OUR OPERATIC STEAKS
How Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin
Sang for His Dinner
There are several versions of the birth of the now globally served
Chaliapin Steak at The Imperial. One has the brilliant,
self-aggrandizing Russian basso delighted by a tender rump steak
the exotic Grill Room kitchens softened with onions. Another suggests Chaliapin
(it's a 3 syllable name: shal-ya-pin) barged into the kitchen on his own and
showed the chef how to make the steak to his liking, leaving its recipe
for posterity. Portrait by Boris Kustodiev, 1921.
You can enjoy the real thing in the high-ceilinged depths of
our much beloved La Brasserie, LL1, Main Building,
while recalling Chaliapin's (1873-1938) dazzling career,
which began in 1894 at the St. Petersburg Imperial Opera,
where his deep basso accented the singer's
conspicuously naturalistic, vivid acting.
Chaliapin became a devoted patron of The Imperial's New Grill during
his stays in Tokyo, after celebrated appearances at La Scala on
his debut there under Toscanini, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow,
and several seasons at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The soft, sweet Chaliapin Steak is said to have been concocted to
accommodate the singer's toothaches during a 1930s' tour in Tokyo,
where in 1936 he recorded his last of many successful records,
the Volga Boatmen. Tenderized with a topping of chopped onions for
some 20 minutes, the cut is sautéed and coated with the onions,
in a salute to both sukiyaki and Russian cuisine.