It would appear the Beat writer William S. Burroughs had a dish named after him by the same chef who is said to have created the crepe suzette, Henri Charpentier.
Charpentier was a very well-known and hugely successful chef who had made his name at the Savoy in London, before opening his own restaurant Original Henri Restaurant & Bar in New York around 1906. Customers at his swanky restaurant included film stars, politicians and heads of state. In 1938 he closed the restaurant and moved to Chicago where he opened the Café de Paris. Then in 1945, he moved again, this time to the west coast, where he set-up another exclusive restaurant in Redondo Beach.
According to writer and blogger, Matthew Rowley it’s more than probable that Burroughs ate at one of Charpentier’s restaurants, most likely in Chicago, where the chef named a dish after the writer.
For a few years, in the early 1940’s, Burroughs lived in Chicago while Charpentier ran Café de Paris in the city’s Park Dearborn Hotel. He had a few jobs in Chicago, including a stint as an exterminator, a role that would resonate through his writing for decades. Exterminators don’t make bank, but with an allowance from his well-to-do family, Burroughs probably could afford to eat well. And he was definitely a character: he’d sawn off one of his own fingers in an effort to impress a man with whom he was infatuated. I’m guessing that even in 1943, William S. Burroughs made an impression.
I’m also supposing it was during this time, while Burroughs and Charpentier where both in Chicago, that the French chef caught a wild hare and decided to name a dish after an eccentric customer. Of course, this wouldn’t have been a unique honor. I don’t think ol’ Henri buttered toast without naming it after some American celebrity, friend, hero, or other person he’d want to compliment.
Charpentier published his recipe for “Eggs, William S. Burroughs” in his cookbook Food and Finesse: The Bride’s Bible that was privately published and limited to only 1,000 copies for customers and friends. Amongst the recipes contained inside are “Pheasant, Samuel Morse”; “Lamb, Grover Cleveland”; “Cauliflower, Eli Whitney”; “Guinea Hen, Ulysses S. Grant”; “Brandy Apples, Amelia Earhart”; and on page 426, is the recipe for “Eggs, William S. Burroughs.”
Eggs William S. Burroughs
By Henri Charpentier, 1945
Chop one onion and place it into a pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Brown it.
Take the green part of 1 chicory salad (keep the white part for a salad). Chop it fine and add it to the onion. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add 4 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 1 clove of garlic that has been crushed into a little chopped parsley, 2 chopped peeled tomatoes, 1 more tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of meat stock, 1 pinch of pepper, one pinch of salt, and one sherry-glassful of claret. Cook for 5 minutes.
Boil 2 handfuls of noodles for 15 minutes. Strain. Be sure they are free of all water. Place them on the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with the chicory, etc., and bake in a preheated moderate oven of 350°F for 15 minutes. Season to taste.