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EP 34 / Chef Kenny Gilbert / Founder of Silkie’s Chicken & Champagne, Beater of Bobby Flay

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Chef Kenny Gilbert is the founder of Silkie's Chicken & Champagne Bar and Chef Kenny Brands. In his career he's cooked for Oprah, still does in fact, and beat Bobby Flay on national TV. In this episode he lays out how he got to this level in his career, and what makes a fantastic fried chicken dish. We discuss his journey and how others can rise up in the culinary world.

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EP 34 / Chef Kenny Gilbert / Founder of Silkie's Chicken & Champagne, Beater of Bobby Flay
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Show Notes

  • Silkie’s is located in Historic Springfield area of Jacksonville – Biscuits, fried chicken, and champagne
  • Spice blend line available on Amazon – 5 spices in a gift set with recipe cards
  • Launching new sauce line in January/Feb of 2022
  • Why Champagne and Chicken? Did an event in South Beach food and wine festival called Chicken Coop which was fried chicken and champagne. Everyone loved the food they made and wife suggested bringing it back to Jacksonville
  • Closed original southern barbecue restaurants in anticipation of a move
  • Quarantine opened the opportunity to open the concept
  • Cooks for Oprah Winfrey since 2014
  • Named after a beautiful chicken called a Silky
  • Talked about beating Bobby Flay on the show Beat Bobby Flay. Challenged him with Chicken and Dumplings.
  • Discussed how he got to cooking for Oprah and other accolades:
  • “Whatever your goals are professionally, you don’t look for ‘i want to cook for these people’ you look for ‘hey I want to be the best I can be in my profession.'”- Kenny Gilbert
  • “Every chef is an artist” – Kenny Gilbert
  • Mom’s recipe was traditional and great
 
Transcript

00:00.00
vigorbranding
Hey everyone today I’m joined by my friend chef Kenny Gilbert of silkie’s chicken champagne bar and chef kenny brands ah Kenny won’t you give everyone a little bit of backstory and say hello.

00:10.20
Chef Kenny
Well, thanks for having me um, gosh I’ve been in the business for the better part of thirty plus years professionally I’ve run everything from fine dining ah restaurants to luxury brand. You know if I Haven and foster our hotels. Um, you know been a corporate chef for restaurant group worked in the caribbean did a little bit of everything I currently have a restaurant in Jacksonville Florida. It’s called silky’s chicken and champagne bar. We’re located in Historic Springfield area of Jacksonville. We’ve been open exactly a year we’re focused on biscuits and fried chicken and champagne and all in between um, cool little fast casual kind of a upscale fast casual concept counter service where best basic guests can walk in. We don’t take reservations. You just walk in place an order. With the cashier. We give you a number you you know you get your drink immediately and then sit down and we deliver your food and we’re hands off. We’ve kind of opened this concept based on having you know what? all the everything that’s going on with covid and whatnot an uncertainty. We wanted to have something that was a you know, low overhead. Um, that still was able to put out a quality product. So we’ve been doing that and it’s been very well received and I also have chef Kenny brands. Um, which we have ah a lot of different things rolled up into that but we have ah I have my spice blends that I sell on Amazon. As well as my website http://chefkinnyilbert.com we have 5 spices that we feature and they come with in the gift set. It comes with recipe cards and a nice little gift box. You can also buy individually and buy bulk by way of the website. Um. So I’ve been doing that for a long time and we’re getting ready to launch our so sauce line as well. That’s should be coming out by the end of January in yeah, that’s about it or home.

02:09.57
vigorbranding
So so you’re so you’re not busy at all, you’re you’re just kind of bored. Um, no, that’s great. So we’ll get into the the retail line in a minute but I wanted to dig into first. The inspiration between combining fried chicken this like southern classic staple. With champagne and I presume sparkling wine I presume you’re not a champagne purist. Maybe you are though? Um, so what’s the inspiration behind that how did that come to be is that a I don’t know a cultural thing or is it just like hey I love champagne I love chicken they go well together I because the sweet and the salty do go well together.

02:31.89
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah.

02:44.77
Chef Kenny
Yeah, for sure. So yeah, we do offer sparkling as well. We’re not just exclusive to champagne I don’t think everyone be able to necessary afford to do that every day but ah we have we have everything in between we we highlight champagne cocktails. Ah, ah.

02:54.66
vigorbranding
A.

03:03.81
Chef Kenny
And ah, ultimately the ideas we I was featured doing an event down at the South Beach food wine festival a number of years ago and their event was part of a number events but the 1 event that I was a part of was called chicken coop it was fried chicken and ah.

03:16.69
vigorbranding
E.

03:22.59
Chef Kenny
You know and champagne kind of event. So anyone love fried chicken a low champagne. They go well together. You know the the bubbles and you know well you get ah a brute or or a demisec or something like that. It compliments the chicken based on spice levels and whatnot. So. Anyway I was highlighted there. We did a really cool um hot chicken sandwich. Um, and everyone loved it. I remember my wife saying at the time that oh we need to bring something like this back to Jacksonville because it’s nothing like that you know it’d be great to be to have different versions and different concepts. Um. So at the time we are running modern and traditional southern barbecue southern and barbecue restaurants which high at fried chicken which there is a reason why we were invited to do that event. Ah, but since I’ve closed those restaurants. Um, when I was anticipating moving to another state and city to open another concept. Pre pandemicmic. Um, we were talking about. You know when I was stuck at the house cooking ah meals posting on social media like you know during this crazy time that we were all quarantined for the most part. Ah you know Ah, my wife was like oh we should probably try to do that concept and ah.

04:33.11
vigorbranding
A.

