O’Kelley Reflects on Frying Thighs for 500 Hungry SFA Attendees

sarahokelley

Southern Foodways Alliance

For a fried chicken supper at this past weekend’s Southern Foodways Alliance’s 16th annual symposium, organizers divvied up the most popular parts of the bird amongst cooks representing three of the region’s most iconic skillet-borne chickens. Sarah O’Kelley of The Glass Onion drew thighs.

“(Director) John T (Edge) said ‘you won the chicken lottery’,” recalls O’Kelley, who spent more than six hours in an Oxford, Miss. restaurant kitchen frying up 500 dark meat segments.

For the meal celebrating the program’s theme of “Women at Work,” O’Kelley was invited to prepare fried chicken in homage to Martha Lou Gasden’s rendition of the dish. Her chicken compatriots in the service tent, where symposium-goers clutching illustrated cardboard buckets thronged the tables, were Andre Prince Jeffries of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville and Kerry Seaton-Stewart of Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans.

“I definitely felt a little bit of pressure,” O’Kelley says. “We do a great job with chicken, but we make it once a week. They do chicken all day, every day.” Continue reading