Whoo, my goodness, there is a public food fight over Charleston-based Life Raft Treat’s Not Fried Chicken Ice Cream (which sells for $100 for a “9-piece bucket”) – and it’s getting ugly, gang. Real ugly. And, now, I really do want to try both places’ ice cream. And this whole debacle begs the question – is recreating someone else’s dish and adding your own flair, is it truly ripping someone off? Isn’t cooking mostly just one endless series of riffing on the recipes of those before you? Wong sees this action, however, as more than riffing or homage. As you will see later in this post, Wong has likened Honeymoon Chicken’s action as a prime example of “white male chef stealing of women of color’s ideas.” When is it riffing and evolving a recipe and when is it stealing or cultural appropriation? A thorny topic to be sure.
From the Eater Carolinas article: The controversy over fried chicken ice cream erupted on July 15 when an acquaintance of Charleston-based entrepreneur Cynthia Wong tagged her in an Instagram post from D.C. restaurant Honeymoon Chicken. The post announced the restaurant’s release of its vanilla bourbon Honeymoon ice cream bar which greatly resembled Wong’s trademarked Not Fried Chicken dish.
[SotS Editor’s Note: as of press time, Honeymoon Chicken is still prominently featuring the ice cream concoction on its website: “It’s ice cream that looks like fried chicken, launching on National Ice Cream Day! On Sunday, July 17th beginning at 11am, we’ll be pushing a cart around Petworth full of Vanilla Bourbon Honeymoon Ice Cream Bars! Follow us on Instagram to discover our location, and the first 75 people to find us will get a free bar! These delightful treats will also be available for sale in-store beginning Sunday.”]
Wong, the owner of Life Raft Treats and six-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, has spent years perfecting a dessert that looks exactly like a fried chicken drumstick, except this “chicken” is waffle ice cream with a chocolate “bone” and a crispy cornflake crust. To see it ripped off by another company angered her and her followers who left numerous comments on the post.
“I understand the absurdity,” says Wong, “Democracy is dead, and the planet is on fire, and we’re all gonna be underwater, but I’m really pissed off about ice cream.”
[Another SotS Editor’s Note: Wong has taken a social media swipe at Honeymoon Chicken with a Facebook post:
Tastes like blatant theft and erasure!@honeymoonchicken
and Rob Sonderman have straight up ripped off our trademarked product and presented it as their own. White male chef stealing a woman of color’s ideas— I’d hoped we were all above that. Apparently not. Well, DC friends, the REAL Not Fried Chicken ice cream bar is hitting the shelves of @foxtrotmarket. where you can support a woman-owned and led small business with integrity and scruples, and not this guy who totally lacks either, along with actual creativity. Feel free to share this. #eater #eaterdc #eatercarolinas #bonappetit #foodandwine #cherrybombe #washingtonianmag #charlestoncitypaper]