Talking Chicken & Waffle Pop-Ups, Cooking, & The Other Pursuits of Reuben “Big Rube” Harley

B: Do you have a chicken and waffle spot in Philly?
R: No, no. Nobody in Philly does it the way I do it. I’ve heard other people have it on their menu. I haven’t been there to taste it…but when I have it, people come out and they walk away ordering another for takeout. That’s a great compliment.

courtesy of Reuben Harley.

courtesy of Reuben Harley.

B: What makes your chicken and waffles special?
R: Just the love, the sweet and savory combination I put to it. You’re going to taste a great sweet waffle that’s well toasted and soft in the middle. A light, crunchy double battered piece of chicken that’s spiced all over. The chicken sits in my brine with my special spice blend for 28 hours. I have people tell me that they don’t like breast meat when it comes to fried chicken but they love eating mine ‘cause it’s so tender and juicy.

B: Sounds like you’ve got the crunch going on with the chicken and waffle, which is awesome. The sweetness of the waffle which complements the fat in the chicken’s fried coating, and the spices bouncing off of that.
R: And I do a [blended] strawberry butter. [I take] Amish butter at room temperature and I make a strawberry compound butter that sits on top of the sweet waffle. You just combine it all on the fork and go for it.

B: Anything else you’d like to say about your waffles?
R: Oh yeah, the waffle iron is from the 40’s. I bought it from a guy off of Craigslist. He never used it. When I went and met him out in King of Prussia, he plugged it in for me, and I paid $75 bucks for it. That thing, it cranks out.

B: Final point: I guess you would look at an unused waffled iron the same way you would an unused camera.
R: Yeah. When it’s done well, you get the [right] end result. When you meet somebody and they compliment the camera more, it’s like anybody can have a great camera, but it’s your eye that makes the image. Anybody can have great equipment but if you don’t know what to do with it….You can have the sharpest Ginsu knives but if you don’t know how to fillet that steak well, it doesn’t matter. So you know the tools are great, but the talent behind it defines everything.


Chef Reuben Harley
Chicken & Waffles
Toast Philly (corner of 12th & Spruce)
January 27th

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