Bill Blass's Meatloaf

I've had this recipe for decades! It's so old probably many of you haven't even heard of it. (But I DO hope everyone knows about designer extraordinaire Bill Blass.) And yes, it really is Bill Blass's recipe! Everywhere we went for dinner in the 70's people were serving it. After all, if Bill Blass served it at HIS dinner parties, why not us?

It was even on the menu at Mortimer's in NYC, owner Glenn Bernbaum's public outpost for the rich and famous that closed in 1998.

"Virtually from the day Mortimer's opened its doors in 1976, the restaurant has been ubiquitous in the social columns, attracting an eclectic crowd ranging from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to Mick Jagger and Boy George to Jackie O., Fergie, and Brooke Astor, and even Cal Ripken Jr. Oh, and the parties -- using set designers, Bernbaum could transform his humble saloon, re-creating the Paris Opéra, the Plaza's Palm Court in 1907, or an overgrown wild jungle in the fairly mundane shell of the restaurant."

And when Mortimer's segued into Swifty's, the meatloaf went along; they still serve it, surrounded by mashed potatoes and gravy. 

Have you ever been to Swifty's in NYC? I LOVE going there for lunch. Very European in ambiance. It's small (only 60 covers) and so very intimate and cozy on a cold winter's day. Oh...and the food is dee-vine.

Do you know where the name came from? Swifty was the name of Mortimer owner Bernbaum's dog...and the dog was named after Irving "Swifty" Lazar, the Hollywood deal maker.

Sorry, I DO tend to get sidetracked.

Bill Blass's meatloaf is the subject of this post!
Do you think meatloaf is not grand enough to serve to company? Blass disagreed. He served it often to his guests.

"The man who once wrote that blue jeans were 'the most significant contribution America has made to fashion' had no such pretensions about serving meatloaf. Although the provenance of his recipe is unclear, friends suspect he brought it from hometown Fort Wayne, Ind. He felt that simplicity was real elegance."

In Bare Blass, which was finished just weeks before his death in 2002 and published soon after, he said that, after all, this recipe may be the way people most remember him.

And this recipe is the real McCoy, my dears. I always made it free form in a baking dish...which is what the original recipe suggested, although you certainly could make it in a loaf pan if you are a perfectionist.

BTW: Rumor had it that his banana cream pie was divine, but I've never seen a recipe for

Bill Blass's Meatloaf


1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 pounds ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 12-ounce bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
4-5 strips uncooked bacon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat egg, stir in Worcestershire sauce and reserve.
In a large pan over low heat, melt butter and sauté celery and onions, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent.
In a large bowl, combine onion-celery mixture with sirloin, pork, veal, parsley, bread crumbs, beaten egg mixture, salt and pepper, thyme, and marjoram.
On a baking sheet, form mixture into an oval loaf shape. Top with chili sauce and bacon strips.
Bake 75 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.

I served it with roasted sweet potatoes the first night (because I had some left over):

and then, last night, the way meatloaf should be served...with mashed potatoes, peas and yes, gravy on the side.

Here's kind of an interesting article about Mortimer's and Glenn Bernbaum:


  1. Your meatlof looks delicious and wonderfully moist! A great dish.



  2. Love your meatloaf...moist, saucy and delicious....yum

  3. When I came to the last photograph, I felt like I was ten years old and sitting down to my mother's table! Bill's recipe sounds a lot like mother's except for the mixture of three meats. Her's was straight beef. This is comfort food at it's designer best in my opinion! And, thanks for the restaurant recommendation for NYC.


  4. It looks amazing with so many comforting flavors. I'll think of this one next time I make meatloaf.

  5. Great looking comfort food! Bill Blass meatloaf looks so moist and saucy!
    hey, if you make Banana Cream pie, how will you fit into Bill Blass Designer jeans?

  6. I remember being shocked when my mother who lived briefly in the US, declared to me that meatloaf tasted better than kafta. Truth be told, when meatloaf is done "right", nothing in the whole world beats it!
    And this one, a la Bill Blass, a bon vivant and fine palate, is the best one I have seen: a classic, definitely.

