On the trail of the world’s most elusive salad topping
Author Allison Weiss Entrekin
“We sold to the Gores until their divorce; we still sell to the Bushes,” says Sam Perry, owner of Crane Crest Real French Dressing. We know what you’re thinking—dressing? Really? But Crane Crest uses a secret recipe passed down from Gordon Crane, a World War II soldier who developed it while stationed in Paris. It’s not homogenized, and it is mostly oil, with a sludge of secret spices that settle at the bottom. It’s sold in select small stores, but Perry has refused offers from Williams-Sonoma, Dean & DeLuca and L.L. Bean to carry it. Mostly, the financial adviser–by-day works on the dressing at night, picking it up at a local production facility, checking his voicemail for phone orders and shipping the $4.50 jars with an invoice. Payment is on the honor system. If you live in the area, near Chestnut Hill, Mass., he might even leave your dressing by his front door to save you on shipping. Cynics scoff, but Perry insists he’s had only three people stiff him. “They know if they don’t pay us, they can’t get more,” he says.