The Story Behind … YAFO Kitchen’s Israeli Hot Chicken Sandwich

Charlotte, Nc August 18th Yafo Chicken Sandwich And Mac And Cheese Photographed In Charlotte, Nc On August 18, 2020. Photo By Peter Taylor
PHOTO BY PETER TAYLOR

YAFO Kitchen’s executive chef, Shai Fargian, serves fast-casual Mediterranean street food, like chicken shawarma, falafel, and cauliflower with tahini, all day. One afternoon about five years ago, when the Israeli-born chef was working at the FS Food Group chain’s Central Avenue location, he got hungry. “I was sick of everything on the menu,” he says, “so I walked over to Midwood (Smokehouse) and grabbed a bun and made myself a sandwich with our chicken schnitzel and some red schug (a Yemeni hot sauce).”

It was good, so he offered a taste to Remy Thurston, FS Food Group’s marketing director. “(Remy) said it was like an Israeli hot chicken sandwich,” Fargian says. “As soon as we finished it, I went and made two more.” Farigan made just a few tweaks: He slathered the panko-crusted chicken in spicy red schug and topped it with tzatziki and purple cabbage slaw. Once he found a vendor for the buns, he added the Israeli Hot Chicken Sandwich to the menu.

“This was at the start of the Nashville hot chicken frenzy,” he says. “It became so popular, we never took it off the menu.”

Categories: Food + Drink