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What is the history of the Carpetbag Steak?

The Carpetbag Steak is a dish that has a storied and somewhat mysterious history that dates back to the 19th century. Although the exact origins of the dish are not well documented, it is believed to have originated in Australia during the time when travelers would carry their belongings in large "carpet bags". The dish is made by stuffing a large cut of steak with oysters, which were plentiful in Australia, and then grilling or broiling the steak to perfection.


The name "carpetbag steak" likely stems from the large, bulky bags that travelers would carry, which were often made from carpet material. These bags were used by travelers to carry their belongings, and they became synonymous with the nomadic lifestyle of the time. It is said that the dish was created as a way for travelers to enjoy a hearty meal that was easy to prepare, and that the oysters added a unique flavor to the steak.

Victoria was a hub of activity during the 19th century, and it was a popular destination for travelers, settlers, and merchants. The state was also known for its rich culinary traditions, and it was home to many of the best restaurants and dining establishments in Australia. It is likely that the carpetbag steak was introduced to the state during this time and became popular among the locals and travelers alike.

The gold rush in Victoria took place in the mid-19th century, and during this time, the state was experiencing a significant increase in population as people flocked to the area in search of gold. During this time, there were many new restaurants and dining establishments being established to cater to the growing population, and it is possible that the carpetbag steak was introduced to the state during this period.


The dish became popular in Australia, and soon made its way to other parts of the world, including the United States and Europe. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the dish was a popular item on the menus of many fine dining establishments, particularly in large cities like New York and London. It was often served with a sauce or gravy, and was considered a luxury dish that was reserved for special occasions.

Indeed there are recipes of Carpetbag Steak in Australia in the 1890s, for example in the South Australian Chronicle Dec 6 1890.

Despite its popularity, the exact history of the carpetbag steak remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. There are few written records of its origins, and many of the stories about the dish are passed down through word of mouth. This has led to some confusion and disagreement about the exact origin and history of the dish. Some believe that it was invented by Australian settlers, while others believe that it was brought to Australia by European travelers.

Regardless of its origins, the carpetbag steak remains a popular dish today. It can be found in steak houses and fine dining establishments all over the world, and it remains a favorite of those who appreciate the unique combination of flavors and textures that the dish offers. Many modern variations of the dish have been created, including versions that use different types of meat and seafood, as well as different stuffing ingredients.


In conclusion, the carpetbag steak is a dish with a rich and fascinating history that spans several continents and many years. Although its exact origins are not well documented, it is clear that the dish has been enjoyed by diners for generations and continues to be a favorite of those who appreciate hearty, flavorful cuisine. Whether you are a fan of the classic version of the dish or prefer a more contemporary take on this classic dish, there is no denying the enduring appeal of the carpetbag steak.