Prince's Hot Chicken To Receive James Beard Award

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Prince's Hot Chicken will add another honor to its ever expanding list of accolades: James Beard Award winner.

This morning, the Beard foundation announced that Prince's would be one of five recipients of the America's Classics Award, a medal bestowed upon Arnold's Country Kitchen in 2009.

From the release:

Hot fried chicken, long popular in towns across the South, has become synonymous with Nashville. A visit to town doesn’t count unless you make the pilgrimage to this joint, set in an abbreviated strip mall alongside a nail salon, for crispy yardbird with a cayenne-soaked coat of armor.

Thornton Prince was the original owner. He was a handsome fellow. One of his girlfriends grew weary of his late night carousing. As a revenge tactic, she doused his Sunday morning favorite, fried chicken, with cayenne pepper. But it backfired: he liked it. By the mid 1930s, Prince and his brothers perfected the process and opened a café, which they originally called the BBQ Chicken Shack.

Current owner Andre Prince Jeffries, great-niece of Thornton Prince, continues the family tradition. She brines her chicken, flours it, fries it to order, and slathers it with a secret layer of hot spices. You can order it from mild, which is not really mild, to extra hot. Ms. Jeffries likes to say, “It’s a 24 hour chicken. Hot going in and hot coming out.” The stack of crinkled dill pickle chips and slices of white bread that come with your chicken are the closest things to life rafts your taste buds will find.

At least thirteen other Nashville restaurants now serve hot chicken. And the Music City Hot Chicken Festival is in its sixth year. More recently, Nashville hot chicken has been recognized as a style of fried chicken. (Like Memphis barbecue, and Charleston she-crab soup, it’s totemic.) Restaurants from Birmingham, Alabama, to New York City now serve twists on the dish, billing it as “Nashville Hot Chicken.”

Other honorees this year include Kramarczuk's (Minneapolis), Frank Fat's (Sacramento), C.F. Folks (Washington D.C.), Keens Steakhouse (New York).

Prince's will receive their award at the foundation's annual gala on May 6.

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