Restaurant Hospitality's inaugural Power List this year focuses on restaurant operators who use their businesses to change the world in big and small ways. We call them Change Agents. See the full list >>
Restaurant: Chook Charcoal Chicken, Denver
Change: To grow the poultry farming industry in Colorado in a way that will make local, well-raised chicken more economical
When fine-dining chef Alex Seidel joined forces with Snooze breakfast chain co-founder Adam Schlegel and bar veteran Randy Layman to launch a rotisserie chicken concept in Denver in late 2018, they had trouble finding the key ingredient for their menu.
“I struggled to find poultry systems in Colorado that live up to our expectations of what good chicken is,” said Seidel, who is known for his restaurants Mercantile Dining & Provisions and Fruition. The chef also runs Fruition Farm, which produces sheep’s milk cheese.
So for the new Chook Charcoal Chicken, an Australian-inspired fast-casual concept that debuted Dec. 7, the partners turned to an Amish farm in Indiana that meets the Global Animal Partners, or GAP, animal welfare certification to ensure the meat was raised without antibiotics or hormones, and meets certain standards.
But fundamentally their goal is to make that “good chicken” more available in Colorado, said Schlegel.
“There’s simply a lack of facilities and even poultry farms in Colorado. We don’t have the systems; like there’s no hatchery here, no good processing facility,” he said. “If I’m a small chicken farmer in Colorado, there are laws that limit how many birds I can raise.”
Schlegel said their hope is to fundamentally change the region’s poultry industry.
“Our hope is to really dig in and see if we can work with local farmers to set up farms or even become that farmer,” he said. “We’re going to look at things, like can we work with the legislature to create more opportunities to raise more birds, and ultimately can we create more facilities.
“We need to grow those farms, those ranches, so we can put that real food back into the food system and figure out a way to make it economical so it’s not just in the hands of the wealthy,” said Schlegel.
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