By definition, I am very much an accidental chef. I did not sit on my grandmother’s knee peeling broad beans looking at bubbling pots on the stove. I became a chef out of necessity; to have a job, to earn money, and hopefully keep a roof over my head in the years to come. In fact, I didn’t even have a pronounced interest in food, apart from knowing what I liked and what I didn’t like. Little did I know at that time what the universe had in store for me, or how colourful the journey of my career would turn out to be, so far.
With Chick ‘n’ Sours, we wanted to build a restaurant that was about more than just the food. We wanted a place where people would feel like they were in our home with super-friendly hospitality, incredible sour cocktails and next-level fried chicken. So with me in the kitchen, co-founder David Wolanski out front, and our mate Sam behind the bar, we cranked up the tunes, turned down the lights, opened the doors and set out on a journey which can only be described as something beyond our wildest dreams. Let’s just say that five years later, it’s still there, and has become something of a London icon, now with two sister restaurants, and an incredible following of loyal customers who we love dearly. In fact, we often think it’s more their restaurant than ours.
Inevitably, there was a second chapter to the fried chicken story. Chik’n is what we call fast food, not rushed food. It felt like a natural follow-on from Chick ‘n’ Sours, because we wanted to bring the same quality and ethos to a wider audience in a modern, fast-food environment with social responsibilities. A fried chicken brand that is not only better for you, but also better for our planet. It has the personality of Chick ‘n’ Sours at a much faster pace. David and I have a simple mantra: “We just want to be known as the guys who make the best fried chicken sandwich in the world.” Are we there yet? Probably not, but one thing is for sure, we will never give up trying.
I wanted to write The Whole Chicken for the very same reason – to bring some light and life to an ingredient I have come to be very passionate about, with twists and takes that are designed to make you think differently, taste differently, and eat differently, wherever you are in the world. I firmly recommend that you approach my recipes with my random musings in mind. Not only will it help you to navigate your likes and dislikes, it will also encourage you to take your own path; in my experience, that’s the only way to food heaven. None of these recipes are authentic, but they were created by me through my lens, with love and respect for their origin. This is happy food that is meant to make you smile (if it’s not, then something’s wrong).