Try Yardbird's chicken from 100-year-old recipe at Epicurean Market

Yardbird's Llewellyn's Fried Chicken with watermelon cubes, cheddar cheese waffle and bourbon maple syrup.
Yardbird's Llewellyn's Fried Chicken with watermelon cubes, cheddar cheese waffle and bourbon maple syrup.PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

American restaurant Yardbird's signature fried chicken is one of many offerings at this year's Epicurean Market

Fried chicken lovers can get their fix at this year's Epicurean Market, an annual gastronomic festival organised by Marina Bay Sands (MBS).

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, which serves Southern food from the United States, is making its debut at the fourth edition of the event, which runs from Aug 12 to 14.

This is a prelude to Yardbird's first outlet in Asia, a 180-seat restaurant that will open in MBS by the first half of next year. It has two outlets in Miami and Las Vegas.

The festival will have more than 75 booths run by celebrity restaurants at the integrated resort, gourmet food purveyors, eateries and spirits companies.

At Yardbird's booth, visitors can tuck into the signature fried chicken made from a 100-year-old family recipe. Chicken dishes include Llewellyn's Fried Chicken with chilled spiced watermelon cubes, Vermont sharp cheddar cheese waffle and bourbon maple syrup; and Mini Mama's Chicken Biscuits, fried chicken thigh and pepper jelly sandwiched between buttermilk biscuits.

  • BOOK IT / EPICUREAN MARKET

  • WHERE: Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Level 1, Halls A, B and C

    WHEN: Aug 12 & 13, noon to 10pm (After Party is from 10pm to 2am); Aug 14, noon to 9pm

    ADMISSION: $35 (three-day pass, includes entry to the After Party on Aug 12 and 13 and a pair of Schott Zwiesel champagne flutes), food prices start at $3

    INFO: Call 6688-8826 or go to www.marinabaysands.com/epicurean-market/about.html

There will also be Southern staples such as Fried Green Tomato BLT, a sandwich made with house-smoked brined pork belly, Pimento cheese and smoky tomato jam; and Deviled Eggs loaded with smoked trout roe, dill and chives.

Armed with his grandmother's fried chicken recipe, Yardbird founder John Kunkel opened the first restaurant in Miami in 2011. The Las Vegas outlet opened last year.

In a telephone interview from Miami, Mr Kunkel, 45, says he is expanding to Asia as diners' perennial love for fried chicken transcends cultures.

"Everybody can identify with fried chicken. It is represented in cuisines from India to Japan to Thailand, so we think our food is approachable to diners in Singapore, who have a palate for flavours around the world."

His Las Vegas outlet sells more than 1,200kg of pressure-fried chicken a week.

On what makes his grandmother's recipe special, Mr Kunkel says: "My family has come up with a perfect recipe that balances moisture, spiciness, saltiness and sweetness in a brine that the chicken is kept in for 27 hours before it is coated in a special mix of flour seasoned with cayenne pepper and paprika."

For the Singapore outpost, he reveals that at least 30 per cent of the menu will comprise new dishes that "reflect regional ingredients".

The outlet will have a "connoisseurs' room" that serves more than 100 types of tipples, including a Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey, and cocktails.

Mr Kunkel, who will be based here for several months to train the staff, expects diners to spend about $60 to $67 a person with drinks.

To keep up with the competitive food scene here, he plans to engage diners with regular guest chef collaborations and talks by alcohol producers in the restaurant.

Also new at this year's Epicurean Market is a masterclass segment, Sands Signature Series, that is led by wine and spirits experts, as well as previews of food from North, a Chinese restaurant, and Golden Peacock, a one-Michelin-starred Indian restaurant.

Both restaurants are in MBS' sister property, The Venetian Macao Resort and Hotel in Macau.

Injecting greater food variety in the festival, North will serve Sichuan and north-eastern Chinese dishes such as Poached Farm Chicken and Shrimp in Chinese Yellow Wine and Grilled Lamb Skewers with Chilli and Cumin.

For Golden Peacock, chef Justin Paul will serve dishes such as Jhinga Avocado Raj Chaat with prawns and tamarind chutney; and Makhmali Galouti Kebab, lamb with mace, pomegranate and garlic yogurt.

The Sands Signature Series will hold more than 15 ticketed workshops compared with only three last year.

They will centre on highly sought-after or rare labels such as Australia's Penfolds Grange wines and Canada's Inniskillin Ice Wine. Limited to 40 participants a session and starting from $25 a person, the workshops will allow participants to taste the tipples and get up close with industry leaders.

There will also be more than 30 free workshops - from cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, such as Tetsuya Wakuda of the one-Michelin-starred Waku Ghin and David Thompson of Thai restaurant Long Chim, to beer and tea appreciation sessions.

On expanding the number of masterclasses this year, Mr Sean Newman, 48, MBS' executive director of food and beverage, explains that the integrated resort was encouraged by the sold-out response to the three paid masterclasses last year.

He says: "Besides shopping and eating, people want a well-rounded experience of getting exclusive insights into how spirits are made and what goes on in a restaurant."

Visitors can also get tipple-happy at EC Proof, a newly launched retail arm of spirits distribution company Proof & Company, which runs bars such as 28 HongKong Street. Its booth will sell about 250 spirits, including Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum from Plantation Rum and the Willett Family Estate line of bourbon and rye whiskies.

It will also sell home bar kits, bar tools such as mixing glasses and shakers, and cocktail recipe books. Visitors can also get tips from its bartenders on making cocktails at home.

Other highlights include a bumped-up farmers' market, which will stock about 30 to 35 varieties of in-season vegetables and fruits imported from farms around the world.

Exotic produce include red-hued Sockeye salmon and Campari tomatoes from Okanagan Valley Market in British Columbia, Canada, as well as Ojai Pixie tangerines, Vidalia Onions and Crenshaw melons from Los Angeles Specialty Market. New stalls in the farmers' market include Mozza, which is selling pasta, spice rubs and sauces, and Junshin Sushi.

Epicurean Market attracted about 15,000 visitors last year and MBS expects a similar turnout this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2016, with the headline 'Try chicken from 100-year-old recipe'. Print Edition | Subscribe