Fried Chicken Fest at South Beach Food & Wine Chicken Coupe

Fried Chicken Fest at South Beach Food & Wine Chicken Coupe
2014 South Beach Food & Wine Chicken Coupe
2014 South Beach Food & Wine Chicken Coupe

Burger Bash gets much of the attention during the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and for good reason, but for two years now there’s been a great new event held in the Ballroom at the W South Beach, Chicken Coupe, hosted this year by chef Andrew Carmellini. It doesn’t hurt that attendees have been able to quaff at stations serving Moet Chandon, Nicolas Feuillatte, G.H. Mumm, Champagne Henriot, Lucaris, Pol Roger, Pommery, and Veuve Clicquot; and fried chicken from the likes of Elizabeth Karmel (Hill Country Chicken, New York), Clayton Miller (Yardbird, Miami Beach), Asha Gomez (Cardamom Hill, Atlanta), Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, N.C.), Linton Hopkins (Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta), and Gavin Kaysen (Café Boulud, New York).

Breasts and thighs, buttermilk-brined there were all kinds of different fried chicken presentations. There were chickwiches, chicken with biscuits, red-eye and giblet gravy, grits and mac and cheese, drizzled with honey, seasoned with Old Bay, pickled green tomato chow-chow, pepper jelly, fried okra pickles, and jalapeño slaw. Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill in Atlanta served the Kerala fried chicken she became so well-known for after serving it at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, and Giorgio Rapicavoli of eating house in Coral Cables, Fla. even took a stab at a rendition of General Tso chicken and waffles.

The event was a bit of a showcase for festival impresario Lee Brian Schrager whose upcoming cookbook “Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides” is set for a May release (he spent a good deal of time researching it on some fried chicken tours last year). But the 2014 Chicken Coupe event may have best showcased the fried chicken of chef Karl Worley, a relative newcomer to the scene whose Nashville hot chicken with watermelon salad and thinly-shaved pickles (unfortunately one of the few non-bread and butter versions at the event) was a standout dish at a sold-out event.

Chef Worley, who has been serving his Nashville hot chicken for less than two years in Nashville out of his Biscuit Love Truck shared some details about himself and the lore around the origins of this iconic dish."Nashville hot chicken is traditionally bone-in fried chicken dipped in a cayenne and oil based liquid to add heat."

How did you get the truck started to begin with and when?
The truck started 18 months ago after much deliberation on a concept. I originally wanted to start a hot chicken truck, but my wife talked me into a biscuit-based truck. I am glad I listened, because our feedback has been great, and I get a chance to share my grandmother’s biscuits to people every day.

For the unititiated, what is Nashville hot chicken?
Nashville hot chicken is traditionally bone-in fried chicken dipped in a cayenne and oil based liquid to add heat.

How is it prepared?
The chicken is fried (some places still use cast iron skillets, which in my opinion is the best way) and then dunked into the cayenne mixture. It is traditionally served sitting on top of white bread and topped with dill pickle slices.

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