For Nashvillians Who Keep Kosher, A Hot Chicken Festival With A Twist | Nashville Public Radio

For Nashvillians Who Keep Kosher, A Hot Chicken Festival With A Twist

Nov 9, 2015

The hot chicken tradition of Nashville was served with a cultural twist this weekend. The Jewish Community Center hosted the first Kosher Hot Chicken Festival, geared toward Jews whose religious dietary restrictions prevent them from eating standard meat. 

Festival-goers ate with Klezmer music playing in the background and with a dietary supervisor nearby, called a mashgiach, to oversee the process and make sure all ingredients were Kosher.

Kosher chicken has to be slaughtered in a particular way, as dictated by Jewish law, and under meticulous supervision. Most restaurant meat doesn't conform to these rules. 

Co-organizer Stuart Wiston frequents Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish in East Nashville with a group of friends, but he has only ever been able to order hot fish, much to his disappointment.

"All the other guys who eat chicken tell me how great it is," he said.

Thus, the inspiration for Kosher hot chicken was born. The chicken tenders at this festival were delivered from a Kosher vendor in Atlanta and prepared by Wiston’s favorite chefs: the owners of Bolton’s, including Dolly Ingram Matthews. She stood behind a row of sizzling deep-fryers and prepared plates of hot chicken with white bread and pickles — Kosher, of course.

“It’s pretty exciting for me," she said. "I’m learning a lot. It was interesting learning how other cultures do things.”

She passed Wiston a freshly seasoned tender. He bit into it.

“Wow, that’s good. That’s hot," he said. "I don’t even know how to describe it. I’m about as happy as I can get right now.”

“I’m just as happy as he is," Matthews said, laughing.

"No way you are as happy as I am," Wiston replies. "I've got a good endorphin rush." 

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