Chef Viet Pham Is Working On A Barbecue Restaurant. Here's What We Know - Exclusive

Outside of his TV appearances on Food Network culinary competitions — you may have recently seen him on "Guy Fieri's Tournament of Champions" — Viet Pham is known for one thing, and that's Nashville hot chicken. After a career in fine dining, the San Francisco-trained chef channeled his skills and techniques into creating some of the tastiest and crispiest spicy chicken sandwiches — a familiar and comforting Southern classic elevated by "the principles of fine dining," as Pham described.

Chef Pham shared all the ins and outs of what makes his hot chicken — which you can get your hands on at his Salt Lake City restaurant Pretty Bird Hot Chicken — so craveable, as well as his plans to expand the brand to feed fans across the country. However, he doesn't plan to stop there. Inspired by his fast casual success with Pretty Bird, Pham is looking to apply his culinary skills to another widely beloved quick-service cuisine: barbecue.

In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Chef Viet Pham detailed the idea for his next fast casual concept, influenced by his childhood growing up in Illinois, and his love of taking food for the people to the next level.

From spicy chicken to smoked meats

With his Nashville hot chicken recipe on lock and garnering him national attention, Viet Pham has his sights set on his next pretty exciting restaurant idea. "I'm working on another concept called Pretty Q," he told Tasting Table. While it started out as plans for a classic barbecue joint with all the cuts and fixings, the concept has evolved to focus specifically on smoked meat sandwiches.

But rather than being influenced by a famous pitmaster, Pham said he was particularly inspired by a famous chain from his childhood: "Growing up in Illinois, one of my favorite things to eat every Friday with my family was Portillo's." If you're from the Midwest, you might be familiar with the regional chain, famous for its local specialties, including Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. It was memories of the latter that got Chef Pham's culinary juices flowing. "I thought, 'What if I do something similar to Portillo's? I could do pork, turkey, beef, but smoke it,'" he said.

While the recipe comes together, Chef Pham said right now it's all about sorting the logistics and timing. "I was looking for spaces earlier last year," he noted, but he added that he "decided to hold off this past fall ... to see how this economy rides out in the next six or eight months, but that's the next project."

Learn more about Chef Viet Pham's restaurant, Pretty Bird Hot Chickenand keep up with the latest from him on Instagram.