First Look

First Look: Chook Fires Up for Friday Opening

That skin.
That skin. Mark Antonation
The aroma of charcoal and chicken is filling the air over the Platt Park neighborhood as Chook gets ready for its opening day on Friday, December 7, 2018. The fast-casual restaurant takes its name from the Australian slang for chicken; the kind of fire-roasted bird co-owner Adam Schlegel (co-founder of Snooze) fell in love with while living in Australia.

Like its Australian counterparts, Chook is a neighborhood eatery (taking over the former home of the Village Cork at 1300 South Pearl Street) specializing in affordable meals for the whole family, with whole roast chicken, sandwiches, salads and sides available for takeout or dining in.

click to enlarge Randy Layman (left), Adam Schlegel and Alex Seidel are launching Chook this week. - MARK ANTONATION
Randy Layman (left), Adam Schlegel and Alex Seidel are launching Chook this week.
Mark Antonation
Schlegel has partnered with chef Alex Seidel (founder of Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision) and Randy Layman (front-of-house and bar expert) on the project, who each add a crucial element in Chook's overall plan. While a whole roast chicken can be had for $20 and a plate of three sliders stuffed with pulled chicken, slaw and gravy rings in at $9, Seidel's focus on high-end cuisine ensures that flavors rise above typical fast-food fare. Layman adds a quality beverage program of house wines from Italy and batched cocktails served in glass "pots" with foil lids, as well as a dedication to hospitality that extends to Chook's employee training. And Schlegel's experience with Snooze all but guarantees a smooth-running operation, even at high volume.

It all starts with the chicken, though, brined and and cooked on a rotisserie grill that can hold up to sixty birds, which roast for about an hour each before they're cut into quarters and halves or pulled for sandwiches and salads. Potatoes, broccoli, delicata squash, carrots and cauliflower are also fire-roasted, adding a hint of char to various dishes. Other sides include mac and cheese (made with orecchiette instead of elbow pasta), mashed potatoes, "Chook chips" dusted in Chicken Salt (made by Savory Spice and sold in shakers to take home), and booyah stew, a grain-based chicken stew from Seidel's childhood days in Michigan.


click to enlarge Chook takes over the former home of the Village Cork. - MARK ANTONATION
Chook takes over the former home of the Village Cork.
Mark Antonation
Schlegel explains that the chicken comes from Miller Poultry, a small Indiana company that utilizes a network of Amish chicken farmers to provide birds raised according to Global Animal Partnership Step 2 requirements (no cages, no crowding, natural light and an enriched environment that lets chickens be chickens). While Seidel and Schlegel would like to source chicken from Colorado, current laws make it difficult for small farms that produce fewer than 20,000 birds annually to process their chickens at a reasonable price.

Eating lunch or dinner at Chook lands you more than just a good meal; you'll also be contributing to local charities. In fact, you can use a token to vote for an organization (schools in the neighborhood and food-based charities, for example) that will receive 1 percent of Chook's sales each month.

Chook will be open for lunch and dinner beginning at 11 a.m. daily. Call 303-282-8399 or visit the Chook website for a menu and other details. Keep reading for more photos.
click to enlarge Roast chickens hot off the rotisserie. - MARK ANTONATION
Roast chickens hot off the rotisserie.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Chook's chicken salad sandwich. - MARK ANTONATION
Chook's chicken salad sandwich.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Chook's Chicken Salt, made by Savory Spice. - MARK ANTONATION
Chook's Chicken Salt, made by Savory Spice.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Chicken sliders with gravy. - MARK ANTONATION
Chicken sliders with gravy.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Inside Chook. - MARK ANTONATION
Inside Chook.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge It's bright and cheery inside Chook. - MARK ANTONATION
It's bright and cheery inside Chook.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Roast chicken is the specialty at Chook. - MARK ANTONATION
Roast chicken is the specialty at Chook.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge At the order counter, you can cast votes for the charity of the month that will receive a portion of Chook sales. - MARK ANTONATION
At the order counter, you can cast votes for the charity of the month that will receive a portion of Chook sales.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Sides get a hint of the charcoal fire, too; coal-roasted potatoes and salads with roast cauliflower and broccoli. - MARK ANTONATION
Sides get a hint of the charcoal fire, too; coal-roasted potatoes and salads with roast cauliflower and broccoli.
Mark Antonation
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation