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Pretty Bird Hot Chicken set to open a Park City location

Owner Viet Pham aims for perfect balance between flavor and heat

Pretty Bird Hot Chicken is coming to Park City in early February. The small Salt Lake Chain started by Viet Pham and his wife Alexis serves up spicy hot chicken sandwiches and meals. The Phams own three additional Pretty Bird locations in the Salt Lake Valley.
David Jackson/Park Record

The secret of a great-tasting, spicy-hot chicken sandwich is finding a balance with the heat and flavor.

“That takes the most skill, because heat can overpower the taste,” said Viet Pham, founder and owner of Pretty Bird Hot Chicken, which will open a location at 1775 Prospector Ave. in a few weeks. “Since we put so much work in sourcing amazing chicken and the way we fry it, we have to make sure the complex mixture of spices we put on it won’t be overwhelmed by the heat. Because at the end of the day, anyone can go onto Amazon and buy Carolina Reaper Pepper Powder or habanero pepper powder and put it on your chicken.”

Pham, who opened the first Pretty Bird Hot Chicken restaurant with his wife Alexis in Salt Lake City in 2018, said his background in fine dining helped forge his understanding of flavors, textures and the other complexities of fried chicken.



Pretty Bird Hot Chicken owner Viet Pham reached back into his fine-dining training and experimented with ingredients and flavors to come up with the Pretty Bird Hot Chicken sandwich combination.
Photo by Bonjwing Lee

“The amount of (research and development) we did was surprising,” said Pham, who previously owned the award-winning Forage restaurant in Salt Lake City. “I didn’t want a flavor profile that was singular. I wanted something that would entice people to come back over and over again.”

After working with a combination of flavors and ingredients, Pham developed the assembly order of Pretty Bird’s signature chicken sandwich.



“We start with the bottom bun, and then put sauce on it,” he said. “Then we put on the chicken, pickles and slaw and then the top bun. It has to be done in that order, because if you put the slaw on before the pickles, it would not taste right.”

As he did with the taste of the chicken, Pham experimented a lot with the buns.

Pretty Bird Hot Chicken owner Viet Pham wanted to make sure his chicken has a balance between spiciness and flavor.
Photo by Bonjwing Lee

“I’m happy to say, after 3 1/2 years of developing our buns with different bakers and companies, we’re 99% there,” he said.

Pham, who studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, was introduced to hot fried chicken while he was in L.A. as a contestant on the cooking competition show “Food Network Star.”

“When I was eliminated halfway through the show, I did some roaming around in Orange County and visited a friend’s restaurant,” he said. “Back then hot chicken was really just something from Nashville, but my friend’s hot chicken wasn’t Nashville hot chicken. It was Memphis hot chicken, which is different, because it is more vinegar hot-sauce based than a dry rub.”

Once Pham took a bite, he knew that his next project would be a hot chicken restaurant.

“As a chef, when we go out to eat, I always look for perspective, but when I go out to eat fried chicken, I don’t look for perspective,” he said. “It’s just comfort food for me, but when I had my friend’s hot chicken, the complexity of the flavors and spices just blew my mind.”

From then, Pham began making notes about what would eventually become Pretty Bird.

Pretty Bird Hot Chicken, which will open in early February at 1775 Prospector Drive, will spice up Park City’s culinary community.
David Jackson/Park Record

“In 2018 I opened up the first Pretty Bird on Regent Street (in Salt Lake City), and the name came from the movie ‘Dumb and Dumber,’” he said. “I had a list of names, but none of them clicked. One evening, eight months before we opened, I was channel surfing and landed on the scene where the kid was petting his dead pet, saying ‘Pretty bird, pretty bird.’ I knew right then that was what I was going to name the restaurant.”

Serendipitously, that scene was filmed in Park City, just three blocks away from Pham’s restaurant.

“It was like it was meant to be,” he said. “It’s been quite the journey, but we still have a long road ahead of us.”

For information about Pretty Bird Hot Chicken, visit prettybirdchicken.com.


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