04:35.80
Chef Kenny
I remember ah you know throughout the throughout the year year you know I was just doing on this different meals and different things and then at one point I doing fried chicken and biscuits one particular Saturday we saw like 80 orders. Um, and then what really put the the icing on the cake was um, you know I’ve done meals. You know for the holidays cooking for Oprah Winfrey since 14 and she happened to call me ah last year um and was like hey Kenny we were just yeah, wanted to check in and say hey see how you’re doing and everything but I need you to settle a bet for me.

04:56.12
vigorbranding
Um.

05:14.10
Chef Kenny
You know it was a bet when she actually yeah actually first had my fried chicken and biscuits sandwich and and it happened to be in Maui we’re cooking for some special vip guest and it was the first time that she had had at that point but she was she there was a bet between her her and.

05:18.34
vigorbranding
Yeah, yeah.

05:30.36
Chef Kenny
Ah, Kirby and will Gail’s kids and and so I settled the bet and then when I hung up the phone I looked I looked at my why was ah we’re open on fried chicken and biscuit concept I was kind of like I was kind of like check any any kind of doubt of what concept we should be doing.

05:39.15
vigorbranding
Yeah, that was it.

05:47.91
Chef Kenny
That was that was put in the universe and so we we confirmed that so we sat around looking for names thinking about names for the concept and you know so I ended up coming up with silkies because I wanted to kind of just be a vibe. You know one they’re like all this like sounds like a silky smooth. But.

06:02.31
vigorbranding
A.

06:06.96
Chef Kenny
Silky is actually our kind of our mascot. It’s ah ah, silky as a silky is a type of chicken that native to to China is a black pigment chicken and used for a lot of soups and different dishes and and it’s a really beautiful bird very flamboyant looking beautiful.

06:23.54
vigorbranding
Yeah, a lot of plumage Very fluffy, um, almost looks like a pompom walking around.

06:24.82
Chef Kenny
Feather. So yeah, exactly so our masking on the wall has like a saying says bring on the bubbly and um, she has like a Diamond headset. Um, and then kind of like ah a pearl necklace with a ruby on it so it was kind of like a whole whole character. So We really wanted to focus in on ah ladies coming in to ah you know have a girls night out. Um you know, have some fun or it could be a cool date night. Um, or. You know a meeting spot for a meat. You know, different things so we wanted to have it where have a good masculine as well as feminine feel and so we highlight these you know champagne cocktails the compliment the the chicken sandwiches that we do and we came up with some really cool names that that we feel like that.

07:12.11
vigorbranding
Me.

07:17.73
Chef Kenny
Ladies all lot that sounds really cool like I would want to have that as a drink you know so.

07:19.85
vigorbranding
Yeah, the the vibe to me seems um like Andre 3000 sorry from Atlanta so you’re going to get the Atlanta References Andre 3000 from like the ah that split album that they did that got so popular you know he was always sort of like.

07:28.66
Chef Kenny
Yeah, you have all.

07:35.58
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, ever. So.

07:39.11
vigorbranding
Dapper and sort a bit of a dandy look you know so it’s almost like bring all the bub Lisa um, quite lovely. So what is in in Europe. Well first of all the the debt or the bet. Um, for Oprah was it that you make the best fried chicken sandwich in the world. But what was the bet.

07:53.15
Chef Kenny
Oh there was the the bet was when she actually first consumed the chicken and biscuit because when I one of the first times I made the biscuits it was ah um I don’t know if it was 2016 or 2017 and it was a jalipeno cheddar biscuit. And um, it was it was a part of our um, our new year’s day brunch and and I remember she was walking through the buffet and you know doing her narration. What she usually does for the holidays. You know that she posts on Instagram and then she came by and picked up the biscuit. And was like oh in these jalapeno cheddar biscuits but not today and she was like wait watchers. Love you and she was like she put it down and she was ah you know she was you know during the holidays. She’s always um, you know, enjoys everything but is always very conscious about.

08:38.33
vigorbranding
Um.

08:52.40
Chef Kenny
You know her, you know what she consumed or whatnot and I think that time she wanted to ah do something special because I think that’s when she ended having a speech for the Oscars um, by sure theyreafter and so she was you know, very very focused even more. So um.

09:00.39
vigorbranding
Um, in a.

09:11.21
Chef Kenny
And that moment because I think she was getting a lifetime achievement award or something like that at the time. So.

09:12.88
vigorbranding
Right? So um, we’ll get into the fried chicken in a minute but Oprah’s not the first celebrity that you’ve had a brush with and the other one that I’m referencing. Well you you beat them. And that’s that’s a very hard thing to do and that’s ah, Mr. bobby flay so you you beat him at his own game for those that don’t know bobby flay has a show. It’s called beat bobby flay and chefs compete to compete against him so the first 2 chefs compete against themselves.

09:32.84
Chef Kenny
Higher. Yeah.

09:47.89
vigorbranding
Ah, to get to that stage and then whoever wins that round goes on to beat Bobby Flay with their own dish. So um, for instance, you know if you’re really good at cooking lasagna you challenge Bobby to make a lasagna that’s better and then there’s 3 unquote unbiased judges that blind taste test and award the winner.

09:58.22
Chef Kenny
Um, right.

10:06.44
vigorbranding
And honestly I think I’ve maybe seen 1 episode I don’t watch it religiously where someone’s won. Um, so that’s quite an achievement I think the win ratio if I had to guess is like maybe like 5 % of people win. Um, and this is bobby making stuff that he doesn’t normally make so. I’ve seen exotic things like pieia and and things like that that he just is out of his comfort zone. So one. What did you challenge him with and 2 how the hell did that feel.

10:31.62
Chef Kenny
Ah, um I challenge him with um chicken and dumplings. Um, so I had a version of chicken and dumplings that was you know, not super traditional, but it was.

