Tiny Tidbits: 86

Tiny tidbits is where I will explore some culinary and foodie questions that I get asked a lot or that I hear get asked often.

86 –

We’ve all heard it in restaurants when orders are called. “86 the tomato” or also when refusing to serve a customer.

So where did the term originate?

I have heard it was from a restaurant (Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City) the 86 item on the menu (The steak and the most popular item) was the first thing they ran out of. It is said 86 originated there as shorthand for being out of an item.

I have also heard it was used because it rhymes with the word nix.

A favorite theory has to do with the a famous NY speakeasy in the 1900’s named Chumley’s that was located at 86 Bedford St. The entrance was discreet, private and through an interior adjoining courtyard. Allegedly, the cops were on the payroll and whenever they were about to raid the joint they would call ahead and warn the bartender. Again, allegedly, the bartender would say “86 everybody” which meant to get everyone out through the Bedford St. entrance cause the cops were coming through the courtyard. – I am particularly fond of this theory.

There is also the soda jerk theory. Which basically there were a lot of numeric codes used by the clerks. 86 meant out of an item. 33 meant that they wanted a cherry-flavored coke. 99 meant to be careful the manager was on the prowl. 87 1/2 meant there was a hot babe to check out.

Yet another popular theory is the soup kitchen and breadlines in the Great Depression. The standard cauldron held 85 cups of soup which meant the 86 person in line was left with an empty bowl and thus they were out of food.

There are several other theories that I an list. Like 86 being the end of the line for a Manhattan streetcar line. Or the 86 proof  whiskey reserved for the ladies in the Old West which was also sold/given to rowdy cowboys instead of the standard 100 proof.

Other Resources:


Recipe of the Week: Lemon Vinaigrette

This is the vinaigrette I used for my composed salad for my A la Carte finale for my final practical for school. Chef loved my salad and said the vinaigrette rocked.

I did a composed salad of chopped romaine and chopped grilled romaine with marinated tomato concassé (marinated in a bit of the vinaigrette for flavor) as well as grilled squash to add a bit of height and a toasted almonds for garnish for crunch.

1/4c olive oil
2T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t dijon mustard
1 minced garlic clove
salt and black pepper

I was originally going to use fresh minced thyme or parsley or chives or even tarragon but I didn’t want to go against my thyme by having to go to the garden to pick the herbs. I played with the flavors until I was happy. I added a bit of the lemon zest and sherry vinegar as well as a touch of sugar to balance out the acidity.

The main thing is that this is a starter recipe. You can make it your own by adding what you want.

A great way to test the vinaigrette before you add it to a salad is to test it with one of the leafs of the salad greens. That way you can get a taste for how it will be on the salad. It is a truer way to taste than if you just use a spoon.


Composed Salad – A type of salad prepared with a number of ingredients that are all arranged neatly and symmetrically on the plate instead of being tossed together. Usually there is a main or centerpiece item. It can feature contrasting colors, textures (Crisp/Soft, Lean/Fatty), flavors (Spicy/Cool, Sweet/Sour) and temperatures (Hot/Cold). Each ingredient is capable of standing alone but enhanced by the other ingredients.

Concassé – It is a diced tomato that has been peeled and the seeds removed. Fresh tomatoes are scored on the bottom with a T or a X and blanched for no more than a minute, ideally no more than 30 seconds because you do not want the tomatoes to be mushy. The tomato should be firm but soft enough that the skin loosens. The length of time depends on the size of the tomato. It is then shocked. Remove the tough part of the stem by using the tip of a paring knife to carve a the small cone-shaped piece out of the stem. This can be done before blanching or after. You can also do this by slicing the tomato in half and cutting of the stem in a small V shape. Then proceed to remove the seeds. To remove the seeds, cut the tomato in half and either squeeze or scoop out the seeds with your fingers or a spoon. For each tomato, remove the tough part where the stem used to be by using the tip of a paring knife to carve a small cone-shaped piece out of the stem end.