The fried-chicken-and-breakfast niche continues to heat up with this month’s debut of The Chicken or the Egg in Los Angeles.
To be located in the “Silicon Beach” neighborhood of Playa Vista, known as a hub for well-heeled tech industry workers, the Chicken or the Egg is the brainchild of two alums of the fast-casual Mendocino Farms sandwich chain.
Hunter Pritchett, who was previously corporate brand chef for Mendocino Farms, is the partner and head chef of the Chicken or the Egg, along with Sean Krajewski, who was a regional director of operations.
The two have designed the Chicken or the Egg as a scalable concept, offering breakfast and lunch and featuring egg-based and chicken sandwiches using premium ingredients, like organic eggs from Chino Valley Ranchers, artisan bread from local bakery BreadBar and organic and free-range chicken from Mary’s in central California.
“We’re taking note of how people eat,” Pritchett explains. “People can eat here several times a week without feeling super unhealthy or having to get a pilates membership. It’s not a health food concept, but also not hyper gluttonous.”
A signature breakfast sandwich, for example, is a basic bacon, egg and cheese. But it will be an organic cage-free egg “with a really dark yolk,” Pritchett says, and prime bacon with a sweet-smoky maple glaze. An organic, hydroponic tomato, grown for year-round quality and caramelized, is added, along with a cheddar-cheese crisp that adds texture rather than gooey melted cheese.
All is wrapped in a brioche that is appropriately sized for an egg sandwich to guarantee the right filling-to-bread ratio, Pritchett says.
“We want to elevate all the elements of this and present the guest with an awesome package,” he adds.
The fried chicken — “the reason the road was crossed,” Pritchett points out — is soaked in a buttermilk brine with herbs and pickle juice and breaded in a gluten-free mix, then fried. The sandwiches are served with a “super slaw” made with nutrient-rich collard greens, kale, watermelon radish, red onion and cabbage.
For vegans, there will be a cauliflower steak sandwich with a Buffalo-like sauce, topped with a ranch-based slaw.
The gluten-free breading, made with potato starch and tortilla flour, produces a supremely crisp chicken patty that travels well, he says.
That’s important, because the Chicken or the Egg is designed for delivery as well, using a third-party delivery firm. That element will be part of the concept’s DNA as it grows.
“Third-party delivery has become a reality, so you need to think forward in how you get around it,” notes Pritchett.
Sandwiches will be in the $10 range, and future locations could potentially include alcohol, though that won’t be part of the debut location. The concept will not serve traditional fountain drinks, but will offer Boylan sodas, along with orange juice and lemonades.
The coffee will be Stumptown brand, with both hot and cold brew nitro-charged drinks available.
The Chicken or the Egg joins a growing number of fried-chicken sandwich and breakfast concepts coming from the West Coast, including Crack Shack in San Diego, along with both Starbird and Organic Coup in Northern California.
Pritchett hopes to capture the Los Angeles market for fried chicken sandwiches and breakfast. Traditional breakfast concepts have been offering the same thing for a long time, and consumers are looking for something new, he notes.
“I really think with some aggressive real estate, careful recipe work, and taking everything we’ve learned progressively and putting it behind this concept, we can be right in the middle of that,” Pritchett adds.
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