What if a machine invented in Beloit, WI, in 1954 is the key to a crisper future?
Old tech meets new tech in the tiny fried chicken shop about to launch on 46th and Minnehaha Avenue. Official Fried Chicken is a new concept from Funky Grits creator Jared Brewington, and it just might be a game changer.
You’ve heard the term “broasted chicken” yes?
On supper club, town bar, and drive-in menus throughout the Midwest, it’s tucked in with normal script as if we’re all supposed to know what it means. I’m sure I am not the only person who first assumed it was a wicked wizardry that brought broiling and roasting together in some freaky technique resulting in crispy chicken. Never happier to be so wrong.
Because to be broasted chicken, you have to have an actual Broaster, which is a pressure fryer invented by L.A.M. Phelan in 1954. Brewington thinks this is the way of the future, “I was looking for efficient, fast, and delicious. I needed all three to make this work.”
Here’s what the Broaster 1800 brings to this chicken party. The pressure fryer is cleaner, easier, and friendlier to small spaces. The system is slick and automated. The machine regulates the heat of the oil, the basket design keeps the chicken moving for a more even fry, and the pressure cooks whole birds in much shorter time than open oil frying. Plus, the bird is just less greasy. I watched the whole procedure and my first thought was: the Instant Pot generation would jam on this.
Yesterday, I was standing next to the newly installed machines in the new space when the Minneapolis city inspector came in and said, “Well, what the heck are those?” Do you know what one of the most expensive parts of building a new restaurant is? The hood system. Venting all the kitchen fumes takes a massive HVAC system which has to funnel the nasty air outside, usually that means going through the roof, or out the side of the building which can be difficult and expensive in tall structures or crowded city spaces. OFC will open next week on the ground floor of a brand new apartment building, and due to the nature of closed lid pressure frying, there will be no need for venting. For a fried chicken shop.
“That means, we can build this kitchen almost anywhere. We don’t have to find the ‘perfect’ spot, it can work in smaller footprints and neighborhoods that don’t have traditional restaurant spaces already. This is an e-kitchen, fully electric. It’s plug and play,” Brewington said. “And with a smaller kitchen, we can have less staff and pay them more.”
Manager Chloe McGee confirms this to be true. She has a deep love of fried chicken and is in charge of the kitchen team, which she says will be about 3 people prepping and cooking. McGee says it’s a better paying job than others like it, but she’s more excited about the possibilities it presents.
Because let’s move from efficient, onto fast and delicious.
OFC takes the old tech of Broaster frying and marries it with new tech to make this work for the current world. This is a pick up joint, there is no seating. I can’t even call it counter service, because there is no counter. It is seamless, contactless order and delivery.
You walk in and find the order screen next to the menu painted on the wall. You input your order along with your phone number. Once your order is ready, it will be placed in a high-tech locker that is temperature controlled to keep it hot and ready for you. Placing the food in the locker will generate a text with a QR code, which you will scan on the locker in order to pop open your order’s door and release the chicken to your hot little hands.
All of this can happen in a matter of minutes. You’re not looking at a 20+ minute wait time for fried bird, because once the chicken comes out of the Broaster, it’s moved to a holding cabinet that is climate controlled with the right humidity and temperature so that it stays crisp, hot, and juicy for hours. This allows the kitchen to batch cook and hold a lot of chicken so that it’s ready to go when the orders come in.
“But it still has to be delicious,” McGee told me. Hailing from Mississippi, she claims to have eaten a lot of fried chicken in her time, and does not want to compromise on flavor and juiciness just to be fast. “I was a skeptic, but we did the training on this equipment, and I was surprised how good the chicken was. We’re going to watch it and figure out the timing, how much we should cook ahead, but it’s still fresh, hot, and juicy when we put it in the locker. Every time.”
Brewington is keeping it simple with this first go, just three flavors of fried chicken and fries, that’s it. He’s using the signature Broaster breading mix, combined with his own blend of spices to make original, Buffalo style seasoning, and BBQ flavored. While he’s unable to do gluten-free chicken at this time, he did note that due to the pressure frying, they use much less flour on their chicken than others.
Having long been a fan of the broasted bird, I am excited to see how this one flies. I tried OFC’s flavors right out of the Broaster and it was beyond delicious. It was everything you want, fully flavored in the breading and the meat, with super crisp skin that didn’t fall apart when you took a bite. The crunch was real, and I didn’t feel like I’d ingested a cup of fryer grease. I am eager to compare that to the bird that goes through the holding cabinet and locker system. Which I will be able to do when OFC officially opens next week.
If all goes well, this is just the beginning. You obviously don’t build a plug and play kitchen to keep it on one corner. Brewington sees the potential for expansion with this concept, and so does McGee, “I’m ready to travel to wherever we need to, to bring fried chicken and train others how to do this. It’s really something.”
Sign up on their website to get the word when the doors officially open, and you also get 25% off your first order!