ROCHESTER, NEW YORK | Augusta National has its pimento cheese and peach cobbler.
The Olympic Club in San Francisco has its burger dogs, hamburger patties shaped to fit into hot dog buns and worth every double bogey one makes getting to the turn house.
Buffalo is about 75 miles west of Oak Hill Country Club, where the PGA Championship was played last week, and it is as renowned for its chicken wings and beef on weck sandwiches as for its snowstorms.
Then there is Rochester, which has hosted seven major championships plus a Ryder Cup in addition to several other big-time golf events. Its contribution to golf’s cuisine is something called the garbage plate.
It sounds so, uh, descriptive.
Though Kodak and Xerox, corporations that helped build Rochester’s brand, have seen their local footprint shrink, the garbage plate lives on.
Even Rory McIlroy, whose wife, Erica, is from Rochester, is familiar with the distinctive menu item.
“I've only had one garbage plate in my life. I haven't went overboard with that,” said McIlroy, though his reluctance to elaborate on the menu item suggests one garbage plate was enough for him.
What is a garbage plate, you ask?
The name itself has been trademarked by Nick Tahou Hots, a local restaurant credited with the delicacy’s creation. Theirs is the original, but there are plenty of variations to be found, much like craft beers these days.
Here is how the VisitRochester.com website describes it:
“A traditional Garbage Plate is your choice of cheeseburger, hamburger, white or red hots* (aka hot dogs, especially those made by local company Zweigle’s), Italian sausage, chicken or grilled cheese, served on top of any combination of home fries, french fries, baked beans, and/or macaroni salad. The plate is usually topped with a Rochester-style meat ‘hot sauce.’ Optional mustard, onions and ketchup may be added on top. A Garbage Plate is traditionally served with a side of buttered bread (in case you were still hungry!).”
According to local legend, the garbage plate got its name decades ago when a group of college kids showed up late at night and requested a plate with “all the garbage on it.”
Not exactly what Justin Thomas served at the champions dinner last week. His menu, catered by super-exclusive Rao’s in New York City, included salad, baked clams, meatballs, penne in vodka sauce, pork chops and more.
Not a garbage plate to be found.
Maybe he didn’t know it’s a Rochester thing.
Ron Green Jr.