How Did Utica’s Chicken Riggies Become Famous Anyway?
Spicy peppers, mushrooms, olives, creamy sauce, chicken, and a whole lotta love! What's not to love about Utica's signature dish?!
I first tried Chicken Riggies fifteen years ago. My grandfather introduced them to me at Chesterfield's restaurant. It was love at first bite! I couldn't understand why my sweet grandmother opted out of this delicious dish. Why in the world would she choose to eat crackers and milk over this master chef's creation! My grandfather used to refer to me as "ton of bricks" because of my insatiable appetite. That night at Chesterfield's, not only did I eat my Riggies, I also engulfed a portion of my sister's, and my grandfather's as well!
If you've tried them, there's an excellent chance that you love them! Chesterfield's has been in business since 1941 and Chicken Riggies have been on their menu for nearly 25 years. Here's how they came to be: The owner of Chesterfield's, Salvatore Borruso had a chef working for him at the time named Michael. He was an expert at creating his own unique dishes; including Chicken Riggies! One evening, Michael gave him a taste of the spicy cuisine and Salvatore exclaimed: "It's delicious, what is this?!" Michael said "its Chicken Riggies. I created a new dish and here it is! Can I run this as a special tonight?" Salvatore said yes, and the rest is riggistory! Here's his story:
"We sold a ton of them and it snowballed and, before you know it, we were selling over 20 orders a week. People were coming from all over the city and it went from people coming from all over the city to people coming from all over the state. And now we actually have people from L.A. that come in here, Chicago, they come from all over and they've heard of the dish and they're in town on business or on a family vacation and they stop in to have them."
There's no denying that Chesterfield's Riggies are awesome! However, the "who really invented them" debate has been a hot topic for years!
The origin of "riggies" have been disputed and lost in time. Many of the chefs from the Utica area seem to have a claim to the dish, yet there seems to be no clear idea who was the originator.In one version of the origin, Bobby Hazelton came up with chicken riggies when he and Richie Scamardo owned the Clinton House restaurant in the strip mall in Clinton.
Regardless of who actually deserves the credit for creating this amazing dish, there's one thing everybody can agree on, they were born and raised in Utica, NY!