• Publican Farm Chicken


The Publican’s Signature Dish

By Paul Kahan and Brian Huston

The James Beard Foundation Award nominees are announced today, so we asked last year’s recipient of the Outstanding Chef award, Paul Kahan, to share one of his favorite recipes. From modernist fine dining to a beer-focused gastropub, chef Paul Kahan’s multifaceted restaurant empire is a driving force behind Chicago’s booming food scene. Check out the James Beard Foundation for the 2014 nominees.

Publican Farm Chicken

Servings: 2 to 4


  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), backbone removed
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus a squeeze at the end
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon espelette pepper
  • 1 fresno chili
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


The night before, place the chicken on a plate, season top and bottom with the 2 teaspoons salt, cover with plastic and refrigerate.

At least four hours before cooking, combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl.

Add chicken, toss to coat and store in fridge until ready to cook.

Heat charcoals on one side of the grill only (or light half of a gas grill). Grill the chicken skin-side down over indirect heat (away from the coals), covered.

Baste the chicken every five minutes with the marinade for about 30 minutes or until juices run clear when you cut into the chicken.

Remove from grill and let rest five minutes. Carve with a sharp boning knife into eight pieces. Squeeze with lemon and serve.

Photograph by Marc Hauser.

About James Beard Award-Winning Chef Paul Kahan:

Executive Chef/Partner Paul Kahan has become the nationally recognizable face of Chicago chefs. Passionately seasonal, unconventionally creative and dedicated to the inspiration of classical cuisine, Kahan has received international acclaim for Blackbird, avec, The Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats and most recently Nico Osteria. Awarded Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2013 and Best Chef of the Midwest in 2004, Kahan has earned the praise of many who claim him to be one of America’s most influential working chefs. 

A Chicagoan through and through, Kahan grew up around food. His father owned a delicatessen and a smokehouse, and “when I wanted to make a buck,” says Kahan. “I would help my dad take the fish out of the brine, hang them on the racks and wheel them into the smokehouse.” 

After a brief post-college stint as a computer scientist, Kahan took a job in the kitchen of Erwin Drechsler’s Metropolis. It was in Dreschler’s kitchen where Kahan realized his true calling. Over the course of 15 years at Metropolis and Erwin, Kahan developed relationships with Midwestern farmers—leaving a permanent mark on his culinary outlook. He further honed his craft at Topolobampo under the tutelage of the award-winning chef Rick Bayless.

In 1999, shortly after Blackbird opened, Food & Wine placed Kahan on their Best New Chefs list, recognizing his highly individual approach to cooking and the talent that Chicago diners have celebrated for years.  Despite accolades and adoration, Kahan’s biggest accomplishment remains his work as a mentor for young chefs. As Kahan puts it, “I have won my awards, what I love is cooking and teaching. If somebody has a great creative vision or a great mind for food, I want to learn from them.” He works to foster empowerment, providing the resources necessary to grow, both as a chef and person.

Kahan is an ardent supporter of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for pediatric cancer research, as well as Pilot Light, an organization dedicated to enhancing school children’s perception of food through hands-on education. Paul Kahan is a devoted husband to his wife Mary, an ardent music lover and bike aficionado.

Photograph by Derek Richmond.

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