10:37.97
vigorbranding
E.

10:49.72
Chef Kenny
You know when you get it. You know it’s kind of like that warm hug you get from Grandma when you when you consume it and it has some other influences into it. You know like I had like pimento cheese nudy with the dumplings that I made um you know I purate the vegetables in to make the sauce so that it didn’t have as much fat in it.

10:54.10
vigorbranding
Yep.

11:09.21
Chef Kenny
Um, and there was a lot of nice rolls of vegetables that complimented so that it was this nice soup of dumplings and chicken but also had nice rolls of vegetables with it. So very airbaceious. So yeah I felt amazing to beat him. He ended up doing something with like a sweet potato spatzel.

11:21.38
vigorbranding
Um, yeah. You.

11:27.50
Chef Kenny
Was his version of dumplings. Um, and I think that you know ah I think if he had pulled off the the super potato spatzel properly. Um that he could have had a chance because those are dumplings.

11:42.41
vigorbranding
Right? but.

11:44.18
Chef Kenny
Um, and if it had the right sauce ratio I don’t know I didn’t taste it I didn’t really see that all it what everyone else saw like on Tv but um, you know that you know the fact that he went that route. Um, you know just shows his diversity and and culinary ability. Yeah.

11:57.32
vigorbranding
Yeah, he’s amazing I mean I’d be a little upset that I didn’t get to taste it. You know went win or lose i’ be like no no no I want to taste what he may like so fair.

12:04.91
Chef Kenny
Yeah, now that put up production is ah is on a tight schedule that will be a cool part of the show is that you get a chance to taste each other’s food might be a nice little upgrade to the to the show for sure.

12:15.11
vigorbranding
Yeah, yeah, absolutely like because I mean could you imagine like if you let’s say he won and you taste and you’re like what this is garbage. What like you know, like the the energy.

12:26.20
Chef Kenny
Yeah, you know? yeah, you’re you’re right? Yeah 100%. Um, it’s ah you know on top Chef you know like you’re able to you know we’re able to taste each other’s food sometimes like when the cameras are off. We will go around and try certain things. Or when we’re cooking you can just tell that someone else had made something really really special that was uniquely either uniquely different or it was super super traditional. You know, but the the perception of the of the of the of the judge and their palate.

12:49.54
vigorbranding
You had.

13:04.92
Chef Kenny
And what they like to eat there’s there are all those different variables that are in there. Um, ah you know if you’re cooking for Pama You know it’s like it better come with a lot of flavor and better be balanced because coming from her her roots. You know that’s how she’s used to eating you know.

13:14.73
vigorbranding
Okay.

13:20.78
vigorbranding
Right.

13:22.60
Chef Kenny
Um, and if she doesn’t understand a cuisine or maybe this hasn’t had it then she’s gonna still look for balance and base it in all those areas whether she knows about deep root Southern food or Italian you know so you got to be able to both.

13:34.18
vigorbranding
Right? Yeah well and so we had ah chef Scott Cotton on a little bit ago and that’s another example like I you know I had a little bit of a joke of a question there like talk to me about red onions because notoriously you know on chopped. For instance, you’ll see people.

13:40.31
Chef Kenny
Yeah.

13:50.90
Chef Kenny
And.

13:52.87
vigorbranding
Take red onions and just put them on top of something and every time he’s like what are you doing you know like you got to do something with these because it’s too powerful and um and then same thing like if you’re cooking for so chef Scott Cona and you’re going to bring pasta you better better bring it you better, bring some really good pasta and don’t mess it up.

13:57.70
Chef Kenny
Yeah, and.

14:08.65
Chef Kenny
Yeah, the for story.

14:11.87
vigorbranding
Ah, so yeah, you really do have to cook for the chef for the ah the the judges like you said so we’ve just we’ve just dropped some serious names in the business I think a big question for up and coming chefs that may be listening is how how did you get here. How do you get to the point where Oprah Winfrey is calling you on the phone I mean she calls me all the time of course, but you know for other people.

14:34.40
Chef Kenny
Um, you know I think what ends up happening is um I think it’s with the energy you put out in the Universe. You know I Really I Really believe that I think that whatever your goals are professionally. Um, you don’t necessarily look for like oh I want to cook for these people I want to do this or that you look at hey I want to be the best I can be in my profession. Um and be good at what I do in my wheelhouse because everyone every every chef is an artist. You know it’s like rating paintings you know from this famous artist to this famous artist. They’re different perspectives is who is to say who is a better Artist. You know, um, you can say that you like this style versus this style and I think that for me.

15:12.80
vigorbranding
Anyway.

15:23.30
Chef Kenny
The way it started was me in my career going to culinary school. You know, even going back to going to home eck in seventh and eighth grade and having that that and you know instilling me and then going to every program in high school. Um and then working for the Ritz Carlton company you know, learning that.

15:41.74
vigorbranding
A bit.

15:42.44
Chef Kenny
Um, I’m I’m on a meet it. Um, sorry um, ah so I I basically worked you know my way up through the Ritz Carlton company worked at a very high level. You know, running fight out and fourar restaurants.

15:48.25
vigorbranding
Um, but yeah.

16:01.56
Chef Kenny
Ah, for several years being a very young chef doing it and traveling around the country and around the world gave me exposure um and the Ritz Carlton was a platform for me to start that so when you’re cooking it at a high level for the top 5% you know top five ten percent right

16:12.74
vigorbranding
Um, yes.

