It was thanks to his barber saying he wished he could find fried chicken that was crispy on the outside, yet still juicy and tender on the inside that set Jayden Smith, a Christchurch chef, on the road to establishing Empire Chicken.
“I spent six months obsessing about it and trialled so many recipes that I drove my wife, Monique, crazy because we were eating chicken virtually every meal!” Jayden laughs. But Jayden’s commitment to his quest paid off, as in 2018, with help from a Kickstarter campaign, Jayden launched his food-truck and has never looked back.
His business motto is Local, Happy, Sustainable, Delicious and Jayden explains why that’s important to him. “We’re about supporting local, wherever possible – our buttermilk’s from Karikaas in Rangiora; our ice-cream from Nelson’s Appleby Farms; our cheese from Whitestone Cheese, Oamaru, and our brioche buns are from Breads of Europe in Christchurch. Our birds are local, cage-free and happy, our packaging’s biodegradable, compostable and recyclable, and our food speaks for itself.”
Jayden’s food truck operates from 98 Oxford Terrace, Wednesday to Friday, 12-3pm and 5-9pm, plus Saturday 5-9pm. Empire devotees can also find them at the New Brighton Markets on Saturdays, 10-2pm. With their bricks and mortar operation opening at 98 Oxford Terrace in June, Jayden already has an eye to the future. “I want to grow this business – franchise options are already out there – and a fully licensed restaurant is definitely somewhere in my five-year plan.”