South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Andrew Carmellini Talks Fried Chicken and SoBeWFF

Miami should give thanks to Andrew Carmellini for two things: the Dutch and Chicken Coupe. As the Dutch nears its two-year mark at the illustrious W South Beach, Carmellini is gearing up for an anniversary filled with fried chicken and champagne.

Chicken Coupe, part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, is back after last year's inaugural success. MasterCard members can buy tickets early, but only until Sunday, October 20, when sales to the general public begin. So if you can't decide between fried chicken and Burger Bash, Carmellini talks bird to help you make up your mind.

See also: Lee Brian Schrager on the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Bar Mitzvah

New Times: Where did the inspiration for Chicken Coupe come from?

Andrew Carmellini: Fried chicken has become a thing now, but I've been doing it in my restaurants since way before comfort food became trendy. It's cool to see chefs get creative with it. There are 100 different ways to approach fried chicken. Lee Schrager and I wanted to do something at W South Beach that was going to be hot for the festival, and fried chicken and champagne just seemed like the perfect combination of refinement and homestyle cooking from the Dutch and some of our friends.

How will this year differ from the first?

We changed up the roster to get a whole new batch of fried chicken dishes. We're excited to try them all.

Favorite part of lasts year's event?

It was definitely the place to be! It was fun to see all of our friends like Josh Capon and Pat LaFrieda chowing on chicken. We kept the crowd pretty close-knit too; because it's indoors, we had a very limited amount of space, and that made the party feel more intimate.

Wing, breast, or thigh?

Impossible to choose -- they are all delicious for different reasons.

What's the secret to fried chicken?

It's all about personal taste, but the best fried chicken to me is both supercrispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

Who are the fried-chicken experts this year? Any clues or hints?

We've got a great lineup of chefs this year: Elizabeth Karmel, Gavin Kaysen from Café Boulud, and more.

There's a misconception that chicken is usually boring and a copout dish. What do you have to say about that?

I say they're not eating the right chicken.

What's the best fried chicken you've had and where?

I have spent a lot of time on the road eating some amazing fried chicken all over the country, and even more time making sure that our fried chicken at the Dutch was the best I have ever had.

Name one South Beach Wine & Food Festival event you absolutely cannot miss, besides Chicken Coupe, of course.

I'm really looking forward to the Ocean Liner dinner I'm doing with Anthony Bourdain. It'll be myself, Daniel Boulud, Frederic Morin, François Payard, and Eric Ripert. It should be a great evening.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.