Montana Long Table: Artisanal Picnic
Chefs Christine Cikowski
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
At Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Chef Christine Cikowski serves a menu mindful of just how comforting food can be, especially when made with high-quality ingredients from local farmers and enhanced ever so subtly with a chef’s own touches. Opening the restaurant in Fall 2013 served as the culmination of several elements, including putting her and Co-Chef/Managing Partner Josh Kulp’s ideas into a brick-and-mortar location and continuing the community they built with a highly successful underground Chicago supper club.
Kulp and Cikowski serve homey comfort food made right—from the slightly spicy creamed corn to the signature condiment of whipped butter with Wisconsin honey. The restaurant’s delectable fried chicken is locally sourced, cage-free and self-brined and seasoned and also fried in non-GMO, trans-fat-free oil.
Cikowski worked in restaurants as a teen. But she didn’t follow her passion for cooking until she was 27, enrolling in Kendall College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. Cikowski worked at the respected Blackbird in Chicago after graduating, and her experience at the award-wining restaurant grafted onto her personal chef philosophies.
When she’s not greeting customers at Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Cikowski can be found writing for her website, www.achefwhowrites.com, or planning her next getaway. “I travel as much as I can,” she says, “because it always gives me great perspective and a touchstone to nature and to life in the larger world.”
Our hands-down favorite this past year came from Avondale’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken. At the center is that wondrous fried chicken—boneless, skin-on thigh and breast (whole drumsticks too), double-battered to a loud crunch, dusted with smoked paprika and reminiscent of Spanish chorizo.