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Blast From the Past – 8 Culinary Innovations that Have Changed Our Lives

May 9, 2019 Dining No Comments

There’s no doubt about it – food makes the world go round! We are always obsessing over the latest culinary trends, and remain in hot pursuit of the perfect #Instaworthy dish to spruce up our feed. As novel combinations and dishes continue to revolutionize the food industry, we have started to take many of our current food favorites for granted. It’s high-time for a throwback to the past, and see how our favorite treats even came about in the first place! Here are eight culinary innovations that have changed our lives – and their unique histories and origin stories.

  1. Eggs Benedict


Despite its reputation as brunch-time favorite for millennials, the origins of the Eggs Benedict can actually be traced as far back as 1894! Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street broker, had woken up in Waldorf Astoria New York with a hangover and desperately craved a hearty breakfast. He requested for “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and spoon of Hollandaise” – hatching the order for the first ever Eggs Benedict. Inspired by his request, the chefs at the hotel named the dish after him, and this iconic combination has remained the same ever since.

  1. Milkshakes

Everyone loves a good milkshake, but not many people know its origins as an alcoholic beverage. First concocted in 1885, a milkshake contained egg, whiskey and was considered a health tonic. Alongside the invention of the electronic blender and introduction of ingredients like ice-cream and flavored milk, the milkshake evolved to cater to a broader audience and has become the sweet treat we know and love today.

  1. Red Velvet Cake

Iconic for its deep-red hues and unique flavor profile, red velvet is certainly one of the biggest culinary phenomena to have influenced the culinary world. Even with many other red-velvet treats, the red velvet cake reigns as one of the most timeless desserts of all time. The modern version of the cake was made popular after it emerged from the kitchen of Waldorf Astoria New York in 1930, and was otherwise known as “Waldorf Red Cake”, “Red Carpet Cake”, among others. The rest, as they say, is history.

  1. Nachos

Nachos are so well-loved that they even have a dedicated day of celebration (National Nachos Day falls on November 6). Commonly regarded as a traditional Mexican dish, nachos were in fact, created for an American palate. The birth of nachos can be traced back to the 1940s, when a Mexican chef Ignacio Anaya took pity on a group of U.S. military wives who could not find a restaurant open for dinner. Using leftover ingredients in his kitchen, Anaya spontaneously whipped up a plate and called it ‘Nachos’, after his own nickname. Who would have thought that with such humble origins, this dish would one day be served at football stadiums, movie theatres, and restaurants all over the world!

  1. Brownies

Today, a decadent brownie can be found at just about any bakery, but this was not always the case. Before 1893, this treat didn’t even exist! The story goes that Bertha Palmer, the wife of the owner of Palmer House Hilton, challenged pastry chefs at the hotel to invent a fuss-free, delicious dessert that could be transported easily. With that, the bite-sized, chocolatey treat was born. The original recipe continues to be used at the Palmer House Hilton, and has inspired the birth of many other spin-offs.

  1. French Fries


Did you know that French fries do not actually originate from France? In the late 1600s, villagers from Belgium used to snack on small, fried fish. When it would get too cold to fish in winter, they looked to find an alternative – and turned to the potato instead. With that, the iconic ‘fry’ was born! Because the Belgians speak French, this tasty snack later on came to be referred to as French fries.

  1. Waldorf Salad

The unassuming Waldorf Salad pays homage to its place of origin, Waldorf Astoria New York. As part of the Waldorf Astoria’s debut, the hotel manager had put together a classic dish of apples, celery, grapes and mayonnaise. What could go wrong? Well-loved for its fresh and light flavors, the salad has remained a party-staple to this day, sometimes with new additions like raisins, walnuts and lettuce.

  1. Piña Colada

A go-to drink for the summer, Piña Colada is a sweet cocktail that blends together rum, coconut cream and pineapples. Ramón Marrero, a bartender at Caribe Hilton San Juan, wanted to create a tropical blend that encapsulated the flavors of the island – after three months of experimenting, he finally perfected the recipe and Piña Colada was birthed in 1954. Over the next 35 years until his retirement, Ramón personally mixed the drink for guests at the hotel and the drink was declared the national drink of Puerto Rico in 1978. Now, it’s hard to imagine a beach getaway without it!

Without the resourcefulness of the Belgian villagers, or the innovative culinary skills from the chefs at the Waldorf Astoria New York, we might never have had the opportunity to savor some of the world’s most well-loved treats. We rarely give a second thought to consider the origin of our favorite foods, and take so many of them for granted!

With Conrad Centennial Singapore’s 100th Anniversary Afternoon Tea, you have the perfect opportunity to take a walk down memory lane and savor these age-old favorites. In line with Hilton’s 100th year anniversary, the chefs at Conrad Centennial Singapore have created a special afternoon tea to showcase some of Hilton’s signature creations from the last century. Over the weekend, guests can expect four courses of delectable treats; which includes the original Palmer House Hilton recipe walnut brownie, silky Cream Cheese Red Velvet Cake, as well as a spin on classics, such as Eggs Benedict with Asian crab salad, and the hotel’s signature Gin & Tonic packed into a Panna Cotta. Don’t miss out!

The 100th Anniversary Afternoon Tea will be available until end June, 2019. To make a reservation, please call +65 6432 7483 or email

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