What is Jidori Chicken


#1

In the early 1990s, Dennis Mao … believed there was an American market for Jidori-style, organic, free-range birds. He started Mao Foods to deliver a high-quality, cage-free bird without hormones, steroids, or meat byproducts within 24 hours of slaughter. Unlike Kobe, known for its marbled fat, freshness is the real difference between jidori-style and factory-raised chickens.


Return to Sender - New York's NoMad Arrives in L.A. - Mezzanine [Thoughts + Pics]
#2

Jidori-style

I understand this refers to a method of raising and slaughtering the chickens, but no matter how much I’ve googled over the past few years, I’ve never found any information about the actual breed they use.


#3

Mao Foods trademarked Jidori in the US. It’s not any particular breed. I believe they contract with multiple chicken farms, along the lines of Niman Ranch.


#4

They don’t explicitly obligate themselves to a 24 hours-or-under guarantee. However, the way they’ve worded it, I think the reasonable implication is that they do things on the same day. They say they start in the morning, and deliver the birds “immediately” - a reasonable interpretation of “immediately” suggests that it’s done by day-end (I’m assuming that it doesn’t take more than a work-day’s worth of work to have the chicken delivered, but that may not be correct in the industry terminology, I don’t know). Perhaps technically, they can deliver a bird the next day and still call it “immediate?”

And it seems that Dennis Mao’s company Jidori Chicken, which has trademarked the name “Jidori,” is jidori-style but isn’t necessarily the only provider of jidori chickens. That is, “jidori” is a style (not a guarantee provenance, anyway), and not all of the jidori chickens worldwide are in fact from Dennis Mao’s company. However, he has trademarked the name so that people can’t legally call a chicken not from his company by the name “Jidori Chicken”…even if another one were to use a different jidori chicken? Am I misinterpreting this? (sorry, long day, didn’t eat lunch).

From this Seattle Pi article: (https://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/food/article/On-Food-Jidori-translates-First-class-freshness-1229497.php)

"Cut to L.A., circa 1991, when an enterprising young man named Dennis Mao realized there was a niche to fill after the best Japanese chefs in the city started demanding Hinai-jidori chickens. Because he couldn’t import the chickens, he decided to develop a bird of equal quality.

Mao established Mao Foods and contracted with farms in the Central Valley to grow an all-natural, free-range chicken. According to Mao’s site, jidorichicken.com, the birds get no hormones, steroids or meat byproducts.

They aren’t like a special breed, and I’m not massaging those chickens,” Mao quipped. “I wish it were more glamorous, but it’s just a good-quality bird that gets to you in less than 24 hours.

The major differences between the American jidori and an all-natural bird from another company is the time it takes to get from slaughter to table and the condition in which it gets there. The jidori is never frozen and is overnighted to customers outside L.A. Other chickens may be frozen or nearly frozen in order to make the trip to distribution centers, which then deliver to stores, a process that may be weeks versus one day.

Mao is hard-pressed, however, to distinguish his chickens from ones raised sustainably by small organic farms and bought locally from the farmer.

“His bird will be just as tasty,” acknowledged Mao, who said most of his customers are European or Asian chefs who place particular value on the “alive this morning” ethic.

While his chickens aren’t Hinai-jidori, they are raised and processed in what Mao calls “the spirit of jidori.”

It’s similar to the distinction between Kobe beef from Japan and the “Kobe-style” American Wagyu beef, or French champagne versus American sparkling. Nothing compares to the original, but domestic interpretations can be pretty tasty.

The jidori is billed by local wholesalers as the Kobe beef of chickens, though it’s a bit of a misnomer, because the crowning glory of the American Wagyu is the marbling in the meat and the jidori is known simply for its never-frozen freshness and how fast it gets to the customer, not its fat content" (bold emphasis added)

It seems that “Jidori” in America is not about provenance, but in the quick-delivery style, which some have said happens within 24 hours, even though the website does not explicitly state that.

