Explore Palm Springs: Chi Chi Chef Ernie Glaser

Recipe contest winners received dinner, show at Starlite Room

Nicolette Wenzell History 0 Comments


During the 1950s, the Palm Springs Villager magazine ran a monthly recipe column titled, Gourmet at Large.

Here, Chi Chi chef Ernie Glaser highlighted a few recipes from his repertoire. The French born chef had, according to the column, “been interested in gastronomy since his youth and before coming to the United States he gained fame as a caterer to kings, three of them including King Victor Emmanuel of Italy, King Zog of Albania, and King George of Greece.”

The column generated much interest from Villager readers. In response to this popularity, beginning in October of 1958, Glaser offered a contest to “encourage more interest in the art of fine foods.”

Entrants were asked to submit a recipe with the winning submittal receiving the award of “an evening at the Chi Chi including the show in the beautiful Starlite Room and dinner personally prepared at the table by Glaser.” Winners were chosen monthly.

The recipes Glaser chose to share in October 1958, upon the announcement of the contest were certainly inspirational:

Alaskan King Crab Legs Imperial
4 Alaskan King Crab Legs
2 Tablespoons Fresh Butter
2 Tablespoons Chopped Shallot
1 Tablespoon Chopped Parsley
1 Clove Garlic Crushed
Juice of 2 Fresh Limes
1 Cup Sparkling, Iced Champagne

Loosen the crabmeat from the shell and sauté in fresh butter. Add chopped shallot, parsley, garlic, and juice of the limes. Season to taste and add a pinch of paprika and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. When the crabmeat is well cooked pour the iced champagne over it and blend the champagne with the juices in the pan or chafing dish. Keep basting till the champagne has heated. Serve immediately.

Medallions of Filet Mignon
2 Slices ¾” Thick from Middle Heart of a Prime Beef Tenderloin
2 Tablespoons Fresh Butter
2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Green Onion
1 Teaspoon A-1 Sauce
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Clove Garlic Crushed in Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper
Juice of ½ Lemon
2 Tablespoons Burgundy Wine

Melt butter in chafing dish then add green onion, A-1 Sauce, and Worcestershire Sauce. Blend together. Rub the meat with garlic and dust with fresh ground black pepper. Sauté the filets to the desired doneness. Add the lemon juice and wine in the last phases of cooking process. Baste continuously and serve immediately.

Crème d’Isigney
(Usually served in stone jars in Paris to be poured over fresh berries or fresh sliced peaches)
3 Packages Cream Cheese
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Sugar*
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Soften cream cheese at room temperature and then work in half of the cream with a fork until well blended. Add vanilla sugar in the second half of the cream and beat with a rotary beater for about 3 minutes. Blend two mixtures together well and store in refrigerator till serving time. Beat again just before serving since this delightful sauce has a tendency to thicken in the refrigerator.

*Vanilla Sugar
Put one vanilla bean in a mason jar with refined sugar. Keep tightly capped for 24 hours or longer.


There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 75 in 2013.

One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a weekly story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org

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