Who makes the best fried chicken in Houston? That’s up for debate, says Vince Milson, event coordinator with the Stack Marketing Group.
“There’s no real authority in Houston,” he says. “I often have arguments with my family about who makes the best fried chicken,” which partially inspired Milson to start the inaugural Southern Fried Chicken Festival, happening on Saturday, August 12, at Levy Park.
Also up for discussion: What alcoholic beverage pairs best with the dish?
“You’re going to laugh when I say this, but wine,” says Milson. “Barefoot sparkling wine. They also make a new sangria that works out really well with chicken that has a topping like chipotle.”
Milson works for a company that helps put on the Houston Fajita Festival, the Houston Whiskey Festival and the upcoming International Bacon Festival on October 7. He started thinking about other ideas that could work for a festival and eventually landed on fried chicken and fried food in general.
The shebang will feature fried chicken specialists such as Chops Gourmet Texas Catering, The Waffle Bus, The Bird Food Truck and Pat’s Wings on Wheels, all cooking for attendees and competing for the prizes of best fried chicken, most unique fried chicken dish and best side item.
The festival will also include vegan fried chicken courtesy of Nicolas Carson of Stellar Sandwiches, chicken-wing and watermelon-seed-spitting contests, and performances by Blaze and Black, Ganesha, Bow Legged Monkey, DJ Big Reeks and Sambabom Houston.
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For Milson, the perfect piece of fried chicken needs to have crispy skin (“I personally prefer a more fluffy texture”) and a well-balanced seasoning: “My mom is from San Antonio and my dad is from Louisiana, so I like when there’s a mixture of Louisiana and Texas spices, where there’s a Southern seasoning of flour and buttermilk mixed with the Texas pepper. It creates more of a spicy, but not too spicy, flavor.”
The festival, which benefits Kiel Colon Cancer, doubles as an awareness campaign for the disease that took Milson’s mother at age 51 as well as George Kiel's mom.
The inaugural Southern Fried Chicken Festival is scheduled to take place from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 12, at Levy Park, 3801 Eastside Street. For more information, call 832-633-4587 or visit southernfriedchickenfest.com. Tickets cost $10 to $75.