The battle for peri peri supremacy has begun. After almost two years of operations, Peli Peli Kitchen is coming out with a new menu that finally incorporates authentic peri peri spices, seasonings and flavors.
While Peli Peli and its fast casual concept, Peli Peli Kitchen, have pioneered South African cuisine to the Houston market, one segment they have not introduced has been peri peri chicken and seafood, despite taking their names from the peri peri spice. Peri Peri, or piri piri, is a chili pepper discovered by Portuguese settlers in South Africa and has been extremely popular for seasoning chicken and seafood.
With over 1,000 outlets in 35 countries, Nando's Peri Peri has built a worldwide following with its version of peri peri flavors. While Nando's is still relatively unknown in the United States, in the past six months, new peri peri-inspired concepts have opened in Houston such as Peri Peri Factory and Porto's Peri Peri. In getting ready for regional expansion, Peli Peli Kitchen decided it was time to not only improve operational efficiency and reduce labor, but also give fans of South African cuisine the one thing they ask for the most: peri peri.
"That is probably the number one question I get asked," says chef Paul Friedman, the executive chef and co-founder of the Peli Peli Restaurant Group. "If you guys are South African, where is your peri peri chicken?"
In order to infuse the menu with legitimate peri peri flavors, Peli Peli Kitchen partnered with South African restaurateur, Ryan Stewart, who is known for his peri peri flavors through his restaurant concept, Mozambik. With fifteen locations throughout Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa, Mozambik has been widely recognized for its peri peri chicken and seafood. Stewart will be in charge of operations and growth for all Peli Peli Kitchen concepts. His first action item was to change the menu to better reflect his expertise in peri peri-infused cuisine.
"I've won several awards in Johannesburg for my peri peri chicken and prawns," says Stewart. "But I am very excited to see how the American public responds to my flavors; I hope they really enjoy them." So far, the results have been positive. Stewart's first American food competition, the 4th Annual Tacolandia festival hosted by the Houston Press, was a success with Stewart's version of taco, a Portuguese beef fajita taco winning the People's Choice award.
In addition to traditional peri peri, Stewart will introduce variations including lemon herb peri peri, BBQ peri peri and his favorite, the spiciest version of peri peri he calls, the "BLITZ."
Peli Peli Kitchen is located at 9090 Katy Freeway and inside Houston's first 365 by Whole Foods Market at 101 N. Loop West.
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