A sampling of a sandwich from the Budlong Hot Chicken.EXPAND
A sampling of a sandwich from the Budlong Hot Chicken.
Linnea Covington

The Budlong Hot Chicken and BBQ Supply Co. Set for May Launch

Au Feu chef/owner Jared Leonard gently dropped marinated chicken haunches into fryer oil, adding the sound of sizzling meat to the smell of wood smoke that permeated his roomy commercial kitchen in southwest Denver. Over at the counter, he spread Mississippi comeback sauce (the South's answer to Thousand Island) on brioche buns, topped them with some farm slaw and waited to rub the hot fried chicken with his proprietary spice blend. Soon, he says, everyone will get to try his hot chicken — once the Budlong Hot Chicken truck hits the road in May.

The Budlong Hot Chicken owner Jared Leonard making up hot chicken sandwiches.EXPAND
The Budlong Hot Chicken owner Jared Leonard making up hot chicken sandwiches.
Linnea Covington

This preview of Leonard's Budlong Hot Chicken, a popular Chicago eatery with multiple locations, showcased what the restaurateur and owner of Stone Soup Collective will be serving from his truck. Fans will be able to track down his eatery on wheels from 5 to 9 p.m. every other Wednesday between May 30 and August 22 at the Evergreen Lake House (29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen), during the town's free summer concert series, and at metro breweries on other days of the week (the schedule is coming soon). Menu items include Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches, tenders and on-the-bone fried chicken, as well as farm slaw (coleslaw with more than just cabbage), potato salad and macaroni and cheese. For those who want tasty fried chicken without the heat, Budlong will also serve the locally sourced Red Bird chicken "naked," or fire eaters can order it extra-hot.

The Budlong Hot Chicken truck.EXPAND
The Budlong Hot Chicken truck.
Linnea Covington

Around the time that the Budlong truck launches, Leonard will also open up BBQ Supply Co., his barbecue event space and catering company that also has its roots in Chicago, where the entrepreneur has spread his love for barbecue with two locations. The Denver branch of BBQ Supply Co. can be found at 2180 South Delaware Street, across from the West Evans Park-N-Ride, in a building that was most recently home to Mame's Burritos.

Inside BBQ Supply Co.'s dining area. The sign came from a diner across the street from Leonard's first Chicago restaurant.EXPAND
Inside BBQ Supply Co.'s dining area. The sign came from a diner across the street from Leonard's first Chicago restaurant.
Linnea Covington

For now, the only way to taste Leonard's barbecue is to book a private party at the forty-seat space or order catering. But Leonard will soon launch a series of ever-changing Friday night pit-to-plate dinners (with May dates to be announced soon), an event he started in Chicago that involves community seating with "pig-picking" whole hog roasts, smoked-meat spreads and tons of sides such as truffled macaroni and cheese, braised collards and custard-filled cornbread, made from a recipe he found in a decades-old copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

An amazing smoker truck in front of BBQ Supply Co.EXPAND
An amazing smoker truck in front of BBQ Supply Co.
Linnea Covington
Inside BBQ Supply Co.'s event space.EXPAND
Inside BBQ Supply Co.'s event space.
Linnea Covington
The sausage-filled smoker at BBQ Supply Co.EXPAND
The sausage-filled smoker at BBQ Supply Co.
Linnea Covington
Inside BBQ Supply Co.'s event space.EXPAND
Inside BBQ Supply Co.'s event space.
Linnea Covington
Owner Jared Leonard in front of his smoker.EXPAND
Owner Jared Leonard in front of his smoker.
Linnea Covington

"I try not to get fancy with these dinners," Leonard says. "I like to keep all the food in the barbecue circle."

Leonard will also host barbecue classes at the BBQ Supply Co. space — the perfect way, he says, to learn all his pitmaster secrets. The only thing you won't find out is how he makes the hot chicken, a recipe that took him years to perfect and one that he keeps secret.

The chef came to town last year to do a Budlong pop-up at The Source, and after that went well, he decided to open Au Feu at Zeppelin Station. During that time, his family fell in love with Colorado, so they decided to stay and bring his Chicago restaurants to the Denver. (Unlike the Budlong and BBQ Supply Co., though, Au Feu is a Denver original and serves Montreal-style brisket sandwiches and poutine.)

With Leonard's two new businesses ready to launch, you know that where there's smoke, there's fryer.

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