If you watch Top Chef, you know Richard Blais. He’s an ex-winner who appears often as a guest judge. In fact, the man does so much TV it’s easy to forget that he’s a chef, first and foremost. This month Blais is reminding people of his first love — opening The Crack Shack‘s inaugural LA location, at the Westfield Century City Mall on July 21, 2018.
The fast-casual eatery comes complete with the city’s first Moët & Chandon vending machine, to pair with its highly accessible menu of chicken sandwiches, deviled eggs, poutine, biscuits and other “lil cluckers.”
As Blais prepped for the launch, we dropped by to sample the menu — most notably the Los Angeles-exclusive ‘Double Clucker’ — made of two ground chicken patties, cheddar, bacon, avocado, burger sauce, pickles, and fried onions in a soft potato roll. It’s one part chicken sandwich, one part burger and it’s all good.
Other menu highlights include the Mexican Poutine with schmaltz fries (fried in chicken fat), pico de gallo, topped with Jalapeño cheese-wiz and marinated chicken. The fries are soaked in cold water for three days, rendering them crispier. The addition of cilantro is a nice touch and connects The Crack Shack to flavors that West Coasters have become accustomed to. The mini-biscuits are served with a miso-butter, which gives them a nice umami quality. The milkshakes, brought to you by Salt & Straw, are thick and rich — the honey lavender milk-shake, in particular, is very addicting with its bits of biscuit crumbs garnishing the shake. For fans of the underused bits of a chicken, The Crack Shack fries up chicken oysters, very juicy dark meat nuggets that explode with flavor at first crunch.
After gorging ourselves, we sat down with Blais. The chef, with his David Lynch-ian hair and his popularization of liquid nitrogen as a kitchen tool, gives off a mad-scientist vibe, but he was endlessly welcoming as we talked chicken, chemistry, and the future of food.
You’ve said it’s a dream of yours to bring The Crack Shack to LA so what is it about Los Angeles that pairs so well with your menu.
Oh my gosh, well I think really we can filter it all down to one word, and its “fun.” Dynamic and high energy, and cool, and fun. I mean I hate to say it — it sounds really cliché to say that — but if you look around, and especially when the restaurant is filled with people… It’s just got a great, sort of, energy to it and it’s a lot of fun.
I think certainly LA is one of, if not, the funnest city in the US, so it’s a pretty big moment for us. I mean, It’s not lost on us…the fact that LA is such a massive city, and as we’re going through our growth moment, you know. I think although this song says it of New York, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” — for us, that’s sort of about LA.
So this is a pivotal moment for us… And I say that as a native New Yorker.