• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Fine dining chef pivots to making fried chicken

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Chef Eric Huang spent 10 years cooking in some of New York's most exclusive restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park, which was voted best in the world four years ago.

Video Transcript

- Well, so many people and businesses have had to pivot during the pandemic. Tonight, the story of a gourmet chef in New York City who was found-- who found success in all things fried chicken. It's become so popular, you can order it online, and only if you have the secret code. Here's Eyewitness News reporter Derrick Waller.

ERIC HUANG: People just really want to eat something great and have it conveniently delivered.

DERRICK WALLER: Sounds great. But fried chicken was never the plan for this former fine dining chef. Eric Huang spent the last decade cooking in some of New York's most exclusive restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park, voted best in the world four years ago. He left last January with ill-fated hopes of running his own high-end kitchen.

ERIC HUANG: I was like, I want to be a Michelin star chef, and that's what I worked towards for 10 years. And then, obviously, the pandemic changed everything for everybody.

DERRICK WALLER: And so, with the world shut down, the Queens native returned to his roots, using his uncle's shuttered Fresh Meadows restaurant, Peking House, for a new project called Pecking House. But this is no fast food chicken. Chef Huang combining his Chinese and American heritage for free-range bird that's a mix of Taiwanese technique and Nashville know-how.

ERIC HUANG: We marinate with buttermilk, Chinese five spice, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder. Yeah, and then when it's hot and crispy, we brush a paste of Chinese chili Sichuan pepper corns on top.

DERRICK WALLER: Chef Huang tells me he is now up to cooking 350 pieces of chicken five nights a week. But cooking the food is only half the battle. Then he's got to figure out how to deliver it to people.

Forget DoorDash. Chef Huang prefers to handle his own deliveries.

ERIC HUANG: For the first month and a half or so, I was the only person who was working here. I was doing everything.

DERRICK WALLER: Now, at just five months old, Pecking House employs about 15 people, cooking, packing, and delivering 550 meals a week. With demand surging, the online order page is password protected. Customers have to wait for a secret code in their email.

ERIC HUANG: The wait is about six weeks.

DERRICK WALLER: It's a far cry from a 15 course tasting menu. But the pandemic, as is the case for so many of us, reorganized his priorities.

ERIC HUANG: First and foremost, it's about other people. It's about making other people happy.

DERRICK WALLER: And on that metric, Chef Huang delivers.