A Visit with Executive Chef AJ

A Visit with Executive Chef AJ Monday, March 13, 2017

If you’ve been following along here on our Blog, you’ll notice we do things a little differently than the average restaurant and we definitely do things differently than the typical diner. What sets The Original Dinerant apart from the “typical” is our approach to the menu and the many ways Chef AJ and our team turns “classic” items into unique and distinct dishes that you can only get at The OG. Whether it’s an old family recipe, a modern twist on a traditional preparation or utilizing local ingredients and products, our kitchen is always creating plates that become original dishes our guests come back for time and time again.


One recent addition to our revamped Dinner menu is the highly popular Chicken & Waffles. This classic dish is typically seen on breakfast and brunch menus and is served in a fairly straightforward way. Our version is nothing typical and even in the preparation – we confit our chicken for optimal flavor and richness – our dish is featured at dinner time and has fast become a signature to what we do.


We also use local purveyor Tillamook Dairy cheddar cheese in the waffle batter and we smoke our maple syrup for an added layer of flavor. The confit, quality cheddar cheese, jalapenos and smoky syrup are all extra components that make this dish truly special. These added touches and processes deliver a more complex dish and are the perfect example of how our menu is a combination of creations from the kitchen that from A to Z involve different steps to make our comfort food truly special.


We had the chance to visit with Executive Chef AJ to find out a little more about this creative and delicious dish.


Q: How did this dish originate?

AJ: I came up with the idea after wanting to change up our fried chicken.  Everyone does fried chicken, very few do fried chicken well. I decided to do chicken confit instead (duck confit is one of my most favorite foods of all time).


Q: Cheddar (Tillamook) and Jalapeños are in the waffles…how did that come about?

AJ: This waffle idea came from a brunch special that I made – a waffle upon which I added chiles, cheese, bacon and eggs into the waffle.  This then morphed into Our Chicken and Waffles.


Q: Confit Chicken has so much flavor – briefly describe that process with the confit.

AJ: We rub down the chicken legs with salt, chopped garlic and chopped thyme. This is allowed to sit on the legs for two days.  We give the chicken legs a quick rinse.  We cover the legs with a mixture of chicken fat and olive oil, and slowly cook the legs until tender.  We then fry the legs until crispy.  The meat is very tender and the skin is super crispy.


Q: And the smoked syrup element? How do you smoke it and how do you make the syrup?

AJ: We smoke the pure maple syrup for 2 hours in our smoker, on property, at The OG.


Q: When enjoying the dish at dinner if you could add something or drink something with this dish what would it be?

AJ: I love black coffee with it, and our barrel aged Manhattan is DEEElicious with it. Also a glass of bubbles goes really well with the richness too.


Q: We saw this dish featured recently on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and host and food personality Guy Fieri loved the dish…describe that moment.

AJ: Guy kept saying that it was a contender for top fried chicken he has ever eaten.  He kept eating it, wouldn’t stop.  We were his third stop of the day and he had eaten a lot of food that day.  It was a huge compliment to hear him say that.  Also, the film crew said you can tell he really loved it because he wouldn’t stop eating it.


You can enjoy our Chicken and Waffles seven days/nights a week at The Original Dinerant and we can’t wait for it to become a favorite of yours as well.