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New LA Food Festival Focuses on Beloved Bar Staple, the Chicken Tender

Chicken tenders from some of LA’s most popular restaurants, including one from Wolfgang Puck

A lineup of chicken tenders and sandwiches with fries and sides.
Dave’s Hot Chicken
Wonho Frank Lee

Everyone loves a chicken tender, right? Though it’s often relegated to the snacks and appetizer pages of chain restaurants, fast food restaurants, and everyday dive bars, there’s no denying the allure of breaded, boneless, deep-fried strips of chicken served with dipping sauce (and ideally a beer).

Now the tender is getting its well-deserved due thanks to John Terzian of the H.Wood Group and the folks from Off the Menu, who have been throwing hyper-specific food events around the city for some time now. App maker Lawrence Longo mostly focuses on partnering with restaurants to let diners get access to off-menu dishes at participating places on a rotating basis, but the events themselves — from a chicken wing festival to a Prince Street Pizza pop-up — have become their own public draw.

TenderFest lands at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on November 15, where Off the Menu held its Burger Showdown event last year as part of the LA Times Food Bowl. The event will feature a variety of restaurants from around the city, including Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Delilah, Hot Motha Clucker, Raising Caine’s, and Dave’s Hot Chicken in the VIP area. In addition, chefs Nancy Silverton, Timothy Hollingsworth, and Wolfgang Puck will all be making one-off tenders as part of a competition at the event, and the winner will receive a cash prize for charity.

Tickets for Off the Menu’s TenderFest, which is being presented alongside H.Wood Group’s Tony LaPenna, Anthony Gonzales, and Terzian (who has repeatedly said that chicken tenders are his favorite food), are available now. General admission runs $65 and includes unlimited tenders and beer, while the VIP section adds merch, VIP-only vendors, and an Off the Menu app membership.

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