Monthly Archives: September 2013

2013 Fried Chicken Festival Review


When my wife first informed me that I was attending this event, I was intrigued. There are just a handful of fried chicken establishments in Southern California. The most notable ones are: the ubiquitous KFC, and the more delicious (In my opinion) albeit found only in gentrified neighborhoods, “Popeyes Chicken”. Church’s chicken is also available to us, though I see less and less of them these days. I don’t think I can leave out Roscoe’s Chicken Waffles, but I have not been there for 15 years, so I can’t even use that as a basis of comparison.

With that said, the event is $55 dollars a person. A portion of the proceeds (Yes, I love it when they never specify and only state portion) goes to My Friend’s place, a charitable organization helping the youths of Los Angeles.

We began at “Handsom Coffee Roasters” nearby and had some tasty expresso while we waited for the event to begin. I noticed there was Dr. Doom graffiti art across the street and insisted I had my photo taken there. It was quite apropos, considering we are about to embark on a journey that has doomed many a chicken. Bruhahahha!

We lined up for the event, which opened their doors to non VIP Ticket holders at 16:00PST. Food was all inclusive, including alcohol. As such, they did prerequisite ID checks.


Note for $90 USD you can get the V.I.P tickets which allow you to get in an hour earlier, have a special area to sit in, and get the nationally renowned bartender Matthew Biancaniello to serve you this concotion: (Yes that is a chicken’s foot)


Now onto the food!

Ricardo Zarate: Mo-chica, Paiche + Picca

This glorified fried chicken ball over a bed of cabbage can be broken down to two distinct areas. The green sauce, and everything else. The sauce was very flavorful, it was a bit tangy with hints of spices that went very well with the chicken ball. However, the chicken ball itself was soft, but not very flavorful at all. Without the sauce, it tastes a little bit like the soft meatballs you get at IKEA. Bland, soft and squishy in texture. The sauce is ultimately what saved it, but in general, sauce should augment a dish. Not carry it. Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? YES

Matt Poley Heirloom LA

The chicken pieces here were a bit dry. The skin, though fried did not have much flavor. The accompanying potato salad I thought was pretty decent, however overall, it was very forgettable.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? YES

Daniel Mattern & Roxana Jullapat Cooks County

We were initially very excited when we saw this. What would best be described as petite, fried chicken sliders with a pickle on top. It looked delicious! However, once we bit into them, our enthusiasm faded, along with taste of the sliders. What was destined to be a cornucopia of flavors, bursting in our mouths with every bite, ended up being a dry, bland experience. The good news is, it is definitely not forgettable. Chrissie wanted to take the bread off and go for the chicken, then eventually tossed it. I find it hard to waste food so I forced myself to finish it. There were two issues with this one. The bread that was used was very dry, and not soft. Take away the bread and you are left with flavorless fried chicken.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? Heck Yes!

David LeFevre: Fishing With Dynamite + M.B. Post

This Truffle Honey Laced Fried Chicken with Lime Cilantro dish was quite delicious. They were the only ones there that gave us a combination of dark and white meets, fried and splattered with a delicious honey sauce. The meat was soft, and flavorful. The problem with the sweet chicken is they can’t be consumed en mass. Generally, after 2 to three pieces, you start to get tired of it. So far this one was quite decent.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? Maybe

We decided to go inside to take a break, and to cleanse our palates with refreshments. These guys at Bierkast had two drinks: Ketsara (Thai Tea Soda), and Ginger Citrus Soda. The Ginger was ok, but the Thai Tea Soda, was fantastic and amazing, all rolled into one. It was refreshing, not too sweet, and overall just brilliantly brewed. Unfortunately they are currently looking for a distributor, so it is somewhat of a Unicorn drink. Meaning, we spotted it once, and it is highly improbable that we will find it again. However, the discovery was quite worth the hour drive up to L.A. Yes, it was that good.


We moved on to beer! It must be noted that I am very upset with these people. They made me commit a cardinal sin, “Thou shalt not waste alcohol”. Despite being very cold beer, the temperature did not save us from the assault on our senses. Going down, there was this bitter, unpleasing taste. Then two seconds later, the after taste hits you like a freight train. We both agreed, that this beer had to disappear, and we had to do it to not offend anyone. So we walked outside and I quietly buried it in the trash bins. Firestone, we thank you for your efforts and donation to the community.


After the awful beer experience, we wandered outside for round two of the Chicken Feast.

Susan Feniger: Street : chicken, Bacon & Waffle Croquette With a Spicy Maple Sauce

I’m going to ignore the fact that Susan Feniger is a TV personality. After all, in my opinion, art, much like food, should be judged based on what you do, and not who you are. That aside, I was very pleased that she was serving food and just being out there with us lowly lumpenproletariats.

