Which came first doesn’t matter at The Chicken or the Egg — they’re both on the menu
By Jessica Koslow
A large, lively crowd has gathered at the east end of Millennium Drive to eat chicken. Mingling in the big yellow space at the bottom of a parking structure facing Campus Center Drive, the enthusiastic foodies chat, nibble on pastries and wait to sample some of the goodies on what is soon to be The Chicken or the Egg’s menu — like “The Reason the Road Was Crossed,” a sandwich with crispy organic free-range chicken, honey Sriracha remoulade and radish-cabbage slaw.
“Chicken is undergoing a renaissance,” says Hunter Pritchett, chef partner of The Chicken or the Egg. “Americans are eating more chicken every year.”
Sean Krajewski, the founder of this farm-to-table concept, is walking around the well-attended preview party — as is actor, ex-Laker and investor Rick Fox. Pritchett is plating the tasty bites for passed hors d’oeuvres.
The idea for The Chicken or the Egg belongs to Krajewski. For the past 10 years, he’s been working with Mendocino Farms, first as a manager of the original store and eventually as an equity partner in the restaurant group. He only left in April of this year. It was at Mendocino Farms that Krajewski met Pritchett, who was the restaurant’s concept chef.
Pritchett arrived in Los Angeles four years ago from Denver, where he worked for Frank Bonanno as the executive chef at Luca D’Italia. Since landing in L.A., he has worked at Son of a Gun, with Gordon Ramsay on his television shows, and spent time at Culver City’s Waterloo & City, which closed last year.
“Hunter is an incredibly talented chef,” Krajewski says, “but he also understands the business of restaurants, which is so rare in chefs.”
Pritchett lives up to this claim when he speaks about why the two chose chicken.
“In the last couple of years, chicken has seen astronomical growth in the restaurant market,” he explains. “Looking at Shake Shack, when they added a fried chicken sandwich to their menu, it increased the bottom line of their sales by 8% in every store that offered chicken.”
Krajewski adds: “We chose chicken because, in our opinion, it’s the direction that people are eating. We loved the fact that we could source some of the best quality product on the planet, right here in California. We liked the idea that you can truly combine health and flavor using chicken as your base.”
The list of reasons for choosing chicken continues: “It’s a lighter, cleaner protein and more water wise,” says Pritchett. “We want people to come in three-and-a-half to four times a week and not feel laden, like they’re falling asleep on their keyboard. Turkey makes you fall asleep. Fish is not for everyone.”
The Chicken or the Egg is a pioneer on its plaza. Before it opened in September there was just a coffee kiosk. Across the way is Fullscreen, and at the corner is Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company. And, observed Pritchett during the preview, there are surprisingly few places to eat in the immediate area.
“It was kind of shocking to see so few dining options for such a dynamic web campus,” says Pritchett. “I see a lot of Tupperware, and we aim to change that. I think we’re getting in on the ground floor (literally) of something really good.”
Even though the restaurant is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Pritchett sees a wide-open lane for breakfast, which is served all day.
“Breakfast is thrown to wolves of the drive-thru,” he says. “There’s a huge niche ready to be carved out in fast breakfast.”
A good portion of their business will be corporate catering. As Pritchett explains, “Catering is a satisfied customer plus advertising.”
The Chicken or the Egg’s menu ranges from a classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich to a smoked salmon and avocado toast to the heartier steak and eggs. It offers a good amount of veggies, like sweet and smoky cauliflower. There are barbecue and Cobb salads, sides — including waffle fries, spicy tater tots, grilled sweet corn, maple Brussels sprouts, and bacon cheddar biscuits — and a specially priced meal for little chicks. Diners can also order crispy chicken buckets: two or four-pieces with a choice of side.
For all of the workers tired of Tupperware — and local residents, too — The Chicken or the Egg is making Millennium Drive a lot more appetizing.
The Chicken or the Egg is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 12150 Millennium Drive. Call (424) 228-4950 for menu or catering information.