Celebrity Chef Richard Blais is a busy man, but I was able to catch up with him about his popular chicken eatery, The Crack Shack. What began as a restaurant in Little Italy San Diego, is now expanding to the beach city of Encinitas in North County. “It is food you crave,” Blais says. “Fried chicken and eggs made with ingredients that a Michelin star restaurant would use; Jidori chicken, local produce, Bread & Cie, and many other southern California farms and purveyors.”
Blais told me that his original location was literally a miniature metal shack before he turned it into a restaurant with an awesome outdoor ambiance. “Not enough restaurants in San Diego take advantage of the fact that we’re in San Diego,” he explains. “The Crack Shack is somewhere beautiful and fun, where you actually want to go hang out with your friends, as compared to other fast-casual concepts. People often stay for hours playing Bocce or having cocktails by the fire pit.”
Blais sources ingredients from Specialty Produce, Jidori for his chicken, and local farms for fresh eggs. He keeps an eye on his menu, responding to customers and seasonal changes as often as he needs to, which so far has been once a quarter. “Our focus is on finding the absolute best, local ingredients we can buy,” he says.
With so many delicious foods to try, you might be wondering what to order at The Crack Shack. Blais says favorite item on the menu is the Senor Croque, one of their most popular sandwiches. “It really captures the intersection of chicken and eggs. Plus, the miso maple butter is a must.” Blais also recommends the Chicken Oysters, which he says are a very underutilized part of the chicken, that not too many people are familiar with. “They are the dark, tender pieces on the back of the chicken, with an oyster-like taste and size.”
As for expansion plans, The Crack Shack is open in Little Italy at 2266 Kettner Blvd., and their Encinitas location is set to open at 407 Encinitas Blvd on February 13th. “After that, we have plans for a Costa Mesa store,” says Blais. “We’re focused on quality over quantity, and looking for the best fit for the shack.”
©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana