The fourth and final Nashville Predators Foundation event of the summer, the inaugural Hot Shots: Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival was a unique experience unlike anything the Foundation has put on before.
“With Hot Shots, all we did was listen to our fans and put on the event they were asking for,” Nashville Predators Director of Business Strategy Jordan Kolosey said. “The result was spectacular, especially for a first-year event. We had a jam-packed arena floor in the middle of summer with our fans tasting what Nashville loves most: hot chicken, whiskey and bourbon. The best part is, next year’s event promises to be even bigger.”
If you didn’t get the opportunity to attend Hot Shots this year, take a look at the “eight things you missed if you didn’t attend the Nashville Predators Foundation’s Hot Shots: Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival” list below…and make plans to attend next year.
8. Catching up with 1,000 of your closest friends:
More than 1,000 people attended the inaugural Hot Shots Festival – escaping Nashville’s oppressive summer heat to come inside Bridgestone Arena and enjoy hot chicken, bourbon and whiskey samples on ice level.
While in the building, attendees were able to get a firsthand look and try out the new seats that Bridgestone Arena has been installing over the course of the summer.
7. Supporting the Nashville Predators Foundation:
Like the rest of the events the Predators Foundation puts on throughout the year (Craft Beer Festival, Wine Tasting, GnashVegas and more!), proceeds from the Hot Shots Festival supported the work the Preds Foundation does in the community. Because of events like Hot Shots, the Foundation was able to give away 88 grants, totaling more than $415,000 to Nashville and Middle Tennessee-based community service and charitable organizations during their annual grant distribution in May.
6. Hearing local celebrities Steve Layman (News Channel 5), Mickey Ryan (104.5 The Zone) and J.R. Lind (Nashville Scene) chat with Preds TV play-by-play announcer Stu Grimson and give their expert opinions on which hot chicken and bourbon samples not to miss:
Both Layman and Ryan were quick to point out that the spice on Bolton’s chicken had heat on it unlike anything else at the Festival, and that milk, or plenty of water, was strongly advised to accompany the sample.
Lind, who recently researched all of Nashville’s best hot chicken restaurants for an article in the Nashville Scene, showed the crowd his hot chicken tattoo and reviewed suggested hot chicken and bourbon pairings.
5. Hanging out with Gnash and his friend Booster:
Gnash, fresh off his trip to New York City for the NHL’s Mascot Convention, made a midsummer appearance to visit with fans at the Hot Shots Festival. Gnash’s good friend Booster of the Nashville Sounds, himself a hot chicken, made an appearance as well – taking photos with fans and enjoying the festivities.
4. Listening to live music from the TN Warblers and Ryan Olson:
It’s almost impossible to attend an event in Nashville without live music and the Hot Shots Festival did not disappoint. For the first half of the event, the TN Warblers, made up of John Beck on mandolin, Dean Marold on bass and Adam Dalton on guitar, entertained the crowd with Americana originals, blues and bluegrass standards. For the second half of the afternoon, Ryan Olson performed both original and well-loved country music favorites.
3. Trying some unique and limited edition bourbon and whiskey samples from more than 50 distillers:
Distilleries from both near and far, coordinated by Frugal MacDoogal Wine and Liquor Warehouse, brought some of their newest and unique bourbons and whiskeys for guests to sample during Saturday’s event. Just one example comes from SPEAKeasy Spirits, the distillery that also produces Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream, who brought samples of their new Vanilla Rye Whiskey and Peach Apricot Rye Whiskey, two new products that just became available to the public in July.
Corsair Artisan, whose home is just a few miles from Bridgestone Arena on Clinton Street, brought two of their new high-gravity beers – Applewood Gratzer and Ginger Lemongrass Hefeweizen – both items they have debuted in 2015.
2. Sampling chicken from 11 of Music City’s most popular hot chicken joints:
A&C Spicy Chicken, Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish, Buffalo Wild Wings, Coco’s Italian Market, Crow’s Nest, Party Fowl, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Smokin Thighs, Tenn Sixteen Food & Drink Co. and Wing Basket were all in attendance for the event.
Each restaurant not only brought their A game, but also brought their own unique viewpoint on great hot chicken. Bolton’s brought the traditional spice, Coco’s Italian Market took the route of a hot chicken sausage, Smokin Thighs featured their take on the chicken wings – grilled not fried – and even more unique offerings.
1. Voting on your favorite hot chicken to win the “Fan Favorite,” award:
After the votes were tallied, it was Tenn Sixteen Food & Drink Co. and their special hot chicken tenders served over a sliced baguette with hot pickle chips that was named “Fan Favorite” at the 2015 Hot Shots: Hot Chicken, Bourbon and Whiskey Festival. Tenn Sixteen Food & Drink Co., located on Woodland Street in East Nashville, is a restaurant focused on southern flavors with a Cajun twist – something that shone through in the chicken they brought along Saturday.
“At Tenn Sixteen, we really put an emphasis on flavor,” Tenn Sixteen Head Chef Steven Stuart said. “We didn’t want to just do hot chicken and have it be hot, we wanted it to taste good too. I put a lot of spices in the hot chicken that give it a nice, balanced flavor and complexity; in addition to being hot. It’s something that’s on our menu and it’s one of the dishes that we are most proud of.”
For a restaurant relatively new to the Nashville dining scene - Tenn Sixteen opened in June 2013 - being named the “fan favorite” at the Hot Shots Festival is something that means a lot.
“In the last year, we’ve tried to get our name out there as a hot chicken destination in Nashville,” Stuart said. “Nashville is known across the culinary world as a hot chicken destination and we want to get our name in that hat. Winning this is going to be tremendous in helping us accomplish that and letting people know that we’re one of the best. We’re very proud of that.”
To stay up to date on all the upcoming Nashville Predators Foundation events (including when the second annual Hot Shots Festival will be), visit Nashvillepredators.com/foundation and follow along with the Preds on social media (Twitter: @PredsNHL, Facebook: Nashville Predators Hockey Team).