The dish was very good. It hinted of waffles, and the cucumber and hikama salad went very well with the main dish. The skin was crispy and the contents within were moist and flavorful. It was one of Chrissie’s favorite dishes at the event.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? No

Jason Neroni: Superba Snack Bar

This Fried Chicken with Red Wine Glaze, Pickled Chilies, and parmesan with Kentucky style Bacon Slaw looks quite wonderful on paper. The presentation is wonderful and appetizing. Here’s what I think is wrong with it. When you first bite into it, you think you just got robbed. Where are the spices that was promised? Were they just there for decoration?! What does this taste so bland? After a few bites, you start to get a little annoyed. Then, just as you are about to give up, a hint of spices start to trickle, then stream into your mouth. But by then, I fear it may be too late. Mentally, I had already given up on it. I think however, this is one dish I wouldn’t mind giving a second chance.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? Maybe

Chris Oh: Seoul Sausage

This boils down to sweet and sour chicken wings. The sweetness over powers the wing and ensures you would only want to eat just one wing before moving on to the next booth. I think this would taste decent if it had a lot of rice, to offset the flavors. But I think that would undermine the spirit of chicken wings, which is to consume as much as possible in one sitting while sipping on beer and watching a game. That should be the mission statement of all chicken wings out there, and sadly, this one fails masterfully at it. It would be closer to home in a restaurant, eaten slowly during dinnertime, along with Orange Chicken, because that is pretty much what it tastes like. Just one notch above Orange chicken except pesky bones to slow you down.

Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? Yes

Bryant Ng: The Spice Table
Prawn Paste Fried Chicken Chinese Honey Mustard with Spicy Baked Beans


This was a decent entry, it tasted like curry chicken. The beans did not pair well with the chicken at all, but over all if you had a hankering for flavored chicken, this may hit the spot. This is an average dish, with just enough flavor and spices to keep you interested, but not enough to have anything much to write about it.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? Yes

Eduardo Ruiz Corazon y Miel

This is a dry rubbed fried chicken with chorizo, preserved mushrooms, barley, lemon creme fraiche. Sounds very fancy, but I will have to put this as the worst chicken item there. Next to the mini chicken sliders, except the sliders, given plenty of beer, I would eat again. The creamy/mushroom flavor does not go well at all. When I first bit into it, I thought I accidentally bit into a large chunk of fat. It left a very discernible awful taste in my mouth. Going with my life’s motto of “You gotta try everything once, maybe twice”, I mustered up the courage to take another few more bites. It was not better the second time around, in fact I think it made it worse. I can best describe it as biting into sludgy lard.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? Very much Yes

Ernesto Uchimura: Plan Check Bar

This is one of the best dishes during the festival. Spicy and smokey fried chicken, a hint of jalepenos with sweet corn pudding. The chicken was soft, moist, had an explosion of flavors and spices, and the sauce helped it along and worked with the chicken. It was one of the best pairings there. The corn pudding helped balance out the spice, and it was one of the few chickens we scarfed down to the bone with no remorse.
Would I rather go to Popeyes Chicken? No

Inside the second tent, we stumbled upon much Better Alcohol! I’m the first to admit I’m not a huge tequila fan, but this stuff was not bad!
This mixed drink,dubbed ‘Zapatos Nuevos’ was pretty tasty. It comprised of Milagro, with watermelon, lime and basil. They were very generous with the amount of tequila and I think we will definitely be buying from them in the future.

The second most notable item for this event was the fabulous McConnell’s Ice Cream. I had never heard of them until today. The ice cream tasted home made, and very delicious. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was very creamy, and you could just tell the ingredients used were top notch. I can say, hands down, this stuff is way better than any hagaan daas, or other ice creams out there. The closest thing that can touch them was this old ice cream shop that used to be in my neighborhood back in the day called Haans Homemade ice cream on Bristol Street in Santa Ana, which essentially made hand made ice cream right there.


Serving Life

I watched this documentary, and I thought it would be interesting, but what was just a peek into the rabbit hole ended up being a roller coaster of emotions. The basic premise is these inmates, some doing various crimes, regardless of the circumstances, are all serving life or very long sentences. The warden started a program where volunteers who qualify can help care for other inmates serving life in the prison hospice. So in serving them, they find redemption, and change, in themselves, and it was very touching. It made everyone realize that family, and those bonds are very important, and if they had the care that they had and the love that they had in their last days on Earth, as they did growing up, maybe half of the people in prison wouldn’t have committed their crimes.

The volunteers do not know what the people they are taken care of are in for. It isn’t for people to judge. When you meet your maker, or make you lonely journey into the void, you make it alone. Doesn’t matter who you are or what you did, we all have to go sometime. The most touching I think was the two brothers. The younger brother following the older one always, and they each got into trouble, both doing time. The younger one, who know’s he is dying implores his older one to make a change. Just open up his heart and make a change, and it’s tough to see these large grown men break down and cry. But I watched these people take care of each other, and I was reminded of when we were taking care of my dad. The water swabs to keep the mouth dry, the potential bed sores. It all brought back a lot of memories, and I think three years after his passing, I thought I could handle it. Turns out, I was partially right. It did make me want to volunteer more though and give back. I remember the mantra growing up in high school during our volunteer days. “Make a Difference”. I think back then we did it to earn credit and get recognition to pad our resumes to get into college. It is not until later that you really want to do it for altruistic reasons. And as it turns out, regardless of who you are or what you’ve done, it’s never to late to help others, and make a change.

It is a good documentary, and if you are up for some good old fashioned depressing, yet hopeful exploration of the human spirit, then it would be something I recommend.