Oysters Rockefeller is credited to Jules Alciatore of a restaurant called “Antoine’s,” which still stands today. Alciatore created the recipe in 1899 by combining watercress, scallions, celery, anise and other seasonings into one rich dish. The original recipe is lost to time. Alciatore’s version was approximated in a book by Ford Naylor called World Famous Chef’s Cook Book. The manual collected closely-guarded recipes from the world’s top chefs of Naylor’s era.
Oysters Rockefeller was created to try and sate the demand for snails, which were slow coming from Europe. Jules Alciatore sought a localized replacement for snails to try and avoid having difficulties with his orders in the future. He settled on oysters, being that they were rarely served at the time and easy to find. He made a sauce out of the greens available to him, and the dish has since been served in excess of three million times.
The name came from John D. Rockefeller. It’s not that the oysters were a favorite of his, nor were they prepared specifically for him. Alciatore would often tell customers that no other name seemed to encapsulate the richness of the dish.
The original recipe, according to Alciatore’s grandson, is still at “Antoine’s” and has never been printed or published.