Monarch Hot Chicken comes to Hood River
by Melissa Haskin/Hood River Eats
On January 29, Monarch Hot Chicken will have its second pop-up event here in Hood River. Run by chef Ryan Hunter, the business seeks to perfect one thing: Nashville-style Hot Chicken. Hunter describes his chicken as packing a hefty dose of cayenne-forward heat. At the January 29 dinner, it will be served on a Hawaiian-style hamburger bun with smokey aioli, slaw, and pickles.
You may know Hunter from kitchens around the Gorge: White Salmon Baking, Pixan, and Kickstand (where he is currently employed). Before that, Hunter worked in kitchens from Alaska to Minneapolis to Martha's Vineyard. His last stop before the Gorge: Coquine -- you know, that fancy place everyone from Food & Wine to Esquire brags about.
The idea for his pop-up came from a recent trip to visit family in LA. While noshing on some delicious hot chicken, he thought to himself that the Gorge could use a hot chicken place and he could be just the guy to bring it to us.
We asked Hunter what we ask most chefs: "What do you want people to experience when they eat your food/how do you want them to feel during/after?" His response?
You ever see the 1996 film The Big Night? It's one of my favorite food-centric films. After a massive, multi-course spread, the dinner guests are sunk back in their chairs in a heavy-lidded fugue state resembling post-coital bliss. A sensory experience so intense and gratifying it borders on the transcendent. Can hot chicken provide such an experience? I'll give it a shot.
If you go:
Where: Working Hands, 1021 12th St Suite 102, Hood River, OR 97031
What: Monarch Fried Chicken will be serving up a "feast" including the Monarch Hot Chicken sandwich, baked beans, potato salad, and cornbread cake.
When: 3 p.m. until sold out. No reservations or pre-orders.
Drinks: Beer, cider, and non-alcoholic beverages available for individual purchase.
Payment: Card or cash accepted. $25 per plate.
Hunter's next outing will also be at Working Hands, where he will be providing a bar food menu on Super Bowl Sunday.
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