I often wake up hungry because I've been dreaming of food.
I've had a lot of fun food epiphanies and have realized how tasty things can be via dreams. A lot of the ideas—like my fried chicken burrito dream—always seem to be so obvious, too. Why don't people do fried chicken burritos? They're really awesome. I don't dream up my food ideas all the time, but only more recently have I realized how dream imprints can be an inspiration for a chef. It's almost like I'm working in my sleep.
My new restaurant Wes Burger n' More is right in the heart of Mission Street in San Francisco, so there is no point in me trying to do an authentic Mission-style burrito. Thus, my fried chicken burrito is perfect because of my Texan aesthetic in cooking.
I remember waking up that morning shocked and thinking, Holy shit—why isn't anybody doing this? This could be really big. People are always telling me how good my fried chicken is, so why not put that in a burrito? My bread and butter are burgers made with my house blend of brisket, but this burrito will be a hat tip to the this historic neighborhood.
My story, in a nutshell, is that I fell into cooking food for a living after being a food photographer. I was in kitchens all the time. Chefs encouraged me to start a pop-up, and now I am opening up a restaurant. I would say that this has worked as an advantage for me as a cook, because nobody has ever told me what to do when it comes to food. A lot of it is me just coming in and doing it the hard way, learning by fucking up. There is this certain sense of excitement in thinking of how people will enjoy eating your food.
One of the many burgers on offer at WesBurger n' More.
The fried chicken dream didn't include specifics— it just provided the concept for me. I had to figure out how to make it good. Those elements, for me, were Texas-style pinto beans (cooked down with brisket scraps until they're really rich), smoked Mexican-style corn salad, jack cheese, avocado, and salsa. Of course, I wrap it all up in a handmade flour tortilla made with lard. I'm Texan, so there's no reason to go vegetarian all of a sudden now.
I look at fried chicken as an all-encompassing thing. Many people focus on just the brine, or just the breading, or just on the oil you fry it in, but I think it is a balance of all three. As long as you use chicken thighs, that is—I'm a big fan of boneless thighs because I don't like people to have to eat around bones and the mess of dealing with that. I want you to just be able to take a big fucking mouthful of chicken and not worry about what is underneath. Thighs are so tasty and breasts fucking suck.
I think a fried chicken burrito has the potential to be really great food item and not just a kitschy novelty item. This is not stunt food, just a seriously good item that can be on the menu all the time and do really well in this neighborhood.
Just think about it a little.
As told to Javier Cabral
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in June 2014.