Inspired by his grandmother, chef Marc Dunham loves making people happy through food. Fortunately, his current culinary journey has him doing just that.

At an early age, the Texas native began cooking out of necessity, but after watching his grandmother’s zeal for the activity, he quickly grew to love it. However, it was a job in his pre-teen years that fueled his life-long passion for the hospitality industry. 

“I started working in restaurants at twelve washing dishes and fell in love with [it],” says Dunham. “I worked around my hometown of New Braunfels, then Austin, and left for New York to work and attend culinary school.”

After finishing at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Dunham took up residence in the city for three and a half more years before moving back to Austin to work in several restaurants and culinary schools, including the Texas Culinary Academy. There, he met another chef and his future wife, Jenny, who is a native Oklahoman.  

The pair then decided to move to Oklahoma City to be near family. After settling in, the Dunhams opened Nashbird, a Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant and bar. They have additional locations in Norman and Edmond with plans to open a spot up in Midwest City in 2021.

“My mother was a supervisor in a fried chicken restaurant when I was young, and I remember spending time there with her,” says Dunham. “I noticed that there weren’t that many fried chicken counter service restaurants in the [Oklahoma City] area, and no one was concentrating on spicy fried chicken, although several restaurants had hot chicken as a dish on their menu.” 

Thus, Nashbird was born. But besides his bustling restaurant, Dunham also offers consulting through Dunham Hospitality Group. He lends his expertise and services to local restaurants and hospitality businesses to help them succeed in a variety of ventures. 

“I have helped restaurants with simple projects, like recipe development, or something more involved, like becoming a restaurant operating partner,” he says. “Clients reach out, we discuss what they need and then we put together a plan to execute and solve whatever challenges they are having.”

For aspiring chefs, Dunham had a little advice. He recommends finding a job in a kitchen to see if the work is for you, then sidling up to a talented chef to teach you a few things. If you love cooking, you can either continue to work in restaurants to gain knowledge or attend culinary school.

“For people from Oklahoma City, I would recommend traveling to larger markets like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, or even overseas to work and learn from chefs in highly competitive cities,” he suggests. “When you surround yourself with a lot of talented people from different backgrounds, it forces you to get better at your craft.”

Nashbird Hot Chicken Sandwich

Hot chicken is the name of the game at Nashbird in OKC. Photo by Gray Siegel – Gray Photography

 5 oz Boneless chicken breast
 1 cup All-purpose flour
 ½ cup Buttermilk
 2 tbsp Hot sauce – Tabasco or your favorite brand
 ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
 2 oz Cole slaw mix
 3 tbsp Mayonnaise
 1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
 ½ tsp Lemon juice
 3 Slices dill pickles
 1 Brioche bun or your favorite
 1 tsp Butter to toast the bun
 ¼ cup Nashbird spice – Chirp, Kickin or Hot Dang – or other favorite hot chicken spice recipe
 ½ cup Frying oil
 Salt

Preparing the Chicken
1

Pat the boneless chicken breast dry with paper towels and season evenly with a little salt on both sides.

2

Using 3 mixing bowls, set up a breading station using ½ of the flour in the first bowl, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce in the second bowl, and mix the remaining flour and panko breadcrumbs in the 3rd bowl.

3

Place the chicken breast in the first bowl of flour and dust the breast evenly with flour. Place the chicken breast in the second bowl of buttermilk and hot sauce and evenly coat and then the last bowl of flour and panko and coat evenly. Set aside.

4

Place the chicken breast in the pre-heated 325F fryer and cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165F is achieved.

5

Mix together ½ cup of the fryer oil and the ¼ cup of Nashbird spice or other favorite hot chicken spice together with tongs. Dip the fully cooked chicken breast in the spice mixture and make sure it’s covered on both sides. Drain off excess oil.

Toppings and Bun
6

Mix the cole slaw mix, half of the mayonnaise, the apple cider vinegar and a little salt together and mix evenly. Set aside.

7

Mix together the other half of the mayonnaise and the lemon juice and set aside.

8

Toast the bun on a griddle using the butter.

9

Spread the lemon mayo on the bottom of the bun and place the pickle slices on the same bottom bun.

10

Place the chicken breast on the bottom bun and then place the cole slaw on top of the breast. Cover with the top bun and enjoy!

Ingredients

 5 oz Boneless chicken breast
 1 cup All-purpose flour
 ½ cup Buttermilk
 2 tbsp Hot sauce – Tabasco or your favorite brand
 ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
 2 oz Cole slaw mix
 3 tbsp Mayonnaise
 1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
 ½ tsp Lemon juice
 3 Slices dill pickles
 1 Brioche bun or your favorite
 1 tsp Butter to toast the bun
 ¼ cup Nashbird spice – Chirp, Kickin or Hot Dang – or other favorite hot chicken spice recipe
 ½ cup Frying oil
 Salt

Directions

Preparing the Chicken
1

Pat the boneless chicken breast dry with paper towels and season evenly with a little salt on both sides.

2

Using 3 mixing bowls, set up a breading station using ½ of the flour in the first bowl, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce in the second bowl, and mix the remaining flour and panko breadcrumbs in the 3rd bowl.

3

Place the chicken breast in the first bowl of flour and dust the breast evenly with flour. Place the chicken breast in the second bowl of buttermilk and hot sauce and evenly coat and then the last bowl of flour and panko and coat evenly. Set aside.

4

Place the chicken breast in the pre-heated 325F fryer and cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165F is achieved.

5

Mix together ½ cup of the fryer oil and the ¼ cup of Nashbird spice or other favorite hot chicken spice together with tongs. Dip the fully cooked chicken breast in the spice mixture and make sure it’s covered on both sides. Drain off excess oil.

Toppings and Bun
6

Mix the cole slaw mix, half of the mayonnaise, the apple cider vinegar and a little salt together and mix evenly. Set aside.

7

Mix together the other half of the mayonnaise and the lemon juice and set aside.

8

Toast the bun on a griddle using the butter.

9

Spread the lemon mayo on the bottom of the bun and place the pickle slices on the same bottom bun.

10

Place the chicken breast on the bottom bun and then place the cole slaw on top of the breast. Cover with the top bun and enjoy!

Nashbird Hot Chicken Sandwich