How Fried Chicken Made This Fine-Dining Chef Rethink Everything

chef Eric Huang holding a plate of his signature hot fried chicken

Fried chicken and fine dining don’t usually go together. That’s what famous chef Eric Huang used to think as well. Fast forward to today, and his pop-up serving delicious hot fried chicken has an 8,000-person waitlist. Peking House is one of the hottest places in Queens, New York.

“Michelin Stars Are Stupid”

Chef Eric Huang, who previously worked as a sous chef at Eleven Madison Park, isn’t your typical Michelin-star chef. In fact, he doesn’t even know why he ever bothered with Michelin stars in the first place. To him, “Michelin stars are stupid.” It took him a long time and a pandemic to reach that conclusion.

Back in January 2020, Huang had every intention of opening his own restaurant that was supposed to reimagine authentic Chinese cuisine as a form of fine dining. And then… the pandemic happened, and his plans went down the drain.

chef Eric Huang coating his fried chicken pieces with hot sauce

His uncle’s restaurant, Peking House, had been closed because of the crisis, and Huang decided to use the kitchen to experiment. Little by little, he began to escape the “ego-oriented” mindset of fine dining and went back to the root of what cooking really means. And so, gradually, he came up with a recipe for fried chicken goodness that has thousands of New Yorkers waiting to try it.

Szechuan Hot Fried Chicken Changed Everything

After spending a decade in the fine dining industry, Huang found himself in Pecking House — a place for regular folk who enjoy high-end, inventive ingredients prepared in a kitchen where diversity is found at every level, from the top to the bottom. His signature fried chicken recipe, he says, is a natural evolution of growing up as an Asian American.

Szechuan Hot Fried Chicken

Every day, about 140 pounds of delicious Szechuan hot fried chicken deliciousness leave the restaurant to satiate the hunger of hundreds of customers. The majority of them opt for the prix fix menu — where for $35, you get three pieces of buttermilk-brined, country-fried chicken that’s been finished with Szechuan peppercorn, Tianjin chilis, asparagus with XO sauce, a butter bean salad, and roasted Yukon potatoes with peppers and ramps. Yum!