(picture courtesy of Chick-Fil-A)
Living in Georgia, it’s hard to not know the name Ford Fry. The three-time James Beard Award nominee is über-prolific in Atlanta’s restaurant industry and his reach continues to grow as he branches into other markets, like his (and my) native Houston. But the project that extends his reach the farthest is his recent collaboration with Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A.
Fry spent a year partnering with Chick-Fil-A to create a new side item for their restaurants, and I love that he was up for the challenge of thinking outside of a high-end price range and a sit-down environment. The menu of his upscale Houston restaurant State of Grace may read, “Make Haste with Leisure”, but for most Chick-Fil-A customers it is all about getting taste with haste (ask any working woman or mom you know how many meals she eats in front of her steering wheel). Not surprisingly, Fry didn’t pander to the time- and often budget-conscious consumer–he remained true to the level of ingredients he would have used in any of his eleven restaurants. The resulting “Superfood Side” is a mix of high-nutrition kale, broccolini, dried cherries, walnuts, pecans and almonds dressed up in a maple vinaigrette. The best part is, his muse was the busy woman.
On the Chick-Fil-A end, I am equally impressed. This is a cool collaboration, no doubt, but it is also about evolving the way they do business. For starters, imagine the logistics behind sourcing enough kale and broccolini to feed their restaurants–these are ingredients that have never been widely used in the fast-food industry. And this menu change looks to be part of their long-term strategy. The introduction of this new side is not just a seasonal move–the “Superfood Side” is replacing the cole slaw that has been a Chick-Fil-A menu staple since 1967. And it’s rumored that this won’t be the last menu collaboration with Fry, either.
It’s refreshing to see a chef of this stature and a company of this size collaborating outside of the box (or is it bag?) and really thinking forward. In fact, they are so current that I had to look up what broccolini is.
Apparently, it’s the new kale.
You can read more about this collaboration here, as well as a video of Fry touring Chick-Fil-A kitchens and talking about why he chose the ingredients he did.
Be on the lookout for more creative collaboration profiles in the future!
Editor’s note: Creative collaborations are at the heart of every Summit–especially when they are Southern!–so we are thrilled to have Chick-Fil-A participating and serving this freshly made, farm-to-table side at this year’s Summit in Charleston.