby Old−Fashioned French Dressing (See recipe, below)


1. Cut finely lettuce, watercress, chicory and romaine and arrange in salad bowl.
2. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, dice finely, and arrange over top of chopped greens.
3. Dice breasts of chicken and arrange over top of chopped greens.
4. Chop bacon finely and sprinkle over the salad.
5. Cut avocado in small pieces and arrange around the edge of the salad.
6. Decorate the salad by sprinkling over the top the chopped eggs, chopped chives, and grated cheese.
7. Just before serving mix the salad thoroughly with French Dressing.

Brown Derby's Old−Fashioned French Dressing


1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup olive oil
3 cups salad (vegetable) oil

1. Blend together all ingredients except oils.
2. Then add olive and salad oils and mix well again.
3. Chill.
4. Shake before serving.

This dressing keeps well in the refrigerator. Can be made and stored in a mason jar.

Information for the entry gathered at Wikipedia --

1 comment:

Nick the secret restaurant recipes guy said...

Wow now that sounds like a great recipe. "Brown derbys salad" What book did you get this one out of or is it a family recipe?