Jonathan Waxman Is So Over Farm Chickens

Waxman: more than one way to pluck a chicken.
Waxman: more than one way to pluck a chicken. Photo: Getty Images

Jonathan Waxman can be said to have risen to stardom on the wings of chickens, and his culinary familiar has not abandoned him yet. Barbuto, the chef’s New York restaurant, received a one-star review from Frank Bruni this week, and, as at his eighties star vehicle, Jams, the chicken was the center of attention. We talked to him about poultry, serving Bell & Evans chicken, and just how much poulet de bresse costs.

You’re using regular Bell & Evans chicken at Barbuto? Like they sell at the supermarket?
We did a taste test. I had a farm in Quebec doing it, but the price was going up, and it was too far away, and you know what? I liked the Bell & Evans better.

What ever happened to the famous chicken you served at Jams? That was supposed to be one of the all-time great chickens. Why aren’t you serving that anymore?
It’s really a question of price. The guy who raised the chickens for Jams, Paul Kaiser, raised those chickens like they were his children. They were hand cared for. That kind of chicken is very expensive.

Is that why we don’t see the famous chicken breeds, like the French poulet de bresse, here?
Do you know how much the poulet de bresse costs, even in France? Go buy one. It’s a buttload of money.

But isn’t it worth it?
No. Bell & Evans chicken is really good. What’s the difference between a Mercedes and a Ford now? Does the Mercedes really ride that much better? Or handle better? If you’re blindfolded, you probably can’t tell the difference. Bell & Evans is not only priced in a way that allows me to serve it at the restaurant, but they’re reliable, they’re all the same size, and, when they’re cooked right, you can tell how good they are. I don’t even brine them! Go eat at Barbuto, and you’ll see.

Jonathan Waxman Is So Over Farm Chickens