16:21.27
Chef Kenny
it’s it’s um you know you’re you’re already at a certain point where you know you’re going to be interacting with certain levels of people. Um, and you’re not thinking about it. You’re just like well I’m just passionately cooking what I want and what I’m learning about and sharing that and and then I think the other part of it is. Ah, relationships with your yeah, the people that you’re meeting around the world. My friend Sonny Sweetman you know right when I became chef and ninety ninety six of the drill room which is a 5 I and 4 star restaurant. The Ritz Carlton of the Island Sonny had moved down from Baltimore um, he was. Becoming the chef with a cafe and they they were doing a full remodel. Um, and they recontited to call kaffy forty seven fifty where he basically basically introduced new recipes and concept for this restaurant when he first arrived there weren’t any hotel rooms available things like that and so I basically. And invite him to my home Basically you know let him sleep at my home I fed him. You know, gave him what he needed until he he was able to get his own place. Um, you know in a hotel room until he was able to move stuff come down for bal or whatever. So at the end of the day we ended up. Um, but you know breaking bread.

17:29.80
vigorbranding
A.

17:35.10
Chef Kenny
And buildium relationship and he you know like fast forward to now you know over the last several years he was working out in l a you know working at the hotel Bel Air Ms Winfrey happened to come in to come have some tea with some some of the girls um or some of her friends. He you know making the tea for he met. He met netter at that point he started cooking for ah you know, basically at the hotel and whatnot and then they offered him a job once he got that job offer he then called me and said hey Kenny you know you would not believe it. Um I just took a new job.

18:03.24
vigorbranding
Oh well.

18:12.25
Chef Kenny
As a private chef for Oprah Winfrey he’s ah I was like get the hell out of here and it was like why more and then he said then he said um, you know she likes to have you know it’s very important for her to have good people around her and I know we’re gonna be doing a lot of cool events and I would love for you to be a part of this journey with me.

18:15.10
vigorbranding
Um, yeah, yeah.

18:31.20
Chef Kenny
Um, is helping out and do events and stuff like that whenever I call upon you or whatever and I need your help and I said man I got you no problem and it started like literally doing I was invited to do a party for ah I think the her property where she you know where she bought a.

18:48.44
vigorbranding
Maybe.

18:48.75
Chef Kenny
You know, promised land. She did a special eightieth birthday party for the the person she bought the home from and I was invited to come down to help run the event and execute the event with sunny and some other chefs and that’s the first time I kind of somewhat met her. Um that was like earlier part of toothport 2014

18:55.58
vigorbranding
Oh.

19:08.70
Chef Kenny
And then I was invited to come out to cook for the holidays for Thanksgiving Christmas and New Year’s and so I did it and then I cook for this selman movie premiere so like literally within from 2 point and 14 I literally did ah 2

19:18.83
vigorbranding
It.

19:27.87
Chef Kenny
like 2 like 2 very high level events and then I cook for like three weeks four weeks for her and her family and that led into me yeah me making the money that I did and then ultimately opening up my first restaurant by my you know with my wife. So.

19:35.33
vigorbranding
Yeah.

19:46.14
Chef Kenny
So that’s how I got there, you know at end a day. It’s the position you put yourself into where you’re working and then the relationships you build I mean I broke bread with a a gentleman back in 9096 that still remembered you know since 2014 like we’ve always been friends and he’s like.

19:46.66
vigorbranding
Nux.

20:02.62
Chef Kenny
Man I would love for you to be on this journey with me. So really, it was through I really feel like me opening up my heart and my home just naturally you know back in 90 s six that manifested to our relationship over the years and then I got the opportunity in 2014

20:09.68
vigorbranding
Right.

20:17.17
vigorbranding
I love it. Yeah, it’s so it’s so easy to sit back and I think a lot of people do this students you know or people early on in their careers. They they see folks like you they see folks like Danny Meyer or name the person that is at least. Ah, shooting star or on an upward trajectory and they say I want that but they don’t see all the stuff in between and I think what’s interesting is if you look at trajectory from the side view and I think that’s how most people look at it. You know it. It starts down and then and it shoots up and sometimes it’s a drastic shoot. Sometimes it’s a little bit longer.

20:36.50
Chef Kenny
Um, no, who.

20:53.44
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah.

20:55.31
vigorbranding
Whatever but they just see Upward Momentum But if if you take that that perspective and go over top and look down on that trajectory I Think what you start to see is more of a Zigzag you know? ah I’m over here then I’m here you know being open to those opportunities. Not.

21:06.94
Chef Kenny
All hundred months fat.

21:15.90
vigorbranding
Screwing people over but knowing when it’s time to move on and how to do that in a way that is amiable and sets the you know the person that gave you that chance that you’re walking away from up for success after you and then like you said creating those relationships and ultimately breaking bread. It’s it’s why. You know I always say life’s most memorable moments happen around food and beverage and that’s the whole thing if you break bread together. There is a It’s an intimate connection in the right ways and you get to really learn someone.

21:37.33
Chef Kenny
Um, that’s right.

21:43.98
Chef Kenny
So absolutely. Um, you know and while all this stuff is going on. You’re going through life life challenges. You know you know is it is real. It’s bad relationship. Maybe you know? yeah you know there was an an auto accident you a new car like there’s.

21:51.27
vigorbranding
Um, yeah.

22:03.70
Chef Kenny
A million things that go under that like it’s not like you’re just like okay I’m a robot um I just been doing this for x amount of time and I just did it perfectly. You’re right? It is a zigzag and um, and ultimately when you’re able to that being sunny like we still do this to this day.

22:10.61
vigorbranding
For him.

22:20.10
Chef Kenny
We first started talking in the office or the office that we shared in that main kitchen. We we talked about food. We talked about life. Um, we talked about yeah training development of our people wanting to be the best goals that we actually had and um and we still have those same conversations. It always is.

22:34.37
vigorbranding
A.

