Rotisserie chicken is a supermarket staple, but Saucy Chick Rotisserie is taking the classic dish to new heights with their Mexican and Indian style rotisserie. Meet Marcel Rene Michel and Rhea Patel Michel, husband and wife and founders of Saucy Chick Rotisserie, who turned a pandemic induced job loss into an inspiring virtual kitchen bringing their unique cultural flavors all across Southern California.
Saucy Chick Rotisserie started officially during the COVID-19 pandemic, but its roots go much deeper and have a foundation in parenting, cultural representation, and collaboration. Rhea and Marcel share, “As working parents, we were at times hard pressed to get a healthy-ish meal that we could center and connect around. Between the 3 of us, we have different flavor preferences but something we would all generally agree on was chicken. Around 2018/2019-ish we were mentally toying around with the concept of what does healthy, delicious, and made with heart and representation look like. Hence the idea Saucy Chick Rotisserie came to be (though it was called something different!): scratch-crafted Mexican x Indian rotisserie eats that are approachable, layerable, and interchangeable. And the menu was intentionally designed to showcase the commonalities of our respective cultures and what’s possible when they intertwine.”
Rhea and Marcel’s love for food is largely shaped by their heritage. Rhea and Marcel share, “Both Indian and Mexican cultures are dynamic and food takes center stage to any gathering – big or small, even though neither culture can cook small, always cooking for a village. When we think of our happiest moments, it always includes food and people.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Rhea and Marcel were furloughed from their corporate jobs. With their newfound time, they decided to give Saucy Chick a chance and asked family and friends if they could feed them for a donation. “Neither Marcel or I have any culinary training or formal kitchen experience,” Rhea shares, “But we have a passion for people and food. Additionally, we’ve been privileged enough to experience food as a source of joy and connection, bringing together people and conversation. Some of my fondest memories to this day involve childhood memories of gatherings and full plates.”
So what makes Saucy Chick different from any rotisserie chicken you have had? The answer may seem obvious, but the process starts with good chickens. All of Saucy Chick Rotisserie chickens are Mary’s Free Range chickens. They are free-range, nonGMO, antibiotic free, GAP Step 3 certified, born and bred in California, and air-chilled. Next is the craftsmanship that Rhea and Marcel put into each chicken. They hand brine each chicken and set it in their special scratch-crafted marinade for 24 hours. Each of Saucy Chick’s flavors are thoughtfully created and personal to Marcel and Rhea. Rhea and Marcel explain, “Jeera Chick begins with a lengthy process of caramelizing fresh onions. Once they are a gorgeous, deep brown, we add fresh ginger, garlic, cumin and cilantro and let all those amazing flavors meld. This recipe is inspired by one of Rhea’s favorite dishes her parents would make for her. Earthy, warm and full of flavor. Pibil Chick is inspired by one of Marcel’s favorite dishes, Cochinita Pibil, and bursts with notes of citrus, garlic, Mexican oregano and cloves and is naturally crimson due to achiote. It's Marcel’s favorite and he made sure it was on our wedding menu. Classic Chick is simple with a feather-soft sweet tamarind finish for those who want something incredibly versatile.”
In addition to the chicks, Rhea and Marcel have also created a variety of side dishes including Mom’s Beans, “whipped pinto beans with chorizo and cheese” and five different premium sauces that range from sweet to savory to spicy. Although Saucy Chick specializes in rotisserie chicken, they also cater to vegetarians and vegans with their dishes like the Charred Haldi Cauliflower bowls, Kachumber Salad, and Mayocoba Beans. And it doesn’t end there. Rhea even put her own twist on her childhood favorite drink, falooda, and includes lime, rose scented organic coconut milk, and sweet basil seeds.
While it was exciting to be pursuing this new venture, starting Saucy Chick came with a steep learning curve and an entire new world of challenges. Everything from sourcing ingredients to packaging was new territory for Rhea and Marcel, and was even frightening at times. “We absolutely recognize the massive responsibility and pressure to get it right and to do so 100% of the time (which is hard but is a goal). There’s a lot that goes on in the background that Instagram doesn’t show you – there have been countless times we’ve had to think quickly on our feet due to something outside of our control. And every time we deliver, we have our hearts on our sleeves, craving feedback – both positive and constructive as we are sincerely hungry to learn, grow and deliver on what our at-home guests want.” Running a virtual restaurant also poses challenges for visibility and requires Rhea and Marcel to wear many hats. They share, “We are prep, cook, delivery, marketing, sales, photographer, operations, production, logistics, sourcing, call center and most importantly, parents, daughter/son, aunt/uncle, sister/brother. We absolutely love being part of our guests’ celebrations and excitement and providing an opportunity for loved ones to gather around (safely of course), but this means at this stage of our venture, we have to rethink how we set aside time for ourselves.”
After starting Saucy Chick Rotisserie, Rhea and Marcel have gained an increased appreciation for the drive it takes to run a small business. “We would love the privilege of feeding you our hand-crafted eats and we encourage folks to continue to support the many small businesses in the coming years. We live and work in such diverse areas, there are incredible food crafters and chefs who are hustling that would love your Yelp review, your like on social, a word of encouragement, your sharing of their content, and sharing of their business.” Running a small business is challenging, but Rhea and Marcel say it has been entirely rewarding because of their guests, followers, and the community. Rhea says, “Words cannot express the level of joy we receive when we’ve made a new connection. Despite all the bumps, it’s been so incredibly rewarding to connect with the community in such an intimate way. Being invited into the homes and onto the plates of our fellow Angelenos has been nothing short of astounding, leaving us in awe and gratitude.”
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