There are only a handful of foods on earth that inspire a fierce, loyal devotion. On Friday, October 18th, two of those foods, burgers and fried chicken, had lavish events devoted entirely to them during the New York Wine and Food Festival: the Burger Bash and Chicken Coupe. At the Chicken Coupe, which was hosted at Chelsea Piers by none other than Whoopi Goldberg, more than 20 of the country’s finest purveyors of fried chicken served their finest offerings, and there was plenty of champagne to wash it all down.
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“Fried chicken is so great because if feels like someone you love is giving you a hug when you take a bite,” Hill Country pitmaster Elizabeth Karmel, who also runs fried chicken-centric Hill Country Chicken and was serving a fried chicken “dog” on a bun, told us. The sentiment was echoed by Food Network’s Sandwich King Jeff Mauro, who coincidentally told us that “every bite of fried chicken is like a bear hug from a favorite aunt.”
“Fried chicken is so great because if feels like someone you love is giving you a hug when you take a bite.” Elizabeth Karmel
Food Network’s Sunny Anderson was also on hand, serving spicy peanut butter and jelly wings, from a recipe featured in her new cookbook. “This is truly a Comic Con for food people,” she told us. As for why she believes fried chicken is such a magical food, she said, “When you eat with your hands, it relaxes you. The first thing I made on the network was fried chicken, on Emeril Live, so it really has a special place in my heart.”
Also there to show off their fried chicken prowess were the folks behind Miami’s Yardbird, who served chicken on a biscuit; Willow Road served a sweet tea and lemon fried chicken; Philadelipha’s Federal Donuts served a twice-fried chicken thigh with Shabazi-spice seasoning; The Redhead served a buttermilk fried chicken roulade; Sweet Chick served General Tso’s fried chicken and waffles; and Peels served classic fried chicken with Tuscan Kale slaw.
Before John legend took the stage, Goldberg announced the event's winners: a tie between Yardbird's chicken biscuit and Brooklyn's Peaches Hothouse's fried chicken with chow chow.
“This festival just reinforces the idea that New York City is the best food city in the world, and this is coming from someone who’s from Chicago,” chef Dale Talde, who served his eponymous restaurant’s spicy fried chicken, added. “I have a serious emotional attachment to fried chicken. Nothing makes me feel better after a bad day.”
After leaving the event (which was highlighted by a solo set from John Legend and plenty of free-flowing Champagne), one thing was certainly clear: if you were having a bad day when it started, you weren’t by the time it ended.