22:39.97
Chef Kenny
About a great dish or a concept of something then it goes into family and what’s going on in our in our world. Um, it goes into potential opportunities out there from a product or a brand that we think we can you know want to want to manifest into something special. Um, and then it is always end up being like you know man I love you. Thank you very much and you I’ll connect with you in and you know in a month or 2 or something like that you know and it’s like we still been doing that that same thing since 96 and I do that with other chefs and other friends as well and that’s why.

23:05.17
vigorbranding
Right.

23:15.52
Chef Kenny
You know, like when someone needs um something we know we can call on each other any given time and we’ll make it happen whether it be a phone call whether it be flying out there to do the event or whatever it takes and ah so yeah, for sure.

23:25.12
vigorbranding
Right? It’s great to find those people that um, although in a sense you compete because you’re you’re in the same industry but I’ve always been a proponent of a rising tide. You know you know you don’t need to sink ships to make yours float Better. You just need to focus on your ship and then also help others out where you can. Um So let’s move from breaking bread to breaking baking breaking biscuits. Um, so tell me in your opinion. What makes a top notch. Fantastic Fried chicken.

23:51.80
Chef Kenny
Me hang.

24:00.68
vigorbranding
And then we’ll do the same for biscuits like what is it is it. The crunch is it the the color is it. You know, ah the type of oil. What are some of the mechanics without giving away Kenny’s secret sauce.

24:10.93
Chef Kenny
Um I think it’s you know? Ultimately, it’s starting off with a good product. You know it’s the chicken itself. Um, and then from there it goes into what what What are you trying to achieve out of this chicken. You know like are you that what is your theme is it. Korean is it classic southern is it double fried crispy um is it. You know naked you know is it breaded. You know what it like what are you trying to achieve out of it and then um, then you. Maximizing the seasoning and flavor profiles based on that concept and then um, you know I think it’s brine. You know, um, it’s your philosophy. Are you gonna do some kind of brine or you gonna do just a buttermilk kind of deal. Um like or you just. Putting the seasoning straight on and then dredging it and then frying it. You know my mom used to take her chicken and wash it in the sink and then season it with lorries and garlic powder and lemon pepper and black pepper um onion powder. Whatever let you know paprika.

25:18.25
vigorbranding
A.

25:20.21
Chef Kenny
And then she would let it you know, throw a bunch of flour on it and just kind of let it get tacky in the sink and then she would get her grease and her cast on her skilllet going and then she would throw a little more floer on there because it ah basically create this little batter around it and then the last little dusting gave it that nice little crunch and she would fry it up come around out of the grease. And then let us sit there and then I would eat it so soon they came out of the grease with some hot saucews you know and to me there’s there’s some people like a lot of bredding some people like don’t some people like it spicy like like some people are like original Kfc type people and some are popeyes.

25:42.37
vigorbranding
Yeah.

25:57.30
vigorbranding
Yeah, we’ll talk about Popeyes in a second. Yeah.

25:59.10
Chef Kenny
You know I mean good You know I mean there’s yeah you know I mean like and then there’s and then there’s inbeween. It’s like going to get a great Korean fried chicken wing and having that crunch like like you bit in the glass you know is like do you like that version. Um. And then you know or do you like Italian do you like? ah you like a chicken par caught a type of fried chicken I mean there’s ah you know so you know do you like just panco you know like like a Japanese style like there’s ah, there’s a million ways gonna send a cat you know so speak. But.

26:17.52
vigorbranding
Um.

26:30.90
vigorbranding
Yeah, so so for you is Mom’s chicken. Still the best.

26:34.98
Chef Kenny
You know what she doesn’t even fry chicken anymore. She hasn’t cooked for me since I was like 12 so so yeah, yeah I know it was file is file like I came in I’m sure if she did it would be amazing and I would probably get emotional.

26:39.96
vigorbranding
Oh Man Mom What’s going on if you. Yet.

26:51.15
Chef Kenny
But she Larry said whoa. That’s why you’re so good at cooking right now because I stopped and while you just to do it I’m like yeah okay, yeah, some people call that neglect.

26:55.66
vigorbranding
Yeah that’s 1 way of putting it mom. Yeah so you said Brian and and oh man I’m gonna I’m gonna be raw I have ptsd from the word. Brine. So. My wife and I were were going through a renovation of the house and so we’re packing things up, but that’s right around Thanksgiving and for me thanksgiving meal. It’s it’s it’s my it’s the one like for me like I know that for a fact I had open art surgery a few years back um and even though it was a high probability of success.

27:30.86
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah, yeah.

27:31.36
vigorbranding
There’s still that chance right? So what’s my last meal I’m like mom I want you know I want thanksgiving meal you know and so my my mom my wife and I we we had that so that’s my meal I love it and I’m really good at making it you know I’ve gotten really good at it well in the rush. Ah Kenny I mean the worst turkey in the world.

27:43.78
Chef Kenny
My.

27:50.91
vigorbranding
It was so bad. It was inedible. My wife’s over there trying to eat it and I’m like stop acting like it’s good. It’s not good. You know like I’m looking at her and she’s like it’s not. It’s not that bad I’m like it’s that bad. So I think what had happened is ignorantly I picked up a brined chicken I mean up Turkey and I don’t think I knew it.

27:56.48
Chef Kenny
No.

28:09.99
vigorbranding
Um, now I didn’t rebrine it but olive oil Salt Pepper I didn’t have a turkey bag I’m a big fan of turkey bags for a lot of reasons man it was like rubber it was like salted rubber. It was that bad anyway.

28:17.69
Chef Kenny
And. I will.

