At Chicken Coupe, grilled was an unknown word among the participating chefs. Andrew Carmellini walked around speaking to chefs to ensure everything was moving along smoothly and to try the fried chicken, of course.
The sold-out event confirmed America's fascination with two things: fried chicken and champagne. Upon walking in, we overheard someone say they'd never had good fried chicken or even cared for it much. We found that same person toward the end of the event and that had changed. "I have fallen in love."
Held in the W South Beach's ballroom, just feet away from Carmellini's other baby, the Dutch, the event wasn't overcrowded with restaurants or people. They sold just the right amount of tickets for the intimate affair, and you had the luxury of not having to battle sand in your shoes for a change -- which is nice when you're drinking copious amounts of bubbly.
Less than 20 participating restaurants made it easy to get through all of them without feeling completely gluttonous and like we needed loosen up our drawstring pants (worn on purpose, of course). Endless flowing champagne is not only the perfect compliment to chicken skin, but got us feeling sassy and classy at the same time, and in the mood to keep the party going after, which continue at the Broken Shaker with Andrew Carmellini, Michael Schwartz, and Jose Mendin all in attendance.
Clayton Miller of Yardbird is extra poised while serving the restaurant's famed mama's chicken biscuits with pepper jelly and pickles.
Cafe Boulud served up a beautiful fried chicken drum that had nice spice to it and accompanied with red cabbage slaw and charred scallion.
Local favorite Eating House did their Tso's chicken and waffles, which you might have actually never had, as they're different from their traditional foi'ffles. These featured a scallion waffle topped with fried chicken thighs drenched in soy-maple sesame ranch.
Atlanta-hailing Holeman & Finch served up Southern-style fried chicken with red-eye gravy, white eagle grits, and topped with serrano. All together the bite tasted like una croqueta. A delicious one.
The Dutch was the center of attention with a sunflowers and biscuits presentation. Ten bottles of hot sauce were available to top your fried chicken and biscuits.
Cardamon Hill served a beautiful kerala fried chicken drizzled with coconut oil and spicy mango sauce. Caramelized onion and cumin rice served as a nice sidekick to the chicken.
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Lee Schrager and Adeena Sussman even had their own chicken -- yotam ottolenghi's seeded chicken schnitzel with parsley-cape mayonnaise.
But our favorite of the night was the hottest chicken -- Nashville hot chicken to be exact. Karl Wholey from the Biscuit Love Truck in Nashville served this ultra-spicy and crisp chicken alongside a refreshing watermelon salad.
What goes good with fried chicken? Pie. The Dutch's pastry chef, Josh Gripper, offered variety of American's favorite dessert. Blueberry, banana cream, salted lime, triple chocolate, or a Cuban flan pie were the options.