The Story Behind Pretty Bird's Bougie Champagne And Chicken Combo - Exclusive

There are many things that come to mind when you think of Nashville hot chicken: greasy red fingers covered in spicy dust, the perspiration that builds when you combine intense chili pepper heat with a hot Nashville summer day; the sweet relief of comeback sauce and juicy pickles to complement all that flavor; ice water or perhaps a cold beer to wash it all down. What may not come to mind, however, is pairing this messy and meaty fare with a dainty, luxurious glass of bubbly, let alone an extravagant bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne.

But it's exactly what you can expect when a fine dining chef, well-versed in the world of upscale culinary tradition, decides to appeal to the masses with a hot chicken restaurant that's already taken part of the country by storm. We're talking about chef Viet Pham and his Salt Lake City sensation, Pretty Bird Chicken. Here you'll find Nashville-inspired hot chicken offerings unlike any other, made with Pham's own secret spice blend and a signature sauce that outshines comeback sauce any day. Guests can dig into sandwiches, tenders, and chef-crafted side dishes — and if they so choose, they can give their meal a major upgrade by ordering a bottle of Dom Pérignon to go with it.

How did this come about, and what do customers think about such a bold and bougie pairing for their down-home fried chicken? We got all the details from the chef himself. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, chef Pham shared the story of what inspired this champagne and hot chicken combo and how it ended up on the Pretty Bird Chicken menu.

Fine dining meets fast casual with Dom P and Pretty B

While champagne and hot chicken are admittedly an unlikely duo, Viet Pham says the pairing was born out of his desire to represent his fine dining background in his fast casual venture. "I always knew that I wanted to do something over the top," he told Tasting Table. Actually, Pham admitted that champagne wasn't the first choice for his upscale menu offering. "One of the items that we wanted was caviar," but logistical factors forced him to pivot his plans. "In this market, no one's going to want to shell out a hundred bucks for 30 grams of caviar," he said. On top of that, he pointed out that "caviar isn't very shelf stable."

Pham and his team decided, "The next best thing is to pair with champagne." They may not be considered in the same culinary class, but Pham would argue that flavor-wise, they make a delicious and dynamic duo: "Subtly spiced fried chicken and champagne go really well together." Dom Pérignon was the obvious choice thanks to its pop culture relevance (how many rap songs are coming to mind that mention the iconic bottle?). And Pham said it was his wife who really helped seal the deal. "My wife goes, 'We should call it the Dom P and the Pretty B,'" said Pham. It rhymes, it rolls off the tongue, and it just sounds fun, "so that's how it came to be."

Pham insisted that you'd be surprised at how popular this combo is. "Believe it or not, we actually sell a lot of it." And at around $250 for a bottle of bubbly plus two chicken combo meals, it might just be the best deal you're ever going to find for a bottle of Dom Pérignon. "We don't mark it up at all ... you're buying the Dom P at cost basically," noted Pham, and a peek at Total Wine confirms as much, with a bottle currently retailing for about $275.

Click here to learn more about Pretty Bird Chicken, and keep up with the latest from C+chef Viet Pham on Instagram.