There are few foods revered for their simplicity and nostalgia-inducing power like crispy, juicy fried chicken. But on Thursday night, 17 prominent New York City-based chefs and restaurants proved that sometimes it pays to shake up an old classic when they served their unique takes on chicken to guests at Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse.
Held on the opening night of this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, the fourth annual Chicken Coupe (presented by Cooking Channel) was hosted and judged by fried chicken enthusiast Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg had approached festival founder Lee Brian Schrager several years ago about dedicating an entire event to the universally loved dish, and this year, she wrote the foreword to Schrager’s book, Fried & True — so you might say they know a thing or two about anointing a winning bird.
Continue Reading Traditional Fried Chicken Flies the Coop in Favor of the Sweet and Spicy
Me and the bartender at Bistro 22
For such a small state, Rhode Island has a huge reputation in the food scene. People who call it home are passionate and love a good meal. Providence is a beautiful city and makes for a great vacation for folks who need a break from the hustle and bustle of New York and Boston.
Chef Wayne gave me an amazing cooking lesson at Succotash. The “bruncheonette” concept is refreshing and perfect for a relaxing lunch. I can see why the Forkin’ Brisket BLT is such a crowd pleaser. The Jewelry District in Providence has a real gem in Succotash.
Bistro 22 can be found in Cranston, just 10 miles outside of Providence. There Chris Kattawar takes his knowledge of the area and love for rustic ingredients to create a flavorful menu. You’ll love the “breakfast in a jar” and pan-seared foie gras with pickled peaches.
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The guys showing me around Estelle's
Boston is the largest city in New England, attracting millions of visitors every year. It has an astounding amount of history and museums, as well as famous schools. The restaurant scene is just as lively, and you can find just about any cuisine imaginable, but make sure you try local specialties like seafood, baked beans and chowder.
What I love about chefs Eric Gburski and Brian Poe is that they want to build a community around their food. They’re strong believers in the Southern food movement, and the space proves it. I had a wonderful time at Estelle’s and recommend anyone to try the awesome brunch!
Highland Kitchen can be found in Somerville, a neighborhood outside of Boston that young professionals call home. I can see why the space gets packed every night, because it has every ingredient for a great night and unique dishes like the curried goat stew.
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Bartender Jennifer pouring me a drink at Valley
Indiana is considered “The Crossroads of America” because of all the highways that run through it. It’s next door to a number of great states, but has some amazing attractions of its own. The farmland is beautiful and makes for some incredible restaurants. While Indianapolis is an awesome city, check out Valparaiso the next time you’re in the Chicago area. The food scene will surprise you.
Valley Kitchen and Bar
Valley Kitchen and Bar comes from a husband-and-wife team with a love for farming. I had a great time in their kitchen making their take on a chicken potpie. When you come here be open to their seasonal menu and enjoy trying different comfort dishes. Don’t forget to have a drink or two like the John Deere Margarita!
Abby Leetz took her catering business to another level and landed a great spot right downtown. She can bake anything and everything for her guests. I got a crash course in her croissant bread pudding and peach-raspberry crisp, and it was absolutely amazing. I can promise you’ll find something here for your sweet tooth.
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Chilling with Christine Cikowski at Honey Butter Fried Chicken
The Windy City is an amazing vacation destination to explore with your family and friends. The third-largest city in the United States is home to jazz, comedy and the country’s first skyscrapers. Many visitors stick to the downtown area, but the next time you’re in Chicago, go beyond the central district. Locals identify proudly with their neighborhoods, and there you’ll find some fantastic restaurants.
Grandma J’s sits in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Humboldt Park. This is a hip space the locals love, because it’s filled with knickknacks that would remind you of your grandmother’s house. The food is no joke — if you want a fun breakfast, go for the duck three ways or the pork belly Benedict.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is the product of two chefs with a big passion for putting the butter on the bird. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s a delicious one. You can’t go wrong with any of their chicken dishes with homemade honey butter, but make sure you try the sides like the macaroni and cheese, too.
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The Sheraton Kona's Luau
The Big Island, or Hawaii Island, is a must-see when visiting Hawaii. Its small population and breathtaking scenery make it a quiet getaway. Restaurants source local ingredients and infuse them with culture. Do not miss The Big Island, including Kona, when you hop on a plane and visit, and make sure you get a tour of the black-sand beaches.
