Despite mounting evidence and plenty of expert advice to the contrary, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) have always seemed to be as worthless as a one-legged person at an ass-kicking contest, at least to your humble narrator, who also doesn’t understand bitcoin, dogecoin or compound interest.
That, of course, was before there were any NFTs involving something that is always worthwhile: fried chicken.
The fried chicken in question belongs to award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson, and the corresponding NFT is a digital file holding the recipe for his signature Fried Yardbird dish.
With proceeds benefiting the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant Relief Efforts, Samuelsson and Stella Artois are teaming up to auction off the Fried Yardbird NFT with Christie’s via Charitybuzz as part of a package that also includes a one-off video of Samuelsson revealing all his tips, tricks and rituals for preparing perfect fried chicken, plus a private dinner for two prepared by Samuelsson himself at his famed Harlem eatery Red Rooster.
“I have not bid on an NFT myself, but I follow a lot of artists that are in this space right now. It’s a space that I’ve been very excited about and interested in. Anything that is artistic and new excites me,” Samuelsson tells InsideHook. “So I was like, ‘All right, there’s a new way for artists to meet and a new space for art lovers to follow artists and purchase from those artists.’ I thought that was exciting, you know? Stella has also been an incredible partner to us and the restaurant industry as a whole during the most challenging times. So, this was something that I was curious about. Since it is cooking, it is an experience you can participate in and now own. You can participate in the auction, have the dinner and then make the dinner yourself. You can enter it through many different channels. I don’t think it’s the last recipe I’ll do as an NFT.”
While they’re difficult to understand for many, NFT’s seem logical to Samuelsson.
“We are a bunch of creatives and art is a major pillar of what Red Rooster is,” he says. “I look at NFTs as being as fascinating as when graffiti and street art merged into the art world. Everything we do today in pop culture or ads or art, in general, has a street connectivity you really can link back to street art and what happened in the ’70s and the ’80s in many ways. I think NFTs kind of fit that next dialogue of digital conversation following artists and following buyers. It’s just opening up a space. If you think about the impact YouTube and digital experiences have had on us over the last 15 years, it makes sense. It’s the next great conversation we can all participate in.”
And since we’re on the topic of fried chicken, I ask him what he looks for in a perfect piece of prepared poultry?
“I want it to be juicy inside and crispy on the outside. Those two contrasts are key to me,” he says. Just think about the opposite: dry on the inside and soggy on the outside. That’s just not a delicious bite anymore. You also want a little bit of that spice blend. When you’re done eating, that’s what’s going to be left on your lip. You want to be like, ‘Damn that was good.’ That’s going to take it from being just good to crave-able.”
Samuelsson cites Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville and Charles’ Pan Fried Chicken in Harlem as two of the chicken joints that influenced his recipe, but he’s waiting for the NFT auction to close to reveal exactly what gives the Fried Yardbird its signature spice.
“A recipe is a way to either broadcast or document a process. It could also be a ritual,” he says. “There are choices: dark meat or white meat, bone-in or bone-out, skin on or skin off, double-fried, or fried-fried. All the choices make are part of ritual and important to document. Our fried chicken recipe is probably version No. 62. You make it once and then there’s version No. 2, then version No. 3 and version … you know what I mean? There are so many different ways from aspects of purchasing to finish. This one is unique because it has a couple of different spices and steps to it. It’s a creative process and this was a fun way to express it for a cause and partners we really appreciate.”
Head to Charitybuzz where the auction is now live and open for bidding until July 16th at 5 pm EST.
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