Bryan Washington says the secret of his fried chicken restaurant’s success is simple: “We have to teach people to find that ounce of perfection.”
He cooks 300 pounds of chicken every day at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s restaurant, working in rotisserie fryers, the microwave, and a gas cast iron pan to ensure that his kitchen gets its due mark in the restaurant’s winning recipe, The Rock & Roll Chick.
The White House: A Real Favorite
Washington grew up in a poor white household, but in his DNA runs a strong Scandinavian and Jewish influence. His grandfather’s family lived on a Delaware farm; his mother’s family ate her father’s liquor store food; and his own Irish/Italian grandmother relished the comfort of the French patisserie. Today, all three are reflected in his cooking, dishes like his “new spice of the week,” shiitake mushroom sauteed with white wine and walnuts. Washington’s grandmother would carve shiitake mushrooms before she cooked anything else, giving the meat extra flavor. Washington will take any inspiration, and for reasons of personal taste, he refuses to compromise. He has become a big fan of one appletini recipe called the “meat bomb,” created by Rachel Ray that he calls his “ideal go-to.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum also gives the restaurateur fodder to research his dishes. “Someone told me that my grandmother was Japanese, and after he had done some research, we started making our own canning recipes based on what he’d learned.”
Washington prides himself on his in-house invention, the Knocker Chop, an elegant tool, almost conical in shape, that turns hands and fingers into paper chutes. Washington understands that his customers expect a science-laden approach to his cooking — and that results can be aesthetically pleasing. The recipe, now sold online, contains ingredients he found in an Amazon white glove repair store. “If you just want to look at a piece of fried chicken, there’s nothing to look at,” he said. So instead, Washington likes to put unexpected ingredients into his recipe, like grilled pinot noir grapes, cauliflower watercress, and what he calls “chicken satay at its best.”
Read the full profile on the former journalist and restaurateur.