Sep 26 2009

Chicken à la King, Foxhall Keene and the Vanderbilt Cup Races

The hometown favorite of the 1905 and 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Races was millionaire sportsman and Wall Street broker Foxhall Keene. Although proficient in auto racing, polo, equestrian riding, football and shooting, it was a food dish where Keene made his name. But first, let's discuss Keene's Vanderbilt Cup racing career.


Since the origin of the car determined the entry's representation, American-born Keene and his Mercedes drove for Germany. Regardless, spectators cheered wildly when Keene and his #5 racer reached to the 1905 Mineola starting line on Jericho Turnpike.


And the crowd saluted the native Long Islander each time he passed the grandstand.


After five laps, Keene was running a strong third.... until he hit a telegraph pole at I.U. Willets Road and Willis Avenue in Albertson. As captured by a Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographer, Keene's mechanician William Luttgen was pinned under the car. Luckily neither was seriously injured.


Keene tried again in the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race. This time, his #18 Mercedes lasted only four of the 11 laps when he cracked a cylinder in Jericho.


Keene lived just one mile north of the 1906 starting line in his Old Westbury estate called “Rosemary Hall.”


His mansion is still standing and currently being restored to its former glory.

So, how does this relate to chicken à la king?

Many food historians claim that the one and only Foxhall Keene suggested chicken à la king to the chef at New York City's Delmonico’s Restaurant, where it was originally served as chicken à la keene.


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