28:25.30
vigorbranding
So I don’t talk about brinding anymore even though I know it’s a good thing to do in a certain style that if you want it but man that Brian got me. Um it was the saddest thing ever. Um, and then of course you know Christmas we didn’t get the meal because of covid and everyone got aicron and but bla blah. So.

28:30.83
Chef Kenny
While I’m at it.

28:40.85
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah.

28:43.16
vigorbranding
I think I might have to do a real like when I get back in my house hopefully in June maybe may hopefully may my first order of business in my kitchen is to reapproach the thanksgiving that I messed up and just do it right? You know come out swing and um, so all right back back to you more importantly.

28:53.40
Chef Kenny
My wife now. Um, a.

29:03.14
vigorbranding
Um, so you open silkiess in the pandemic. How to how did it do I mean I presume it did okay.

29:09.35
Chef Kenny
Yeah, it didn’t I mean my landlord. Um, we really set up a good you know, rent kind of ah you know budget and plan so like it was. Both or both in a winning situation is a percentage based rent. So if we do well he does well you know the first year ah we really he really put it at a scale that was able to help me save money to be able to reinvest in the business also be able to save money throughout the year

29:29.34
vigorbranding
It’s great.

29:46.47
Chef Kenny
Um, because we didn’t know what’s going on I mean we I knew that for like you know, 2 3 years if not a little bit longer that we’re going to have ah some dropoff in terms of business and and it’s hard enough to find people to come to drive the Springfield anyway because it’s like an old spot that it was original old school Jacksonville and.

30:03.53
vigorbranding
E.

30:05.81
Chef Kenny
You know I’ve been going through a renovation phase and a lot of beautiful homes are being built here or remodeled but at 1 point it was the hood you know, um, and ah and now it’s it’s really a prominent neighborhood in the area but some people that are old Jacksonville they they still think of it as how was back in the day.

30:11.62
vigorbranding
In here.

30:25.77
Chef Kenny
Um, so there’s that stigma the fight. Um, but ultimately you know we we were able to open up something that was based on just a couple people cooking me and my so chef at the time. Um and a and couple cashier slash food runners made everything disposable. Trays with paper but be able to put out food that was the look great well- presented but didn’t have to be on bone China you know, um, and ah you know we don’t have a dishwasher you know all glasses are hand washshed. You know that we have we.

30:59.86
vigorbranding
Here. Nice.

31:02.72
Chef Kenny
And um, but everything else is disposable 3 bay pot sink there now even a dishwasher in the kitchen. So for us to be able to execute what we do just by hand washing and cleaning keeping the place clean and whatnot is.

31:06.43
vigorbranding
While.

31:17.89
Chef Kenny
Ah, it helps everything to scale full service restaurants that like scare the hell out of me now in this climate because you have to have a hostess you have to have you know the um you know a barteny of a full bar. They’re going to have a back a back? ah bar you know, ah person you’re have to have.

31:24.60
vigorbranding
Yep.

31:36.79
Chef Kenny
Food runners. You gotta to have dishwashers and potwashers and you X you know you’re you? Yeah yeah, but yeah, all that in between and it’s It’s a lot whereas I run this business with my cashiers a sous chef. Um.

31:40.56
vigorbranding
Um, and a weight stuff that’s actually good energy in them. Yeah yeah, keep going. Yeah.

31:55.61
Chef Kenny
Ah, cashier slash runners. You know I paid them a bit oli rate we pull the tips they get 80% of those tips the 20 of the 20% goes to the the dishwasshers and the cooks everyone eats and makes good money and they get bonus incentives based on.

31:55.63
vigorbranding
You.

32:13.87
Chef Kenny
Um, how well the place is looking is clean and whatnot I basically at any given time to say like Christmas like you know after he’s getting back for cooking for Ms Winfrey I you know I bought nice gifts which we plan on having our Christmas party after the fact but you know I put on their paychecks here’s extra money in a merry christmas you know like um, so.

32:28.97
vigorbranding
Yeah, yeah.

32:33.80
Chef Kenny
Ah, keep it to scale and still be able to put out. We don’t have to do a million covers to do financially well like we want to do as much as we possibly can. But I’m also not trying to kill us. You know we’re close Sundays and Monday days. Um, you know Tuesday through Thursday we’re four zero p m and nine Zero p M and a Friday and Saturday at 10 0 m the 9 p m.

32:42.55
vigorbranding
Sure.

32:52.78
Chef Kenny
I just open all day every day just because I mean I realized during the pandemic that ah while I was at home people had to pick up the food like between 4 and six o’clock at for my house. You know I mean I was caretaking for my father-inlaw who was 97 so it’s like I’m walking out.

33:04.20
vigorbranding
Right.

33:11.64
Chef Kenny
With bags and a mask and gloves and dropping off food on their car and they knew that they had to put their orders in you know you know before 3 you know, proverbably earlier. Um, they had it semi moneyney cash up or venmo or whatever.

33:20.91
vigorbranding
Yep.

33:26.79
Chef Kenny
And ah, then they had to pick up between 4 and 6 they tech that I trained them they they knew that between you know this is what they had to do in order to get the food and they did it and people did it weekly. You know, like multiple times a week and so I realized that if you communicate the process.

33:35.16
vigorbranding
Yep.

33:45.40
Chef Kenny
People will follow that process you know so they ended up having to follow the process in order to get the food so it worked out for me and it worked out for them if they were running late. They were able to communicate and so that translated into not having to be open seven days a week you know 11 a m to. TenPM every day just because you’re trying to maximize you know. Could you read the building you pay rent on you’re paying it 24 hours a day 365 so um, I looked at it as how can I also generate revenue and other opportunities within this space.

34:10.37
vigorbranding
Thing right.

34:23.17
Chef Kenny
Ah, that basically fits into our willhouse of our what we’re trying to achieve in this in the ability. Wow killing ourselves.

