From its elegant Turquoise Room to its beautiful Navajo observation car, in the 20th century there was perhaps no more luxurious mode of travel than aboard the Santa Fe Super Chief. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Super Chief was known as the “Train of the Stars” since it transported the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Bing Crosby, and Janet Leigh, to name a few, between Chicago and Los Angeles. Dining on the Super Chief was quite the experience, as world-class chefs prepared some of the greatest meals on rails. The food aboard was so popular that the Santa Fe actually printed a cookbook of Fred Harvey recipes for its passengers to take home and try to reproduce for their families.
As the highlight of the trip between Chicago and Los Angeles was the brilliant Southwestern United States, the entire train was themed with Southwestern Native American artwork, designs, and color schemes. The Colorado Railroad Museum is proud to own some items from this amazing train, including the Navajo observation car, copies of the Super Chief cookbook, dining car china, and menus, all of which are pictured herein. Perhaps you would like to try the following recipe for your family. Tell us how it tastes via our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. We would love to hear how it turns out!
Figure 1 Recipe for Stuffed Zucchini Andalouse by Super Chief Chef Carlos Gardini. Super Chief Cookbook, page 8. Colorado Railroad Museum collection.
Figure 2 Super Chief cookbook given to passengers as a souvenir, circa 1958. The cover illustration depicts a couple dining in the famous Turquoise Room aboard the Super Chief. Colorado Railroad Museum collection.
Figure 3 Super Chief Chef Carlos Gardini, creator of the Stuffed Zucchini Andalouse. From The Super Chief… Train of the Stars by Stan Repp.
Figure 5 Mimbreño sugar bowl, Colorado Railroad Museum collection (4.0965). Mary Colter, famed architect and designer for Fred Harvey, designed this china pattern based upon motifs from the ancient Mimbres people of New Mexico. This pattern of china was used in dining cars on the Super Chief, as well as other Santa Fe dining cars.
Figure 6 Famous actor Janet Leigh boards the Super Chief, circa 1950. From New York Social Diary blogpost “The Super Chief – The Train of the Stars” by Michael L. Grace, 8/15/2010. https://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/the-super-chief-the-train-of-the-stars/
Figure 7 Advertisement for the Super Chief, circa 1958. You were “Really Living” if you dined in the Turquoise Room aboard the Super Chief. Passengers could reserve the room for private parties up to nine people. To be able to say you “came in on the Super Chief” was quite the status symbol from the 1930s to the 1950s. From New York Social Diary blogpost “The Super Chief – The Train of the Stars” by Michael L. Grace, 8/15/2010. https://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/the-super-chief-the-train-of-the-stars/
Figure 8 Santa Fe dining service advertisement, Saturday Evening Post, circa 1958. Recipes aboard the Super Chief were from Fred Harvey’s Houses along the Santa Fe Route in the Southwest.
Figure 9 Navajo observation car that once was part of the Super Chief consist. The Navajo now resides at the Colorado Railroad Museum.