Cal Wallace

The inspiration: Justified, Season 1, Episode 8. Hostage-taker, Cal Wallace (pictured), makes a demand for hot chicken.

Our hot chicken journey began with an episode of Justified, set just across the border in Kentucky, and our recent move to Middle Tennessee. In that episode, a hostage-taker makes a demand for “Prince’s hot chicken” from Nashville, Tennessee. (Fun Fact: IMDb incorrectly attributes Wallace’s reference to Prince’s to a restaurant in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, but The Nashville Scene sets the record straight.)

Curiosity about this reference to our new stomping grounds — as well as a vigilant look-out for the local and unique in food — led to a Google search.

This search pointed us in a number of directions: Prince’s (of course), Hattie B’s, Pepperfire, and others. Our first destination, though, was Hattie B’s — noteworthy for its web presence and proximity to other business we were doing in Nashville on a quiet afternoon in March, 2013.

We Were Hooked

With that first taste, we were hooked on hot chicken and were hungry for more. While the chicken digested, we started to research restaurants, recipes, and events — determined to try it all. By the end of the summer, we made it to one more restaurant, the Hot Chicken Festival, and fired up our own fryers to satisfy the craving at home (blog featuring the recipe to come).

When a new group of friends asks, “Where should we go for dinner?” our answer is “Hot Chicken.” When family and friends visit from out-of-state, we either make up a batch or take them directly to the source. When those people also become hooked, we feed their fixation by making hot chicken and macaroni and cheese for Christmas dinner.

Why Start This Challenge Now?

By now, we’re more than hot chicken rookies, so why start a record of our effort to try all the chicken shacks? There are two simple reasons. First, while we’ve said that we should seek out all the hot chicken in Nashville, we find ourselves returning to the same couple of places. For good reason, of course — those places offer up some delicious hot chicken! Alas, we have stalled on our early ambition. So, if we are going to pay more than lip service to this goal, we need to raise the stakes and put our personal challenge out into the world. We’re counting on you, Internet, to keep us on this tasty path.

Along the way, this blog will serve as our record of the many great memories had and the many more to come. We have introduced our friends and families to this Nashville specialty and — as anyone who has had to share a coveted table at a local shack with complete strangers can attest — have met some awesome people. Thus, our challenge promises even more adventure than our taste buds will experience; we don’t want to miss out. (We also don’t want to leave gaps in the memory when we inevitably disagree about which hot chicken place ranks above another.)