There are many stories about the origin of Chicken a la King, and many of them sound plausible. It is a dish of diced chicken, mushrooms, green peppers, and pimientos in a cream sherry sauce served on toast. Here are some of the stories. Dates range from 1881 to the 1920s.
1. Either a Mr. or Mrs. Foxhall Keene suggested it to the chef at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City, and originally served as Chicken a la Keene. This was in the “late 1890s.
2. The chef at Claridge’s Hotel in London created it in 1881 for sportsman J. R. Keene (Foxhall’s father from the story above). J.R.’s horse, possibly also named Foxhall, had just won the Grand Prix in Paris.
3. A variation on #2, that the chef at Claridge’s named the dish after his father, J.R. King.
4. An American invention created in the 1920s on Long Island, the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, or in Miami, Florida.
5. The most likely candidate. Created by Chef George Greenwald, at the Brighten Beach Hotel, New York in either 1898 or “the early 1900s. He prepared a special chicken dish one evening for the owners, Mr. & Mrs. E. Clark King II. The next day, either Mr. King loved it and wanted it on the menu or Chef Greenwald asked if he could put it on the menu. In either case, it was added to the menu as Chicken a la King ($1.25), and quickly became a great success.