Louisiana's top fried chicken chefs were on hand for the inaugural Fried Chicken Festival held in New Orleans on Sunday (Sept. 25). The one-day, fry-off competition and music festival took place at Lafayette Square.
Huge crowds filled the iconic square for the free event. Organizers anticipated 20,000 hungry festival-goers. After all, who wouldn't want to sample some of the world's best fried chicken in one of America's premier food cities?
The competition's big winners included the who's who of the Louisiana fried-chicken world. The prize for Best Fried Chicken went to the Original Fiorella's Cafe, a popular Creole/Cajun joint in the French Quarter. The award for Best Use of Fried Chicken in a Dish went to Jazz City Cafe, a home-cooking restaurant located across the Mississippi River from New Orleans in Chalmette, who tossed boneless stuffed wings in a special house sauce.
Another big winner was the festival's guest of honor, Leah Chase. The 93-year-old chef, co-owner of the Dooky Chase restaurant, is a Creole food celebrity in New Orleans and beyond. Recently, she received the prestigious 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award by the James Beard Foundation.
It's only fitting that a festival held in the Crescent City. Aside from its world-class food, New Orleans also boasts incredible music. A slate of New Orleans musicians filled the lineup, including Brass-A-Holics (a self-proclaimed "GoGo brass funk band"), John Boutte (jazz, gospel and blues singer known to the world for his work on the HBO show Treme) and DJ Mannie Fresh (one-half of rap-duo Big Tymers).
Luckily for fried chicken lovers, all signs indicate that the New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival will likely continue next year.