“come on over, relax, eat great food and the rest will come.”
Tim and Justin, proud founders of Chicken Bros are both big fans of American food. “Being here is wonderful and there is a lot of great food but there was something missing” they tell me. “I mean, we found knock offs of American food but nothing that really satisfied that itch, you know”.
Trust me, as a French-Brit, who could occasionally do with a marmite, cheddar, dijon mustard and brie baguette, I know.
Wings are one of the most popular food in the States. One could go as far as saying that they are a staple. There are over a billion wings eaten on Super Bowl Sunday. We’re talking massive, massive amounts of wings. In Argentina, chicken wings are just used for caldo (broth). They put them in the pot, boil them and then throw them out. So understandably, these guys missed their wings. Especially when watching football. They struggled to find the bold flavors, something hot enough, crispy enough.
For all non-yanquis, Justin explains what makes wings so indispensable to one’s diet:
“There are a certain number of layers to it. Firstly there is the texture. Then there is the level of moisture on the inside and how crispy it is on the outside. Then you have the sauce. Does the sauce fall off? Or does it stay on there? Does it leave you wanting more or wanting to dunk carrots and celery into it?
It’s an experience. Here the asado brings people together, whether it’s a Sunday, a birthday, a despedida or watching Boca-Rivers. It’s all done around the asado. For us, it’s chicken wings. We get the fries, the wings, the tenders, the popcorn (chicken), all the fixings and we put everything in the middle of the table and get after it.”
Chicken Bros was born after one too many parillas finally pushed Justin and Tim over the edge. By their sixth asado of the week they decided enough was enough and changed their Sunday menu to wings, with the weary approval of the guests. They did a big vote beforehand to see which flavors people wanted because according to Justin, wings are the perfect vessel for showcasing what a basic sauce is.
So they experimented, they chopped, they poured, they mixed and they ended up with red indian curry, buffalo, chicha morada, chipotle, Thai and Asian sauces, all made from scratch.
Their friends were all blown away. It got to 3 in the morning and they’d all had one too many fernets but as we know, that’s when we come up with the best ideas (and get slightly too enthusiastic about them.) This particular idea was a business plan to start selling the tasty goodness everyone had been tearing, licking and munching on all night. So they brainstormed into the early hours of the morning and came up with a name and a concept: getting together, buena onda, good food and no pretention.
“It became Chicken Bros because I mean, we’re not gunna lie, we’re kinda bro-tastic.”
Before launching anything, they needed to see how receptive other people were to new flavors. It’s one thing having your friends tell you you’re the next Francis Mallmann, but it’s only when your recipes have a stranger’s respect that you can seal the deal. Did they want to make food that fit the palate of Argentines or did they want to make it the way its supposed to be and adjust their palate?
“We see it almost as educating people about how a food can actually taste,” Justin tells me. “We’re not saying the food they eat is bad, but we want to open their eyes (and mouths) to other flavors and combinations. We are constantly evolving. We are by no means experts and we are very open to what our customers have to say.”
So they experimented. The process to make the sauces takes them hours of fusioning ingredients from different countries. For the BBQ one, they take the chicha morada, which is from Peru, chipotle from Mexico and the main BBQ ingredients they use are from the United States.
“The challenge for us is how to make the best possible food because there are a lot of ingredients that you can’t find here. For example, ranch. You need buttermilk and sour cream. Butter milk is impossible to find here. Sour cream too. So that means we have to experiment with what we do have: yogurt, cream, etc. Sometimes we manage to get exactly what we want but a lot of flavors are still a work in progress. At the same time it means we can come up with really cool flavors that we hadn’t thought of before.”
In a way, not having all the ingredients is a handicap because it takes time but it also makes the whole thing a lot more “casero” and that’s what makes the difference.
For now, Chicken Bros doesn’t have its own restaurant. The guys are in no rush. What they want is a chicken wing movement. They just want to spread the chicken wing love and see more chicken wings in the city. They want people to enjoy, to get in there with their hands and to get saucy.
“We want to build a culture around wings. the greatest thing to ever happen are wings.”
So they had their first event on 4th July, making all their food from scratch and sold out all their portions with the click of a finger. The bromance tell me that the best part was watching the usually proper and prim group of society ditching the knives and forks to dig into the wings and get saucy. That’s when they realized that they were onto something.
So if there is no restaurant, how can one go about getting their Chicken Bros wings?
They have four arms:
- Firstly they have events, markets and festivals like the Festival Union de Los Pibes or El Petit Mercado.
- Secondly, they have a night at Magdalena’s Party on Mondays. Since many bars are closed on Mondays in Buenos Aires, Chicken Bros took this opportunity to offer something completely new: a place where people can go after a long weekend to chill, eat and watch some American football. They bring all the tables together for everyone to eat their new weekly recipes and enjoy the buena onda with no knives and no forks. Nobody gets their own portion; it’s all about sharing. I suggest you order lots though because I guarantee you will be coming back for more. This has been Chicken Bros’ most successful story so far and they tell me that it’s been amazing to watch the event evolve and become a true reflection of their clientele. They don’t stay in the kitchen anymore. They go out and meet everybody. “We’ve managed to provide people with their Monday night excuse – which is exactly what we wanted” says Tim.
- Thirdly, they have Wednesday nights at Spacemonkey which has a bit more of a party vibe with a contest and lots of energy.
- Fourthly, they do private, express or gourmet catering. The concept is a brilliant extension of the Chicken Bros experience. They come to your house, set the fire up, cater your own private party whether it’s a previa, a birthday or a dinner and cook whatever you want. They experiment, it’s interactive and it sounds like a lot of fun. (AR$1500 for up to 10 people and AR$150 for each extra person.) Then there’s gourmet. Brace yourselves. To give you an idea, they do fried mac and cheese and stuffed wings with sundried tomato and olive pesto, coated with garlic parmesan butter. The idea is to have a several course meal and offer something a bit beyond what they normally do by building the menu with you. (AR$200 upwards per person. They bring a portfolio and customize it to how you want.)
“We love seeing how far we can go with chicken.”
What started with an evening of drinks and good food with friends has flourished into a wonderfully dope project that is constantly evolving. They even cater for corporate events. These guys do it all.
We suggest you go to Magdalena’s Party on a Monday to live the Chicken Bros experience. The tenders and wings are hands down the best in the city and they have nailed all the sauces down to a T. As in, I licked my plate clean. Plus, they add something new every week, whether it’s a new sauce, a new local Argentine beer company, or a new type of sandwich and turn the night into a competition whereby customers take a vote on the selection to decide on what should stay on the menu.
So, if you want to get a preview of the vibes we suggest you check out their Facebook page. It gives a pretty accurate reflection of what Chicken Bros is all about: good times and good food.
“at the end of the day, for us it’s about the onda and having a good time. Chicken is just a good excuse for us to provide that.”
See you at Maggie’s next Monday! It is quite literally the best finger licking goodness in Buenos Aires.
*Please note that neither The Bubble nor the author of this article is in any way receiving payment for this endorsement. All information being presented comes from a genuine love of Chicken Bros tenders and more particularly the buttermilk ranch and soy sesame ginger sauce.