34:29.84
vigorbranding
Right? So is that what led to the the rubs and the forthcoming sauces then.

34:34.98
Chef Kenny
So no, the rubs had been going on for since 2010 you know we made our overs favorite things list and 2020 um and and then from there but I’ve been working on it using these spices in my restaurants for years.

34:39.38
vigorbranding
Okay, nice.

34:52.27
Chef Kenny
Um, we just I was able to get into Amazon so once I got that in then I saw that at the but the but the revenue potential is I like okay well I need to try to get these out even further. So then so right now I like I just hired an agent that’s gonna be going out there and you know looking at getting products into. Ah, you know the sams and ah the fresh markers and whole foods and stuff like that same thing with the sauces when they launch I’ve been doing all this stuff from out I’ve been manifesting this as I was a little kid cooking and up to my dad doing barbecue. Um.

35:13.46
vigorbranding
Yep.

35:20.85
vigorbranding
Yeah, yeah.

35:26.36
Chef Kenny
To have my own sauces and spices and finally being able to get it into a bottle and selling it. Um, you know and people knowing that they want to buy you know I know that that people want to buy it because they bought it throughout the restaurants just hey can I get a pint of that sauce I’m going back to the Memphis and I want to take that barbecue sauce with me. Whatever.

35:42.58
vigorbranding
Yeah, yeah.

35:45.28
Chef Kenny
You know, um, that’s you know I feel good about it. So I’ve yeah I’ve been talking about this for a long time and you know we’re gonna continue to add to the to that and and that’s the goal. The goal with that is to create generational wealth right? like Mccormick they who.

35:58.99
vigorbranding
Of course.

36:04.66
Chef Kenny
Mccormick Ah you know Hilton you know Walmart I mean these are all places these are these are names of these families right? and they started something and then the entire family basically has been cultivated and grown up in the business.

36:06.55
vigorbranding
Yeah.

36:20.10
Chef Kenny
So it all stays within the family and I’m trying to look at to do the same thing if I could put something out there with my name and people are used to serving. Yeah using this food these spices or rubs or sauces or whatever in their home and their kids have developed pallets based on enjoying those items.

36:20.34
vigorbranding
Chair.

36:37.92
Chef Kenny
Then guess what when those kids get older. They’re like oh no honey I have to have chef Kenney’s raging cajun spots when I do my fried catfish or I have to have the simmon coffee road when we do brisket. So as long as I’m around even beyond me the goal is that this prac is still going to be there because.

36:45.20
vigorbranding
Right.

36:56.92
Chef Kenny
Kid you know generation after the generation the same way that I’m automatically gonna have lorries and lemon pepper Mccormick Lemon pepper and whatever in my cabinet you know, like as a standard because that’s the flavors I remember my mom cooking with and my dad then.

37:05.64
vigorbranding
Right.

37:14.92
Chef Kenny
You know it’s the same way. So.

37:15.22
vigorbranding
Yeah, for for for me and my family it’s ah body as say song completeta it’s basic off the shelf. It’s nothing I mean it is magical to me but like it’s like I have to have that if I’m making you know Puerto rican food that that that’s the thing you know.

37:19.87
Chef Kenny
Um, okay, yeah. My wife. Yeah, my wife is a Mexicanamerican and so like I have all the bedea spices and Facebook everything. Yeah, you have to? yeah I’m like yeah.

37:33.80
vigorbranding
Yeah, yeah, they have to um, it’s sacrilege if you don’t you’ll be in the dog house I promise um we we did just have um, a horrible tragedy happen this year in my family every year. My cousins and if I’m back in Pennsylvania I participate but my cousins have a competition for what’s called Coquito so coquito is a Puerto rican holiday drink. It’s basically coconut eggnog but there’s many different recipes yada yada and so they do.

38:04.73
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah.

38:10.23
vigorbranding
Every individual brings their coquito. They put it out and they do blind taste testing they like you don’t know who’s it is and and then you vote well this year the newest addition to our family. My cousin’s wife um she won but she’s guatemalan.

38:13.67
Chef Kenny
Oh I’ll.

38:26.10
Chef Kenny
Ah.

38:28.21
vigorbranding
So this is a problem because you’re you’re not even Puerto rican and and you just showed up and and dropped the hammer on us. So I think next Christmas there’s ah, there’s a storm of brewing that we have to reclaim.

38:34.81
Chef Kenny
For while.

38:43.42
vigorbranding
You know in the name of the family of course. So but um, anyway, 2 2 last questions. Um one is I like to do a final meal like if it’s your final meal on earth and I do want to do that one but I think before that.

38:43.75
Chef Kenny
Um, most of that’s funny. That’s funny.

39:02.11
vigorbranding
I Would love to know what is your favorite kind of fried chicken and what is the champagne that you prefer to go with it or sparkling.

39:10.83
Chef Kenny
Yeah, you know, um, of course I Love my Fri Chicken. You know it’s the way that we brine it. Um, the seizing combinations is is Juicy. It’s flavorful. Um, you know is great is is I think is is amazing I Love eating other people’s fried chicken just to see their perspective and what they like like about it just so I can have ah an idea. Um, but like I like spicy So I like a good hot chicken but I like a classic you know. Like old school Southern Fried chicken but I love all the different types of cultures too like you know the way that they do a fried chicken. So like it kind of depends on what um of the mood I’m in based on what the culture that I’m looking to enjoy whether it’s the or you know iron or something like that.

39:57.74
vigorbranding
Okay.

