Field Failing was standing in the maternity ward of a New York City hospital when he heard the television blare out Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order for all restaurants to shrink their business to takeout and delivery due to COVID-19. His second child had been born in the middle of the night just a few hours earlier.
Failing knew his reality had changed both personally and professionally in that instant.
“I thought I was going to get a couple of days to meet our new son,” he says, “but that morning was one of the craziest work mornings I’ve ever had.”
The founder and CEO of Fields Good Chicken quickly circled the wagons. He hopped on a call with the managers of all six of the micro chains Manhattan locations and made the call to close all but one. They then surveyed each of the staff individually to find out what the entire team wanted to do before deciding to keep operating out of their Greenwich Village restaurant only.
Failing and his shrunken team has served takeout and delivery orders for roasted, humanely raised, antibiotic-free chicken and comforting sides to a large swath of Manhattan since March 21. And Failing has noticed a shift in ordering habits.
“Our Family Meal, which can feed up to four, is now consistently our top or second-bestseller,” he says. “I think this is driven by households of multiple family members or roommates all sheltering in place together, but also individuals and couples bulk-ordering in a sense to limit their need to venture out. I’m glad we can help with that.”
But that’s not the only way Fields Good Chicken is helping New Yorkers.
“When I was in the maternity ward, I saw the doctors and nurses caring for COVID-19 patients,” Failing says. “It was really inspiring to watch all of the medical workers show up and do their incredibly difficult job seemingly undaunted. I kept thinking about them and wanted to show them support.”
Failing led his team to start delivering healthy meals to medical workers in Manhattan. When word got out to Fields Good customers, they received an overwhelming number of requests to help support the initiative. That led Failing to launch a donation platform, Birds for Good, so those interested can help finance it. At the time of publishing, Fields Good Chicken has served over 3,000 hospital workers thanks to customer donations and the efforts of their team.
Thankfully, no matter where you live, you can help Failing feed those battling COVID-19 on the frontlines where the infection hit hardest. And while you might not be able to order his chicken if you’re not in the Big Apple, you can still get a taste of it at home with his chicken wings and cornbread recipes:
Maple Chipotle Wings
For 48 (ideally humanely raised) chicken wings:
1 cup kosher salt
.5 cup sugar
4 cups hot water
7 cups ice
Combine kosher salt and sugar. Pour hot water over the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk until dissolved. Add ice and stir until ice melts. Pour wet brine over the wings and refrigerate for two hours. Drain brine from wings and let dry in the refrigerator overnight uncovered
.25 cup neutral oil
.25 cup brown sugar
.25 cup paprika
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ginger powder
1 tbsp onion powder
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Once the wings have dried overnight in the refrigerator, toss them in the dry rub spice blend until coated. Preheat the oven to 400F and roast the coated wings on a rack-lined sheet tray, flipping halfway through the cooking process, about 30-35 minutes. Cook for an additional 10 minutes if you want fall-off-the-bone tender.
Maple Chipotle Sauce
1 can (7 oz) chipotle in adobo
1.33 cup maple syrup
1 cup cider vinegar
.5 cup tamari
.5 tsp salt
While wings are in the oven, prepare the maple chipotle sauce by blending all of the ingredients until smooth. Once wings are finished, toss them in the maple chipotle sauce and serve.
20-ounce box of your favorite cornbread mix (Fields Good recommends Bob’s Red Mill)
.25 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
.25 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-4 tablespoons of butter, oil or bacon fat to grease the skillet
2 cups milk
.5 cup extra virgin olive oil
.125 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet in the oven set to 425F. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, making sure to coat cheese in the cornbread mix. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. Carefully remove the hot cast iron skillet from the oven, add the butter, oil or bacon fat, let it melt, then add batter and spread in an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, top with reserved cheddar cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and honey.