What if a farm to table restaurant in the US has their own farm, and produces a chicken, like Mao, that’s not actually Hinai-jidori but rather also raised and processed in the “spirit of jidori?” Can they not legally call it “Jidori Chicken” on their menu due to his trademark?


#5

That concept exists live and well in VN cooking too. It just never had a fancy name.


#6

you have unearthed at least 50% of the mystique of french and japanese cuisine.


#7

In the US, only Mao Foods can use the trademarked term “Jidori chicken,” which is weird given that it’s not Jidori by the Japanese definition.


#8

I was just about to link to that, too. His trademark doesn’t extend to Japan, I’m quite sure, but it therefore sounds like he’s borrowed the concept from Japan and taken legal ownership of the name here. I wonder if Mao can argue that his brand has achieved secondary meaning for the term “jidori,” even though his chickens are admittedly not actual jidori (at least not by the definition of how its name ostensibly became recognizable). Further, the qualities which he champions with his chickens here - free range, slaughtered immediately, etc. - are not sufficient conditions for what would seemingly constitute “jidori” (until perhaps he obtained his trademark). “Jidori” seems to be a descriptive mark, but perhaps the real issue is that the American public doesn’t know any better, really.

I’m not an intellectual property attorney, but if “jidori” here is really just the “spirit” of a process and is something vaguely referencing a popular name elsewhere, how can he corner the name (not legally, I mean, in principle) and prevent others from using it - even though conceivably one can serve a chicken that is just as (or perhaps even more) “jidori” as that of Mao Foods’? For example, what if a US restaurant obtained FDA clearance to bring in a true jidori chicken from Japan - can that restaurant not use the name “jidori chicken” on its menu? Weird…


#9

The Japanese agency that regulates Jidori compliance could sue Mao Foods if they cared. To my knowledge, chicken is not imported from Japan, in which case it’s sort of a moot point.

@ipsedixit, maybe this chicken tangent should be split off to home cooking?


#10

"His goal since the beginning has been to provide poultry to restaurant kitchens within 24 hours of processing.

Technically speaking, what Mao produces from his Los Angeles-based plant would not be considered jidori in Japan, where the term originated and where it pairs with a specific region. The classification compares to Champagne producers who insist that label should only be placed on bottles from their part of France. But to his customers, his birds are the American version of jidori, they tell him.

His insistence on a 24-hour order-to-delivery window means Mao’s business can only grow so far. But he argues that his approach is for quality, not quantity. “In most of Southern California, if we get the order in the morning, it is delivered by that afternoon,” he asserts." (bold emphasis added)

I think I’ll leave this issue alone for now. Just my curiosity derailing the thread a bit.

So much chicken talk:


#11

Jidori has two trademark registrations for Jidori (standard word mark and design mark), and three for other marks incorporating the term for “Poultry; poultry parts.”

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4803:lxdk8i.2.5

It would be interesting if someone imported the Himai-jidori breed
and decided to challenge the registrations.


#12

My understanding is that it’s not associated with a region, it just means birds that are over 50% native breed, which is to say, no more than 49% imported breeds.


#13

I think that all jidori is not by definition associated with one region in particular. However, there are jidori “brands” produced in different regions. E.g. maybe it’s like wagyu, which does not come from one region in particular, but there are many regions producing wagyu e.g. matsuzaka-gyu, omi-gyu, miyazaki-gyu, etc. all region-specific.

There are several jidori breeds discussed in the link above. Specifically:

“The Jidori classification includes three or more breeds. The three major Jidori breeds are the Tosa-Kojidori (Japanese Old Type-Tosa), Gifu-Jidori (Japanese Old Type-Gifu), and Mie-Jidori (Japanese Old Type-Mie).” (bold emphasis added)


#14

Glad you guys have moved over to Home Cooking. It needs reviving, and judging by the Chicken talk on the NoMad thread there’s a few fantastic cooks on this board.