How La Scala’s chopped salad became the Oscars’ favourite dish

LA restaurant La Scala’s chopped salad turned an off-menu dish into a culinary icon. Here’s how, plus our pick of Oscar-worthy salad ware for your own table

Front view of La Scala restaurant, home of the chopped salad
La Scala Beverly Hills opened in 1956
(Image credit: Courtesy, La Scala)

Los Angeles is generally a fickle city, but when it comes to restaurants, Angelenos are particularly loyal, especially to their favourite dishes. The chopped salad at legendary Beverly Hills spot La Scala is one of them. Concocted by restaurateur Jean Leon in the 1950s, the off-menu dish is still one of La Scala’s – and LA’s – most popular salads today. Ahead of this Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, we get a flavour of its beginnings, and also serve up some showstopping salad ware for your own celebrations. 

Salad bowl and silver servers on table

Christofle ‘Cluny’ silver-plated salad serving spoon £190, and salad serving fork, £190, at

(Image credit: Courtesy, brand)

Stars on their way to the Oscars requested a dish that was easy to eat in their finery

Legend has it La Scala invented the chopped salad after Leon’s well-heeled guests – Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland among the – begged him to make something that was easier for them to eat in their finery. 'It was originally called the gourmet salad and it was all the same ingredients, just with bigger pieces,' says Gigi Leon, Jean’s daughter and current owner of La Scala.

La Scala Restaurant owner pictured in the 1970s

Restaurateur Jean Leon, who opened La Scala in Beverly Hills in the 1950s

(Image credit: Courtesy, La Scala)

'Back then, everyone dressed for dinner, and they all complained to my dad, saying, “The salad’s delicious, by why is it so hard to eat?” So, he spoke to the chefs and said, “Why don’t we just chop this all together?”'

Travasi oil bottle by Ichendorf Milano

Travasi oil bottle by Astrid Luglio for Ichendorf Milano, £22, at SCP

(Image credit: Courtesy, SCP)

The salad is a combination of lettuce, salami, mozzarella cheese and garbanzo beans served with a vinaigrette dressing, the recipe for which remains a closely guarded secret. 'Whenever I see it printed somewhere, I giggle to myself because it’s always wrong,' says Gigi.

La Scala restarutant Beverly Hills 1970s

Archive street view of La Scala, Beverly Hills

(Image credit: Courtesy, La Scala)

La Scala chopped salad goes viral on TikTok

The salad recently went viral on TikTok after it was said to be a favourite of Kim Kardashian (though the ever-discreet Leon won’t be led on names), with self-made videos on how to make it racking up millions of views.

Jungle scene Hermès salad bowl large model

(Image credit: Courtesy, Hermès)

So, what’s the secret behind its enduring appeal? Leon says it’s all down to how the salad’s on-trend toppings have changed over the years. 'In the Seventies, everyone wanted roast beef on it, and right now grilled salmon is really big,' she says. 'People even put Bolognese on it – they’ll just order the sauce without the pasta and put it straight on the salad.'

prada home serving plate

(Image credit: Courtesy, Harrods)

As for trying to recreate it at home, Leon swears it never tastes the same. ‘I don’t know why; I think it’s the way the chefs chop it – they really bang away at it, rather than slicing the ingredients. That and the fact that it’s made with love.’

Luciana Bellini is a journalist and editor who splits her time between London and LA, working freelance for a variety of publications, including Condé Nast Traveller, The Times, London Evening Standard, Grazia and Glamour.