Is the rotisserie chook the next big Australian export to the US?

A classic roast chook from Merivale's Chicken Shop.
A classic roast chook from Merivale's Chicken Shop. Photo: Supplied

The slopes and valleys of San Francisco are about to become the new battleground for a Sydney food staple. The rotisserie chicken cult – which comes with any number of local and Lebanese twists and championed by Justin Hemmes in Paddington – is pushing Stateside.

Paul Shulte, the owner of Prince of York in the CBD, already has a toe in the San Francisco market with a wine bar-eatery in the city's financial district. He's teaming with his partners in that business by opening an eat-in chicken shop and wine bar in coming months in San Francisco's Noe Valley.

"Americans eat something like eight billion chickens a year. The challenge is probably most of them are deep-fried," he says.

Charcoal chicken at El Jannah, Granville.
Charcoal chicken at El Jannah, Granville. Photo: Marco Del Grande

He concedes that educating Americans about rotisserie chicken is the biggest hurdle. The health benefits help, but it's still an unknown for many.

Australian cafe operator Giles Russell believes Americans are open to new ideas. As co-owner of the Two Hands cafe chain in the US, Russell was part of the wave that made avocado toast a staple in that country.

"A few of the fast-casual [restaurants] are starting to use rotisserie chicken. You can get it at the deli at Dudley's [in Manhattan]," he says. And Kismet restaurant, in Los Angeles, recently open a rotisserie chicken spin-off.

"If there is another place doing rotisserie chicken in San Francisco, I'm not aware of it," Shulte says.

"In a way, we're doing something that's missing even in Sydney. A sexier eat-in chicken place serving natural wines. If it works, I can see us doing a few of them."

They are still tossing around names for the venue, and Shulte concedes there's a big job ahead trying to explain the Australian picnic food of choice to Americans. How about Thanksgiving 365 days a year? "That just might work," he says.