Travel Leisure

Destination Diaries: Eating and Drinking My Way Through National Fried Chicken Festival


I’m no stranger to New Orleans, as I had the unique opportunity to live here for two years. It’s a smaller city in the U.S., but it’s packed with more restaurants, festivals, and a distinctive culture that stands out compared to many cities I’ve traveled to.

There’s a festival for everything. Most people know the larger ones, Essence Fest and Jazz Festival. Still, there are more that show off the city’s art and music culture, neighborhoods, and specialties, including the crawfish festival and the one I recently witnessed up close — The National Fried Chicken Festival.

What Is Fried Chicken Festival?

It’s precisely that. The festival started as another way for the city’s best restaurants to show off why their fried chicken is the best.

Competitions are typical among restaurants and food trucks in the Big Easy, where, inarguably, you rarely come across lousy food. In a place where everything you taste is excellent, only a food competition can decipher who’s best.

The National Fried Chicken Festival in New Orleans began in 2016 and has become a mainstay foodie festival in the Crescent City. The event gets bigger yearly, and there’s more to do than eat fried chicken.

There are multiple stages for music and band acts, a beer garden, various bar vendors for people who want to drink and listen to music, and VIP lounges like the Chicken & Bubbles VIP lounge. Guests experience catered food and bottle service in the VIP lounges.

The Menus Include More Than Chicken Wings and Chicken Tenders

The different chicken options were shocking. I knew more than 50 vendors and restaurants nationwide would participate in the festival. What I didn’t realize was how creative each vendor would get.

The macaroni stuffed wings from Stuff’d Wings in Houston, Texas, was a hit. The restaurant sold out of the stuffed wings on the first day before the event ended.

Stuffed Wings from Stuff'd Wings in Houston, Texas.
Macaroni and cheese stuffed wings from Stuff’d Wings in Houston, Texas. Photo credit: Parker Diakite

Your Side Chicks – a restaurant from Portland, Oregon – created a chicken and funnel cake dish that was also a smash hit among fest-goers, including myself. The chicken tenders are gluten-free and dairy-free. However, the owner perfected a breading and seasoning that marinated for more than 30 hours and passed the flavor test.

New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival
Photo credit: Parker Diakite

Whiskey & Sticks created chicken dishes as a cocktail. The fried chicken was tossed in what the owners called “drunk cluckers sauce” with the same ingredients from an Old Fashioned, a Mule cocktail, and the iconic New Orleans Sweet n Sour drink.

The best dessert on the menu was from Bof Bars. The team created an ice cream chicken leg with an option for chocolate ice cream, dark meat, vanilla ice cream, or white meat. The skin was made with waffle bits, and, of course, it was shaped like a chicken wing.

Bof Bars Fried Chicken Ice Cream Bar.
Bof Bars Fried Chicken Ice Cream Bar. Photo credit: Parker Diakite

Pairing Fried Chicken With Cocktails

Heinz Culture Stage at Fried Chicken Festival.
Photo credit: Parker Diakite

One of the most insightful experiences occurred at the Heinz Food Culture Stage. It was one of three stages at the event with all-day entertainment. The entertainment at the Heinz Food Culture Stage was for foodies, fried chicken lovers, and spirits enthusiasts. 

Celebrity chefs, culinary leaders, and baristas came together throughout the two-day event for cooking demonstrations, panel discussions, and how-to instructions for preparing the best cocktails when hosting a party or get-together.


Source link : travelnoire.com

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