Chef CJ (Christian Jorgensen) is the chef owner of CJ’s Deli and Diner. His wife Marilyn helps manage the restaurant. CJ’s is an excellent, casual, inexpensive restaurant and catering company in the Kaanapali area of West Maui. I interviewed him at the restaurant in February of 2012, to learn more about his history and the services that the restaurant offers. See the complete interview below.
Interview with Christian Jorgensen February 2012
Jon: When and why did you decide to open CJ’s Deli and Diner?
Chef CJ: I opened CJ’s Deli & Diner in January 2003. I had worked in the corporate world for fifteen years and was working too many holidays and too many hours! I wanted to have my own restaurant and be able to leave in the afternoon for a couple of hours to coach my daughter’s soccer team. I also recognized the need for affordable eating on the West Side of Maui.
Jon: What does your wife Marilyn do in the restaurant?
Chef CJ: Marilyn is the manager. She has a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Penn State University. She loves meeting our customers and they love meeting her.
Jon: Did you have other restaurants before CJ’s, or work at other restaurants before CJ’s?
Chef CJ: I have worked for Hilton in Chicago, Hyatt in Guam and Macau, and Westin in Maui. I was originally a sous chef and worked my way up to Executive Chef.
Jon: How long have you lived on Maui? Did you work in restaurants in other places before Maui?
Chef CJ: I have lived in Maui since October 1998. I worked in Denmark, Switzerland, Chicago, Guam, Macau, and now Maui.
Jon: What do people like about CJ’s Deli & Diner?
Chef CJ: People enjoy the casual ambience with homemade cooking. We specialize in comfort food that is affordable. Our menu is extensive and caters to all tastes. People also like our Hana Lunch Box ($12 complete lunch with a styrofoam cooler to take to beach, Hana, gardens, parks, fishing, airplane, or anywhere on Maui).
Jon: What are your most popular foods?
Chef CJ: At breakfast it’s the All American with 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, and meat (bacon, sausage), or the Fully Loaded Omelette with potatoes and biscuit. At lunch and dinner the most popular are the Classic Rueben, Hot Pastrami, Mocchiko Chicken, Pineapple Fried Rice, and Mango Ribs.
Jon: What do people like about your catering services?
Chef CJ: People like our adaptability – we cater small parties of 2 on the beach to large weddings with 75 people. We offer creative menu planning with attention to detail. Guests like doing their planning with me and knowing that I will be there on the day of their event to ensure that it is the wonderful event that they had dreamed of.
Jon: What are the most popular catering items?
Chef CJ: People enjoy our food cooked fresh on the grill at their catering event. People really enjoy the live interaction with the chef and guests.
Jon: Do you cater all over Maui? Just the west side? Or where?
Chef CJ: We do cater events all over Maui – South side, Makena, Kula, and primarily the West Side.
Jon: What is the minimum and maximum size groups for which you cater?
Chef CJ: 2 people to thousands (such as the Hyundai golf tournament and Maui Invitational basketball tournament)
Jon: Do you serve the food when you cater, or just drop it off?
Chef CJ: We offer full service catering with servers, bartenders, and CJ as the planner/coordinator (especially with weddings). Drop off and pick up caterings are also available.
Jon: Do you cater in hotel rooms, condo rooms, at parks, on the beach, where else?
Chef CJ: Most of our catering occurs at private estates (Olawalu Plantation House, Sugarman Estate, El Dorado Cabana, White House Estate). We also cater in guest’s suites at their condo/hotel and resorts.
Jon: What else would you like to tell Maui visitors about your restaurant or your catering?
Chef CJ: CJ’s Deli serves gourmet food at affordable prices. We have guests come to Maui for 10 days and eat 7 meals at CJ’s. Our menu is so extensive that our guests will come in several times and try something new each time. We are very blessed to have so many repeat customers as well (some guests come every year to Maui and always eat at CJ’s).
Jon: What would you like to tell Maui visitors about yourself?
Chef CJ: I grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark and attended culinary school there. I did my internship in Interlaken, Switzerland. I moved to Chicago and met my wife Marilyn (we have been married for 20 years). I have 2 daughters (15 and 13) and enjoy teaching them to cook and making beautiful meals for them too. I have traveled extensively and enjoy preparing food from many different cuisines. Cooking is a passion for me and I like to share that passion with my customers.