It’s a food redolent of the American South, reintroduced, reinvented and rebranded for the new food revolution.
Fried chicken has its roots in Afro-American culture, but also surprisingly in Scottish food. There are variations of it the world over, and the Ballarat take on this US staple will be featured this Sunday at the Hop Temple off Armstrong St North.
Zac Hill of the Hop Temple says the Southern Fried Chicken Pop-Up this weekend is a collaborative effort between Hop Temple and Round the Way, the Main Road bagel and burger restaurant and food truck.
“We’re looking at fried chicken burgers, buckets of fried chicken, pickles, chicken thigh pieces, boards of chicken, a couple of different burgers – a blue cheese chicken burger and a macaroni and cheese chicken burger,” say Zac.
“We’re a long way from the chicken parma. Southern food is in trend, and the reason for that is that it’s really good food; it’s food made from the bottom up. It’s a process-driven style of food, intense flavours and good produce.”
And that’s part of what’s exciting in Ballarat at the present: the boom in new and inventive places to eat. Zac Hill says that Ballarat is emerging as the regional town with the fastest-evolving food culture.
“The demand is there now: there are a couple of people pushing the limits pretty hard, and that’s making other people push their limits – and it shows the demand for good food in Ballarat IS there.”
Ryan Slater from Round the Way says the secret to making good southern cuisine is choosing the best ingredients for coating and seasoning, and soaking the chicken in buttermilk for 12 hours before cooking.
“I don’t want to give away too many secrets, but that makes the chicken tender and retain moisture,” says Ryan.
He says the trend to more casual dining doesn’t mean people have to sacrifice good quality food.
“Sunday will be a really relaxed affair, and the food will be affordable, but it’s still really excellent food.”
The Southern Fried Chicken Pop-Up is at the Hop Temple this Sunday until 10.30pm. The food will be matched with beers and wine suggested by staff.