Fried Chicken Fest At South Beach Food & Wine Chicken Coupe

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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.[pullquote:right]

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.

Are there any stories around its beginnings that you're aware of?
Urban legend states that Mr. Prince was catting around on his girlfriend and one morning he requested fried chicken for breakfast. Feeling a little vindictive, she fried his chicken then dunked it into the frying lard she had generously seasoned with cayenne. She served the chicken to him, and he actually loved it. Fast forward 50 years, and Prince's Hot Chicken is still the most beloved hot chicken shack in Nashville and Mr. Prince's great-grandneice is still setting Nashville on fire with her amazing fried chicken.

Where did your recipe come from? What was its inspiration?
We are a biscuit truck who likes to nod to the Southern classics. Hot chicken is very Nashville, so we knew we needed to build a biscuit with hot chicken at the core. Our fried chicken gets dunked into our cayenne mixture, and topped with our housemade mustard, housemade pickles, and local honey to play off the spice.

2014 Chicken Coupe Lineup and Menu

Karl Worley, The Biscuit Love Truck, Nashville, Tenn.
Nashville hot chicken with watermelon salad

Andrew Carmellini, The Dutch at W South Beach, Miami Beach, Fla.
Hot fried chicken
Buttermilk-brined, battered and fried with Old Bay seasoning and honey butter biscuits and jalapeño slaw

Elizabeth Karmel, Hill Country Chicken, New York
Mini chickwich
Buttermilk-brined fried chicken breast with sour pickles on a buttered bun and a fried okra pickle

Ashley Christensen, Poole's Diner, Raleigh, N.C.
Buttermilk-fried boneless chicken thighs
Served on a biscuit with smoked tomato gravy and pickled green tomato chow-chow

Clayton Miller, Yardbird, Miami Beach, Fla.
Mama's chicken biscuits with pepper jelly and bread and butter pickles

Gavin Kaysen, Café Boulud, New York
Fried Chicken with red cabbage slaw and charred scallion

Giorgio Rapicavoli, eating house, Coral Cables, Fla.
General Tso's chicken & waffles
Fried chicken thighs, scallion waffle, soy-maple, sesame 'ranch'

Asha Gomez, Cardamom Hill, Atlanta, Ga.
Kerala fried chicken
Finished with a drizzle of coconut oil and our spicy mango sauce, caramelized onion and cumin rice

Linton Hopkins, Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta, Ga.
Southern fried chicken, red-eye gravy and white eagle grits

Mike Moore, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, Asheville, N.C.
Fried chicken with giblet gravy
Buttermilk-marinated fried chicken, giblet gravy, chopped egg, pimento and Benton's Country Ham mac & cheese

Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Read more articles by Arthur, reach him by email, or click here to follow Arthur on Twitter.