Popeyes settles in Paris. Not a spinach restaurant, no, but a fried chicken specialist straight out of Louisiana. On the menu, the iconic Chicken Sandwich, launched in August 2019 in the US. His recipe—chicken marinated for twelve hours in a secret blend of garlic, onion, and Cajun spices before being breaded by hand— 20 minutes was invited to make it early in the morning, a few days before the official opening of its first French address, on February 1st at 11 o’clock opposite the Gare du Nord in Paris.
Popeyes, where does it come from? Originally it was a restaurant created in 1972 by Alvin Copeland Sr. in tribute to the character Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in French connection, success for the cinema of the time. His specialty: spicy chicken with Creole and Cajun notes, would be rejected as desired and served five decades later in more than 3,900 restaurants around the world.
Recipes adapted to French taste
In France, it is the young chef Laura Zani who has been in charge of working with the recipes to bring them back to the taste of our compatriots. “They are less salty, less sweet and less greasy to the touch,” she says. The brioche bun is a French exclusive, just like the Caesar salad or the grilled chicken. On the other hand, we kept the same twelve-hour marinade that gives the chicken its juicy side, and the cooking technique that gives it its crispness. »
Even if we try to pull the worms out of Chef Peter’s nose, guarantor of Popeye’s taste, we will not know anything about the compositions. We just learned that we should roll the chicken fillets twice in flour, as the video shows: Once before and once after being dipped in a sauce that we imagine is made of eggs and fermented milk. Not so bad…
Table service in reusable dishes
We do not yet know the prices of the sandwiches, which will only be revealed at the very last minute. But we know that this international brand (whose Canadian owner, RBI, also owns Burger King) will only use “100% French” ingredients here – cantal instead of cheddar, for example, and that for vegetarians the brand is betting on a burger made from red beans. For a more pleasant welcome, “the trays will be served at the table in reusable dishes”, assures the French chef Xavier Expilly. Fast food obliges, we still want to eat without cutlery, just to be able to “fill our fingers”, as we say at 20 minutes. And since we like it, the brand intends to quickly establish itself in France. After Paris and soon Marseille and then Lyon, a hundred addresses are expected during the year and, if all goes well, another two hundred by 2030. That’s about as many as KFC, its biggest competitor.