  7. Oh wow. And this week has been perfect meatloaf weather in Houston. So yummy!

  8. I love meat loag any time of the day or night, with a little gravy and some mashed potatoes.

  9. Barbara...I've served a great meatloaf on several fancy occasions...albeit on a gorgeous serving dish ;o)
    This recipe certainly sounds like a classic winner.

    Never been to the resto in NYC...I do like cozy too ;)

    Ciao for now,

  10. I am so with you, girl! I went to the auction of Bill Blass's NYC apartment. I thought it was the most perfectly decorated place I'd ever seen. Class. The meatloaf is good enough for any company and you are kind to share it with everyone. I never knew Swifty's was named after a dog. I always thought it was an homage to Swifty Lazar... that made me smile;)

  11. I've never heard of Bill Blass but this meatloaf looks wonderful. I hate food snobbery and think any food can be elegant when served in the right way. The restaurant sounds so charming and i'd love to go there on a winter's day and sit snugly in a corner with good food.

  12. What a wonderful meatloaf that is, Barbara! I agree, it's completely company-worthy. Love that last shot with the peas and mash...my mom always served hers like that too! :)

  13. The story behind this dish is fantastic - never knew Bill Blass even cooked! And the recipe? Even better!

  14. I will have to try this one out on my hubby. I think he will love it.

  15. Wow! Who can't get behind meatloaf on a cool fall evening??? This looks delicious!

  16. That is so cool. I would serve it with Katherine Hepburn brownies. Any other celeb dishes???

  17. Barbara, you made them sound so irresistible! And it does look super scurmptious and juicy good. Love the bacon topping. I can almost smell it here. And the leftover even better and tasty after the second day. Thanks and have a wonderful day.

  18. Your meatloaf Barbara look absolutely delicious and nice! x gloria

  19. Wor, it does look juicy and delicious, i wish i can make this one day. Thanks for sharing.

  20. I will definitely try this great meatloaf recipe! I like it served with mashed potatoes and peas mmmm...

  21. I will definitely try this great meatloaf recipe! I like it served with mashed potatoes and peas mmmm...

  22. I know Bill Blass. I didn't know he was a cook also though. I've already put this recipe to my recipes to make pile. Thanks Barbara for this beautiful meatloaf you shared with us.

  23. What an interesting post! I didn't know Bill Blass cooked, and now I have a new restaurant to try the next time I'm in New York. Thanks!

  24. Very interesting Barbara. I love a good meatloaf and this sounds great. Free form is best. I am going to try this.

  25. Oh Bill Blass was so talented!! I have a picture I cut out in a magazine of a room in his country home that was taken many years ago, its still so timeless!!

    This looks great and very moist. My husband just passed by my computer and I showed him the picture of the meatloaf...he wants it for dinner tonight!! :)

    Fun post
    Have a great day

  26. Great post Barbara, loved the trip back for the history of this recipe. His meatloaf looks good. I'll have to give it a try. Love the addition of worcestershire sauce.

  27. I loved the backstory here! So much fun!

  28. Love this recipe and the story behind it. The recipes looks similar to one my mom used when I was a child. Maybe she used this as her inspiration. Thanks for the memory!

  29. I love a good meatloaf but haven't made one in ages. The bacon wrap would add so much moisture and flavor to the meat. Peas and mashed potatoes are the perfect sides. Mouth watering, Barbara.

  30. Thanks for sharing this amazing historic recipe, it proves my belief that everythings better when covered in Bacon...

  31. Dear Barbara,

    I am sorry to have heard about your wrist yet glad that a friend was there to take care of you. Agreed, we are both blessed to have come through those rooms ... better.

    I am not a bacon/pork fan so will try and vary this recipe while retaining the moisture. Bill Blass was elegant simplicity, thank you for sharing this, love, x.

  32. No, Bill Blass's quote on blue jeans will be what I remember about him. That, and some of his designs... I love that Swifty was a dog's name first!

  33. Its been ages since I had meat loaf. For some reason, its not very popular in the UK. Shame. This one you made looks chock full of goodness. And how cool, its a designer recipe :D
    *kisses* HH

  34. Have you seen the meatloaf recipe in Cook's Illustrated? It looks good too. Growing up, I ate meat but meatloaf was not something that was prepared in my home. Quite frankly, it scared me when I saw it at other's homes. I usually like to recognize the meat! But I hear it's a great way to use up left over meat? Is that the case?

  35. I've only ever had meatloaf once and loved it. Yours looks so yummy!!


  36. I loved reading your post. It was very interesting and of course the meatloaf looks great. I want to try this recipe. Ground meat wrapped in bacon has to be delicious.

  37. Hi Barbara,

    I enjoy making meatloaf and it is good for sandwiches the next day too.
    I will write this recipe down as this looks so good.
    I have an old pair of Bill Blass sunglasses.
    My husband made a terrine last night for a pot luck party we are going to in the weekend.
    The smell coming from the kitchen was wonderful.

    Have a happy weekend

  38. It's going to be a wonderful weekend for meatloaf here. Cold! I hadn't heard of Bill Blass' meatloaf recipe before but it sounds delicious. I'm sure I will be very fashionable when I made it too ;)

  39. The bacon wrapping is a great touch. Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite meal is, the answer is always: my mother's meatloaf. Meatloaf is such an understated and wonderful dish. I love so many kinds... but, mom's is the best. This one looks complex with the different meats, and truly made with love. Cannot wait to try it. I have a great meatloaf collection. Whenever I serve it to dinner guests, they always say: why don't we eat this anymore? It is so delicious!

  40. If the meatloaf is worth Bill Blass' talent--and it sure looks like it--it's gotta be amazing. Thanks, Barbara!

  41. Sorry, I don't know Bill Blass, but I do know blue jeans:)

  42. Meatloaf is one of those things that I keep making in an attempt to find the PERFECT recipe! I am so giving this one a shot. Looks delicious.

  43. Meatloaf made well is worthy of haute cuisine--and Mr. Blass' recipe looks fantastic--a good melange of meats,vegetables, and seasonings to make a flavorful meatloaf. Plus, the BACON on top!!

    hope your lunch was memorable

  44. How can I be reading this at 7am and it sounds good to me? Must be some prefect meatloaf you've got here. Thanks for posting the recipe :)

  45. Meatloaf can be ho hum or amazing. Looking at these delicious ingredients makes me yearn for a slice or two... and then some for breakfast.

  46. This looks delicious- I love the bacon on top!

  47. Dear Barbara,

    I don't know who this Bill Blass is (the only Bill I know is Bill Clinton...) but your meatloaf (or his) looks like the type of meal my family adores (me included)! Thanks!!

  48. NOW THAT IS A FASHIONABLE MEATLOAF! ANd I thought mine was good....this is a must try recipe Barbara! And you are so dear to come to visit me! Aren't those photos from the Spanish photographer just amazing? And that red maple tree? I hope you are enjoying your autumn; here in Minneapolis, it is just charming.....enjoy and BON APÉTIT! Anita

  49. I love the chunks of vegetables in the meatloaf! And, I do remember Bill Blass. This is comfort food at its finest!

  50. hi barbara this meat loaf is vezry tempting !!bravo pierre

  51. I.

    Look how MOIST that is! I must try this out. There's something to be said about making your guests feel downhome and comfortable, especially if you, yourself, are world famous.

  52. Sounds like a delicious and flavorful meatloaf, yum!

  53. I knew he could create fashionable clothes. But who knew he could make a mean meatloaf?! Looks totally satisfying.

  54. Barbara, I just had to tell you that I made this last night and it was DELICIOUS! My girls loved it. The chili sauce is a great variation away from regular ketchup or tomato sauce. Thank you and Mr. Blass!

  55. I have tried Mr. Blass`s meatloaf , it was included in a Best of N.Y. Recipes cookbook . Also his very good friend Bru Strausburg made it for me . Absolutely wonderful ! I think using the three different meats contributes to the moistness , plus you can`t go wrong with adding bacon !!!

  56. Ah!!! at last I found what I was looking for. Sometimes it takes so much effort to find even tiny useful piece of information.



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