"Everybody and their sous-chef has tried to copy my chicken, and I'm very happy about that," Waxman says. "All chefs steal. We're plagiarists at heart, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?"
Michael Schwartz, chef and owner of a family of restaurants in Miami and the Cayman Islands, "flatters" Waxman every Thursday at his Midtown spot, Harry's Pizzeria, which features the chicken as a weekly special.
Photos: Courtesy of Michael Schwartz and Jonathan Waxman
The seeds for the tribute were planted two years ago, when Waxman paid a visit to Miami. "He came and did a pop-up at Harry's Pizzeria—one of the first ones we hosted," Schwartz says. "We encourage chefs to build the menu around our wood-burning oven, but Jonathan didn't need any encouragement. In fact, every dish came out of that oven. We have pictures of it practically exploding with whole fish, that chicken and more."
Schwartz was looking to add a chicken dish to the rotation at his newly opened pizzeria, and the timing was spot-on. "When we hosted [Waxman], and we had that chicken, I knew we'd found our dish."
Schwartz made a few tweaks to reflect his own sensibilities (see the recipe). "We start with a good all-natural bird, of course," he says. "The salsa verde is a little rustic with the addition of oregano. And we serve it with something fresh and crisp, for a contrast in texture, temperature and color—in this case, it's shaved fennel and oranges." Still, the plate would be familiar to anyone who's eaten at Barbuto.
Waxman is more than happy to see his dish in Schwartz's hands. "I'm so happy that Michael's doing it, and not someone that doesn't know me, doesn't understand me or hasn't take the time to study it. Michael, he gets it."