40:02.74
Chef Kenny
Um, but if it is a personal preference. You know, classic southern fried chicken I like ah I like it spicy so there’s you know more? you know spices that that add heat. Um I I enjoy that and in terms of bubbles. Um, you know i. I drink a lot of different. Um you know sparklings and champagnes and whatnot. You know, probably Don Perion and piper heaac vlaco um I love brutes um, and love roses brute roses. Um.

40:23.59
vigorbranding
See.

40:33.23
vigorbranding
Fall faith.

40:38.85
Chef Kenny
So like any any good bubbles like like high quality champagne I really enjoy. Um, you know like I said Don Perion Blueclico ah you know piper heaac. Um, you know I love I love all those you know? yeah for sure.

40:54.53
vigorbranding
Yeah, that’s great. So um I forgot that I mentioned that we’d come back to this but before we close this up hot takes on Popeye’s fried chicken sandwich man.

40:58.39
Chef Kenny
Um.

41:07.13
Chef Kenny
I haven’t had it.

41:12.12
vigorbranding
I didn’t have it either I was kind of adverse because of all the hype and I was driving down to visit my wife who was ah working on a production in New Orleans and Popeyes was the only option I was alone in the car except for my dog and we’re just sitting there I opened it up skeptical as all hell because it’s fast food right? I mean look. There’s a time of place and I’m not knocking it I took a bite and I think I literally out loud to myself said shit it. It was good. It was so good. Um.

41:40.28
Chef Kenny
Or flight there. They they got they they got great fried chicken I mean that for their concept I if I have I plan on going to eat fried chicken somewhere light and it’s fast or whatever I’m making a a beeline to to Popeyes you mean you know so you know for sure. But.

41:53.78
vigorbranding
All right? That’s huge. Yeah.

41:59.88
Chef Kenny
You know I don’t eat fried chicken like that either you know, like um, you know like our chicken and biscuits are like amazing. You know whether it’s our boneless breasts or our bonenus skin or our bonenus skinless Thigh that’s smoky. Um, you know we would jerk Chicken thigh.

42:00.34
vigorbranding
Yet.

42:19.61
Chef Kenny
Ah, we were roasted chicken salad. We did garlic chicken all different with the different biscuit combinations we have I think you know it’s really unmatched out there I think it’s ah it’s They’re very unique. You can you can come in and get a classic just fried chicken breast with a buttermilt biscuit with some cane surup butter. Um.

42:36.54
vigorbranding
Eight eight

42:39.50
Chef Kenny
Or you can go into the route of our flavor. Bomb you know, smoky fried thigh and trufflemo guta ah biscuits with chis is tossing our flavor bomb sauce. That’s the one we do for Oprah Winfrey um is is a sweet heat that’s amazing. We add hot we had we had caribbean we at korean.

42:49.72
vigorbranding
Oh man.

42:59.10
Chef Kenny
So we we basically hit all different cultures. So that basically whatever your vibe is if you’re like man I want I really want some asian flavors and then you’re able to try the the korean which is tossing the goji chang honey with Benny seeds and there’s kimchi watermill on rine.

43:06.19
vigorbranding
E.

43:13.56
vigorbranding
Oh wow.

43:15.54
Chef Kenny
As a ah is like it’s the pickle that compliments it I mean it’s this. They’re all very well themed. It’s not just ah, let me just do this one biscuit and put a bunch of to the chicken on it. It’s like their match that like we have one is a chicken tika Biscuit I literally have these Indian spices that we put into our dredge.

43:22.25
vigorbranding
Right.

43:28.54
vigorbranding
M.

43:34.71
Chef Kenny
We we do a breast when it comes out is ah is fresh cucumber. We do a um, a lot of fresh cilantro or a little riatta. Um, and there’s a chicken teakaasala sauce that’s over it. So ah, they get this in is on a biscuit that has these Indian spices and the biscuit as well. So when you take a bite.

43:50.17
vigorbranding
Oh nice.

43:53.91
Chef Kenny
Is all things of like the best chicken tika masala you’ve ever had in your life that actually is a biscuit chicken and biscuit. Yeah.

44:02.20
vigorbranding
That’s amazing. So I think maybe the most important question I have is when are you coming to Atlanta. Yeah.

44:05.65
Chef Kenny
Ah, you know what? Ah the the goal would be to I need to be able to get this concept where is totally dialed in. You know, get some people to come in that did check it out. I would love to be able to open in Atlanta I think we could open in Atlanta and have like a pretty nice sized spot that everyone goes to that one location and it would just be huge booming and to have expand the bar because we better have full liquor have a slightly larger space. You know, probably like something like you know, 25300 seats.

44:26.24
vigorbranding
Yep.

44:37.36
Chef Kenny
Ah, really have like kind of like your you know theme where you can kind of almost have white brunch every day and um and have these options and the girl’s nights out and shamping cocktails and having sitting areas with you know for you know so social media you take pictures and stuff like that like.

44:37.63
vigorbranding
Yep.

44:52.86
vigorbranding
Just right.

44:55.27
Chef Kenny
I would love to be able to open up some like like that. Um in Atlanta because I think then everyone around the country would come to it. You know I wouldn’t want I wouldn’t want to open them to every city I want to be to open up like literally in ah in a major city that basically we I know will support it.

45:00.17
vigorbranding
Absolutely.

45:08.34
vigorbranding
Yeah, Atlanta Atlanta definitely would. We’d love to have you not not to be an advocate or salesperson for the city. But I don’t know when I’m getting to Jacksonville any time soon. So and and you have my mouth watering. So.

45:18.80
Chef Kenny
Um, yeah, yeah.

45:23.69
vigorbranding
Kenny thank you so much for your time. Thanks for sharing everything that you shared keep up the amazing work and I do hope I get to experience it sometime soon.

45:30.30
Chef Kenny
Awesome! Thank you very much.

 

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