Big Jake’s Island BBQ
Sam Choy knows I love good barbecue, so I’m glad he took me here. Big Jake set down his smoker in 1997, and customers have flocked to it ever since. This modest but mighty spot is known for its Southern smoked meats and Hawaiian keawe mesquite. You’ll enjoy eating outdoors while dining on brisket, ribs and chicken.
If you haven’t tried poke yet, you definitely need to at Umeke’s. Nakoa Pabre’s flavor combinations will amaze you and make you think of tuna in a different way. He uses fresh ingredients like avocado, fern salad and fruit to create unbelievable dishes.
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Chef Mark Steuer and me at the Carriage House
The Midwest isn’t just about cold weather and funny accents — the food scene here is growing stronger every year. The Midwest is filled with passionate people making their restaurant dreams a reality. With farmland available to create local products, the food quality of the Midwest is some of the best in the country.
Chef Mark Steuer has something incredibly special in the Carriage House. This Chicago hot spot takes the flavors of the South and modernizes them. Steuer’s fried chicken and homemade sweet-potato hot sauce is packed with flavor; if you’re up for something different, try the quail and dumplings.
Cuppy’s Best Soulful Deli
Andrea White’s dishes have both heart and soul. In her new spot in Ypsilanti she’s making comfort food like no one else in the Midwest. When you try the meats and sides, make sure you save room for dessert: peach cobbler or sweet potato cake.
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There’s so much more to Oahu than just Honolulu. It’s the most populous of the Hawaiian Islands and is home to Diamond Head and the North Shore, which are great for surfing. When you get off that plane, don’t be afraid to explore beyond Waikiki Beach, because you’ll find amazing food spots beyond the strip.
Dat Cajun Guy
I loved finding a taste of the South in Oahu. Jordan and Ashley Romano (see photo) take Louisiana cooking and dish it out of a food truck in an amazing location. Haleiwa is right along the North Shore, so make sure you stop by this part of the island if you’re a fan of surfing. Be sure to order the Gumbolaya!
Hughley’s Southern Cuisine
Ken and his family make some incredible soul food for the local military. The ribs, the fried peach cobbler, the catfish — all of his dishes take me back to Georgia. Sneak over to Aiea on your trip if you’re feeling homesick for the South.
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Me and chefs Christy and Mike at Hot and Soul
Located just north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale has plenty to offer vacationers. As South Florida grows, so does its culinary scene. Dine on tasty seafood and check out the bars and restaurants by the marinas when you visit the beach.
Hot and Soul
Hot and Soul is the creation of husband-and-wife team Mike Hampton and Christy Samoy. They’ve lived in different cities and brought techniques from famous kitchens to Fort Lauderdale to create their own concept: International Soul Food. I had a great time in their kitchen making gnocchi and tasting pate. If you’re in town you just can’t miss this spot.
Southern Swank Kitchen
Southern Swank Kitchen is a new spot in Davie made by young chefs with a hip crowd in mind. I enjoyed their fun take on Southern comfort food, especially the drinks! The locals will keep coming because of its awesome atmosphere and live music.
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Me and the staff at Rye Roadhouse
New York state is home to far more than just Manhattan. Chefs are learning to love upstate New York as well as the boroughs, like Brooklyn and Queens. Even outside of the city you can find unique dining experiences. Hop on the Metro-North and explore the Hudson Valley.
In Harlem, Ayala’s desserts reign supreme. I had a great time in her tiny kitchen learning how to make what she calls a “pudgie.” I can see why she attracts so much attention from people throughout the city. It’s completely worth the trek. Get there early to get a seat at her communal table, or grab some dangerously delicious desserts to go.
Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel are no strangers to Brooklyn. They’re the masters of Southern comfort food and know just how to please the neighborhood and stay cutting-edge. Their ever-changing drink list can set up the evening for a culinary adventure in Brooklyn. You can’t go wrong with Grandma’s meatloaf!
Named after its location in Rye, New York, you would never expect to find such amazing Cajun food north of New York City. The guys at Rye Roadhouse took great care of me, as they do all of their patrons. This is a great spot to try some new dishes and hang out with the locals.
Continue Reading G. Garvin’s Best of New York Travel Guide