Poulette: French Chicken in Hell’s Kitchen

A man standing next to a glass door

Laureen Starnini

Adam Jama grew up in Paris, where rich scents wafted from chicken roasting on the spit every Sunday morning. Now, he has imported this delicacy his New York restaurant Poulette — and to rave reviews.

“We’ve only been open two weeks and there are already people who come every day,” says the French cook with a smile on his lips, since he has spent a full year working on the project. The restaurant owner had no need to publicize the opening of his restaurant — passers-by can’t help but redirect themselves towards Poulette’s doors. It must be the yummy smell of the chicken browning on the spit.

After having worked for several years in finance, the young man wanted to start his own business. “I wanted to tackle it,” explains Jama. “In France, people cook often, with the exception of the roasted chicken people often buy already prepared at the markets on weekends.” So it’s a little piece of France that Jama is bringing to New York, especially since the rotisserie restaurant is coming directly from the French capital. Notably, he has attracted the biggest “New Yorker” among all of the French chocolatiers, Jacques Torres, who has already come to try the savory chicken at Poulette.

Located in Hell’s Kitchen restaurant-laden streets, Jama has no shortage of hungry customers to keep him busy: “Many offices have asked if we also do catering.” To prove his point, a customer walked into the restaurant during the interview and asked if Poulette had jumped into the catering business as well. Jama laughed, “You see? I wasn’t lying!”

At Poulette, people feast on chicken roasted with citrus, garlic, and herbs. “All of our products are fresh,” insists the owner, especially the free range chickens that are raised outside in upstate New York. The chicken is served with brussels sprouts, quinoa, or the famous stew of zucchini, eggplant and tomato, ratatouille. An alternative is to order the chicken sandwich with the suggestive name, “Ma grosse poulette” or “My fat chick.” The sandwich sells very well, because “The customers love to say the name!” Jama chuckles.

The restaurant’s early success has led Jama to imagine things on a grand scale: “People have already asked us several times if we have other Poulette restaurants in the city and if it’s a chain.” Even though Adam Jama admits that he wouldn’t hate to see Poulette flourish in New York, for the moment his priority is to enjoy what he does.

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