Brown Derby Original Cobb Salad

It seems that the famous Cobb Salad was invented at the Brown Derby by the owner as a midnight snack for a special patron. It has since been copied and adapted through the generations. It has morphed countless times and falls into the category of the chop salad that can feature pretty much any ingredient your mind can think of.

It seems back in 1937, Bob Cobb, then owner of The Brown Derby, was alerted that Sid Grauman had shown up at the restaurant looking to be seated. It was quite obvious that he was too drunk to be seated in the main dining room, but too important to be turned away. Bob pulled Sid into the kitchen to get the man fed. It was quite late and Bob knew the refrigerators were full of partially prepped ingredients from all the meals that had been served that night. Opening a huge refrigerator, he hurriedly pulled whatever his hands first touched. A head of iceberg lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, hard-boiled eggs, chives, cheese and some of the restaurants own version of an old-fashioned French dressing. He started chopping perhaps to distract Sid, or perhaps he had a plan.

Whatever the case The Cobb salad was born. The next day to repay his friend’s kindness Sid Grauman arrived at the restaurant for lunch and heartily asked to be served “The Cobb Salad”.

Cobb’s midnight invention became an overnight sensation with Derby customers, people like movie mogul Jack Warner, who regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick up a carton of this salad.

How true this story is I cannot say, but it has become part of the lore of Hollywood. Which makes this salad the perfect choice for my evening in Panama featuring legendary recipes from famed Hollywood restaurants. The version I have decided to present is very close to what Bob may have served Sid and has earned the moniker The Brown Derby Original Cobb Salad.

Brown Derby Original Cobb Salad 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Adapted from The Brown Derby Restaurant CookbookPublished


  • ½ head iceberg lettuce
  • ½ bunch watercress
  • 1 bunch (small) chicory
  • ½ head baby romaine lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 breasts of cooked chicken
  • 8 slice crisp cooked bacon
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • crumbled imported roquefort cheese
  • 1 cup old fashioned brown derby french dressing (see separate recipe)


Chop the lettuce, watercress, chicory and romaine and set them aside separately. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, dice finely, Set them aside as well. Pull the breast meat it bite size strips, set aside. Chop the cooked bacon finely and set aside. Cut avocado in small pieces and set aside.

Carefully arrange all the set aside ingredients on a serving platter. You may toss them all together but its better to keep things laid out separately so each diner may arrange their own salad plate to suit themselves.

Decorate the platter with quartered hard-boiled eggs, chopped chives, and some crumbled blue cheese. Pass the Old fashioned French Dressing at the table for each diner to dress their own salad.