Jeff In Jefferson

Chicken & Waffles

Chicken & Waffles

By Jeff Campbell / Jeff In Jefferson

Chicken and Waffles? It seems like a strange combination. The origin of “Chicken & Waffles” is lost in history and tangled in folklore. Thomas Jefferson, the Pennsylvania Dutch and Southern slaves have all been bestowed as originators of chicken & waffles. When we fast forward to the twentieth century folklore is stripped away and facts are revealed about the history of chicken & waffles.

Chicken & waffles first took center stage during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Harlem, New York became the focal point for African American singers, musicians, poets and writers. All of these creative types were making a pilgrimage to Harlem to stake a claim to their piece of the artistic limelight.

As the renaissance gained momentum, Harlem became the cradle of jazz music and jazz caught on like wildfire spreading across the world. Harlem boasted now historic venues like the Cotton Club and The Savoy Ballroom. Harlem quickly became one of America’s hot spots for musical entertainment. Jazz orchestras and swing bands routinely made Harlem a highlight on their tours. “Count” Basie, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong all called Harlem home during the Renaissance.

Concerts and parties would last late into the night and early morning. This resulted in many of the Harlem restaurants staying open late to cater to the musicians, stage hands and patrons. These restaurants, with their deep south cooking traditions, decided to offer a combination of dinner and breakfast for these wee hour customers. Thus “Chicken and Waffles” became a Harlem culinary mainstay.

Today Jefferson’s Cork Yard restaurant carries on the “Chicken and Waffle” tradition, with their own spin. Instead of offering “Chicken and Waffles” after midnight, the Cork Yard offers “Chicken and Waffles” as part of their Sunday Gospel Brunch. We hope to see you this Sunday for “Chicken and Waffles” in Jefferson. The Cork Yard is located on Austin Street just across from the Jefferson General Store.

Photo by The Cork Yard

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