PCS Blog

James Beard’s Onion Sandwiches

Posted by Kinsley Suer | 16 January 2013

“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.”  – James Beard
Before James Beard became famous for his cooking classes and cookbooks, he ran a catering business in New York City that specialized in hors d’oeuvres. After introducing his lovely little onion sandwiches to the New York social scene in 1938, they became one of his most popular items. Legend had it he even served this sandwiches to French chef Jacques Pepin one Sunday morning in the mid-1960s, claiming that they were the perfect “hangover food.”
Beard was always a big fan of onions. Throughout his life he would fondly recall this lifelong love, which began in his childhood:
"The kitchen, reasonably enough, was the scene of my first gastronomic adventure. I was on all fours. I crawled into the vegetable bin, settled on a giant onion and ate it, skin and all. It must have marked me for life, for I have never ceased to love the hearty flavor of raw onions."
So it’s no wonder that he would find a way to create such unique sandwiches, with onions, of all things, as the gastronomical star!


In I Love to Eat, actor Rob Nagle recreates James Beard’s famous onion sandwiches, live on stage – homemade mayonnaise and all. Thanks to some behind-the-scenes magic, the sandwiches are transformed from a handful into a platter, then distributed to a few lucky audience members, who will get the taste them during the performance! The platter of onion sandwiches will be made from scratch by Armory Café Manager Iris Fraser before each and every performance. 
Want to make them yourself? The James Beard Foundation has the recipe here, and NPR has Jacques Pepin’s version here. And if you’re lucky enough to be served one of these delightful little sandwiches during a performance of I Love to Eat, enjoy!

Photos by Patrick Weishampel.
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