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Caesar Cardini

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Caesar Cardini
Born(1896-02-24)February 24, 1896
Baveno, Italy
DiedNovember 3, 1956(1956-11-03) (aged 60)
Known forInventing the Caesar salad

Cesare Cardini (also known as Caesar Cardini and César Cardini, February 24, 1896 – November 3, 1956) was an Italian restaurateur, chef, and hotel owner who, along with his brother Alex Cardini (November 23, 1899 – December 22, 1974), is credited with creating Caesar salad[1] at his Tijuana restaurant, Caesar's.



Caesar Cardini was born as Cesare Cardini in Baveno, a comune on the shore of Lago Maggiore, and had seven siblings: Bonifacio, Annibale, Nereo, Alessandro, Carlotta, Gaudenzio and Maria. While the sisters, Bonifacio, and Annibale stayed in Italy, the other three brothers emigrated to America; Nereo opened a small hotel near the casino in Santa Cruz, California;[2] Alessandro and Gaudenzio eventually were in the restaurant business in Mexico City. Alessandro, called Alex in the US, is reported to have been Caesar's partner in Tijuana, Mexico. Cesare sailed as a steerage passenger on board the RMS Olympic which arrived at the Port of New York on May 1, 1913. After inspection at Ellis Island, he boarded a train bound for Montreal.

Cesare eventually returned to Italy but returned to the United States in 1919.[3] With his partner William Brown, he ran Brown's Restaurant in Sacramento,[4] then moved to San Diego. At that time, he established the first of several restaurants in Tijuana, where he could avoid the restrictions of Prohibition. He married the musician Camille D. Stump on August 27, 1924, in Santa Ana, California. The couple had one daughter, Rosa Maria Cardini (1928–2003).[5]

Cardini is credited with creating Caesar salad in 1924. Guests regularly crossed the California border to Tijuana for alcohol, not legally available in the U.S. during prohibition, and came to dine at Caesar's restaurant. According to a 1987 interview with his daughter Rosa, on July 4, 1924, they came in such numbers that Caesar "simply wasn't prepared for that many people" and he improvised by making the salad "to give the dinner guests a show as well as a meal", putting together the ingredients in the middle of the dining room.[6] It soon became fashionable among Hollywood celebrities, especially after he had moved his restaurant a few blocks to the hotel, which was built around 1929 (nowadays called Hotel Caesar's).

After the repeal of the Volstead Act and the Mexican government's enactment of a ban on gambling, business from tourism to Tijuana drastically fell off.[7] Cardini quit his Mexican businesses in 1936[8] and moved back to San Diego to establish the Caesar Cardini Cafe.[9] For several years, he operated Tavern Hacienda in San Diego, the Beacon Inn in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and his own Caesar Cardini Villa in Chula Vista.

The family moved to Los Angeles about 1938[1] and Cardini focused on the production and marketing of his salad dressing which he trademarked in 1948. He died in Good Samaritan Hospital on November 3, 1956, in Los Angeles following a stroke at his home at 8738 Bonner Drive and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery.[10][11] His daughter took control of Caesar Cardini Foods Inc.[12] Later, the Cardini's brand was sold, and is now owned by the T. Marzetti specialty salad dressing company. It is still popular and offers more than a dozen varieties of the original recipe.[13]


Nowadays Hotel Caesar's on Avenida Revolución (formerly Main Street), c.2000

In Tijuana, Caesar's Restaurant and Bar on Avenida Revolución,[14] now under Baja Med celebrity chef Javier Plascencia, serves the "original Caesar's salad".[15]


  1. ^ a b "Cesar Cardini, Creator of Salad, Dies at 60". Los Angeles Times. November 5, 1956. Since 1935 he had lived in Los Angeles and was active in the marketing of the salad dressing he concocted. Accessed 2007-07-21.
  2. ^ "Nereo F. Cardini goes to Tijuana." Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, California) 22 Sep 1935, pg 8.
  3. ^ Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1961
  4. ^ Advertisement, Sacramento Union, December 13, 1919, pg 2.
  5. ^ "Rosa Cardini". The Daily Telegraph. September 21, 2003. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Rosa Cardini, who has died in California aged 75, turned the salad dressing created by her father, Caesar, into a staple of modern dining and a million-dollar business.
  6. ^ "Caesar hailed— His salad's never tossed out", by Jeanne Ambrose, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 3, 1987, p.E-1
  7. ^ San Diego Union, July 22, 1935; July 23, 1935; June 19, 1936. La Prensa, July 27, 1935.
  8. ^ San Diego Union, July 1, 1936. Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1936.
  9. ^ "Cafe Operator Remodels Downtown Corner." San Diego Evening Tribune, September 16, 1936. Grand opening display ad, San Diego Union, September 18, 1936. See also "Caesar Cardini Cafe." Classic San Diego: tasty bites from the history of San Diego. Web.
  10. ^ "Caesar Cardini Funeral". Los Angeles Times. November 7, 1956. Accessed 2007-07-23.
  11. ^ See details and a picture of his gravestone at Findagrave
  12. ^ "At the age of 10, Rosa helped to bottle her father's famous recipe, which the family sold from their station wagon at Los Angeles' Farmers Market after moving from San Diego." (From a 1987 interview with Rosa Cardini)
  13. ^ See Cardini's Salad Dressings Product Info [1] Archived 2018-02-10 at the Wayback Machine product details.
  14. ^ Tijuana tourism board: Restaurant Caesar's Palace Archived 2007-09-19 at the Wayback Machine, 8131 Revolucion Ave. [...]
  15. ^ "Caesar's - Grupo Plascencia". www.grupoplascencia.com. Retrieved 3 January 2021.