Chef on Call … for chicken tenders

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Chef on Call
812-130 Columbia Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 0G6
(519) 342-6464

[Published previously]
Yes. Chicken tenders.

Wander the wide and open walkway below the towering multiple-storey residences that form an urban canyon of steel, glass and concrete off of Columbia Street near University of Waterloo and you’ll find Chef on Call.

It’s an interesting business that got its start in a student dorm in Montreal about 10 years ago. Founder Gabe Malbogat and business partner Rob Kauffman expanded to Waterloo and opened this newest Chef on Call a couple of years ago.

Download the app, and get free food delivery. While, not unexpectedly given its location, the primary business is serving the late-night student-grub delivery demographic and catering to tech businesses in the area, Chef on Call has also been doing a brisk walk-in business.

With either mode, Malbogat wants to serve a better quality of quick-service comfort food to a variety of Waterloo customers.

“We were in university in Montreal, and we were ordering sub-par food. We wanted to deliver a fresh product to students who were up late, so we created Chef on Call,” he says.

The menu, developed with the idea of getting well-prepared hot food to their app on customers’ smartphones, breaks down into about a dozen sections, from sandwiches and wraps to pastas, poutines and, in a category of its own, jumbo chicken tenders.

I certainly remember serving them to the kids. We called them chicken strips or “chicken fingers,” and for me the tenders easily qualify as a plate of nostalgia, a comfort food that transcends generations. And, yes, served with fries (try the curly fries) and home-made honey-Dijon dipping sauce, they’re pretty damn good.

Panko-breaded daily (Photo/

Four chunky pieces are $12, and there’s a walk-in special of three jumbo tenders, fries, a beverage and your choice from eight dipping sauces for $10. Try the burgers and milkshakes too. (Interestingly, in Montreal, they will serve nearly 300 shakes a day.)

Panko-breaded and hot and crisp – I had them in the spacious wood and concrete dining room that can hold a couple dozen guests rather than delivered – the chicken tenders are a favourite selection, he says. “They’re a staple and have been on the menu since the beginning in Montreal. They put us on the map,” says Malbogat.

A key reason the chicken is so good is that the boneless, skinless jumbo tenders are breaded freshly each day – by hand – and are not cooked from frozen. (I saw them in the fridge.) “We pay close attention to our inventory level so that we are making them fresh daily,” he adds. “We really take a grassroots approach.”

The tenders are seasoned with spices and a secret ingredient along with toasted Japanese panko breadcrumbs before being fried for terrific crunch. Inside, the cooked chicken is moist and tender.

“Chicken tenders are the best,” says Malbogat, adding his own bit of nostalgia. “I love them and have been eating them for ten years.”

Chef on Call is open for take-out and delivery only.

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