LOS ANGELES -- The doors to the famous Hollywood eatery closed in 1995, but the legend of Chasen's lives on as southern California retailers stock the legendary restaurant's famous chili, now available in a lower-fat chicken variety.
According to Ralph Woodworth, chief executive officer for Chasen Food Specialties, Inc. here, it was customer demand that drove them to develop the chicken recipe.
"We made it because people were asking for it," he said. "We're also working on a vegetarian recipe right now for the same reason."
The chili comes packaged frozen in a 32-ounce microwavable tray with a box featuring Chasen's logo and an illustrated collage of founder Dave Chasen greeting celebrities at his restaurant.
Following its meat-filled counterpart, which uses all-natural ingredients, including 50% top-grade meat, the chicken recipe calls for only white meat from the breast of the chicken.
Chasen's Chicken Chili, as well as the original recipe, is available at select supermarkets in southern California, including units of Gelson's, Encino, Calif.; Ralph's Fresh Fare, Compton, Calif.; Gibson N Cooke, Los Angeles; Draeger's, Menlo Park, Calif.; and Jensen's Finest Foods, Blue Jay, Calif. Woodworth said they will soon be available at Vons Pavilion, Pleasanton, Calif., and Bristol Farms, El Segundo, Calif., as well.
While most locations are carrying the chili in the frozen foods department, Gelson's has opted to carry it in the deli department. Woodward said the chicken chili has been selling very well, especially in the desert areas.
Both recipes sell for about $15 whether purchased from one of the retail locations or directly from the Chasen's office.
To advertise the new chicken chili, Chasen's advertised in the Food section of the Los Angeles Times as well as in the local paper, The Beverly Hills Carrier. Ads were run in December for the debut, and again in time for the Super Bowl.
Woodworth said there are already plans to expand the menu.
"Right now we're developing the vegetarian chili and are going into production on cheese toast," he said.
Other menu items due for retail release in the future are Chasen's Caesar salad dressing and chicken pot pie.
Bristol Farms will actually be doing even more to keep the memory of Chasen's alive, as it plans to construct a new store on the Chasen's site, leaving crucial elements, like the front entranceway and a seating area with the original booths and tables, intact.
The legend of Chasen's Chili dates from its development in 1936. Later its reputation reached celebrity status when Elizabeth Taylor ordered 10 quarts of the item shipped to her on location in Rome, where she was filming Cleopatra.