There are conflicting accounts as to the origin of eggs Benedict, including: In an interview recorded in the "Talk of the Town" column of The New Yorker in 1942, the year before his death, Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered "buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of Hollandaise." Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d'hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham for the bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast.
Refuting the claims of Oscar Tschirky/Lemuel Benedict, prior to serving as Maitre d’hotel (1893 to 1943) at the Waldorf, Tschirky was "on the staff of the old and famous Delmonico’s," along with the renowned Chef Charles Ranhofer.
This reflects an earlier claim to eggs Benedict as evidenced in Chef Ranhofer's 1894 cookbook, The Epicurean which includes "a selection of interesting bills of fare of Delmonico's from 1862-1894", in particular a recipe for eggs Benedict (Eggs a' la—Benedick / Eufa a' la Benedick):
Cut some muffins in halves crosswise, toast them without allowing to brown, then place a round of cooked ham an eighth of an inch thick and of the same diameter as the muffins on each half. Heat in a moderate oven and put a poached egg on each toast. Cover the whole with Hollandaise sauce (No. 501).
During Chef Ranhofer's Delmonico years (1862-1899), Captain and Mrs. Le Grand Benedict (born 1843, Emma Frances Gardner) were frequent diners. Five generations of Benedict family history, including Mabel C. Butler (descended through Mrs. LeGrand Benedict's daughter Florence), author of a 1967 letter (more below) to the NY Times, and great-great-granddaughter Emily Benedict (born 1962, descended through Mrs. LeGrand Benedict's son Harold) independently cite similar stories from the late 1860s, that frequent patron Mrs. Benedict became uninterested in the usual Delmonico menu offerings and inquired for the Chef to create "something new". He replied asking if she had any ideas, to which she suggested what is now known as eggs Benedict (although her original version included a truffle on top.) Thereafter the creation made its way into Chef Ranhofer’s The Epicurean.
Oscar Tschirky quite possibly learned of eggs Benedict from Chef Ranhofer during their crossover Delmonico years together. While Lemuel Benedict may indeed have requested the egg concoction from Tschirky at the Waldorf in 1894 as a hangover cure, in that same year, the recipe was already printed in Chef Ranhofer's The Epicurean.
Further reading in line with Mrs. Le Grand Benedict's story - as retold by her descendents - can be found in "More New York Stories: The Best of the City Section of The New York Times".
A third claim to the eggs Benedict fame was circuitously made by Edward P. Montgomery on behalf of Commodore E.C. Benedict. In 1967 Montgomery wrote a letter to then NY Times columnist Craig Claiborne and included a recipe he claimed to have received through his Uncle, a friend of the Commodore. Commodore Benedict's recipe - by way of Montgomery - varies greatly from Chef Ranhofer's version, particularly in the hollandaise sauce preparation - calling for the addition of "hot, hard-cooked egg and ham mixture."
^Rombauer, Irma S.; Marion Rombauer Becker (1995) . "Egg Dishes". The Joy of Cooking. Illustrated by Ginnie Hofmann and Ikki Matsumoto (1st Scribner Edition 1995 ed.). New York, NY: Scribner. p. 222. ISBN0-02-604570-2.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)Notes:Title of recipe is poached eggs Blackstone. Uses fried slice of flour dipped tomato, minced bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise. No bread for base.
^"Rich mix of patrons makes Moto's special". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. December 18, 1986. pp. A/6. "eggs Florentine ($3.95), eggs poached and topped with Hollandaise sauce, served on spinach and English muffin" Notes:Not directly verified. Viewed through Google News Archive snippet view.
^"Brunch & Lunch Menu". Mara's Homemade Restaurant. Archived from the original on January 7, 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2007. "Eggs Hussarde Toasted English muffin, Canadian bacon, Marchand de Vin sauce, poached eggs and Mara's Homemade hollandaise sauce"Notes:Located in New York, New York.
^"All-Star Southern Breakfasts". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. February 16, 1986. pp. M/10. "There is Country Benedict, which is two fried eggs with country sausage on biscuits topped with hollandaise sauce." Notes:This was viewed through a Google News Archive keyhole, rather than directly verified with its source.
^"Courtyard Cafe Menu". The Orleans Hotel and Casino. Archived from the original on December 23, 2005. Retrieved February 27, 2007. "Country Benedict Buttermilk biscuit and sausage patty, topped with poached eggs and country gravy"Notes:Located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Archived page doesn't match current one. The archived menu item is "Country Biscuit Benedict" and the description is slightly different.
^"Breakfast Menu". The Big Biscuit Restaurant. Archived from the original on April 30, 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2007. "Country Benedict scrambled eggs on a biscuit and sausage patty covered with sausage gravy, served with potatoes"Notes:Both Big Biscuit restaurants are located in Missouri.
^Townsend, Elisabeth (July 24, 2005). "Dining Out". The Boston Globe. "Irish Benedict ($7.50): two poached Eggs and corned beef hash on an English muffin covered with hollandaise sauce" Notes:Not directly verified. Viewed through Google News Archive snippet view.
^"Breakfast Menu". The Field Irish Pub. Retrieved March 30, 2007. "Toasted muffin topped with Irish bacon & poached eggs finished with Hollandaise sauce."Notes:Located in San Diego, California.
^"Breakfast Menu". Strafford Farms Restaurant. Archived from the original on May 12, 2006. Retrieved March 30, 2007. "IRISH BENEDICT 3.95 two poached eggs on an English muffin with corn beef hash topped with a hollandaise sauce"Notes:Located in Dover, New Hampshire.
“Was He the Eggman?” An account in The New York Times about Lemuel Benedict and the efforts of Jack Benedict, the son of Lemuel's first cousin, to promote Lemuel's story. Article includes link to an audio slide show.