Hot Box Biscuit Club, Fort Worth’s newest “can’t miss” culinary experience, elevates the biscuit to an art form.
At a recent gathering of the Hot Box Biscuit Club, culinary Nirvana was achieved through Paris Hilton. No, the socialite and heiress has not refashioned herself as a chef, nor was she cannibalized. The Paris Hilton . . . That’s Hot was actually the name of the centerpiece dish. It (or she?) was accompanied with a selection of other cleverly named items, including the Hip Hop Lemon Drop and the Trill Daddy.
If you feel confused, don’t worry: such an original concept as the Hot Box Biscuit Club can seem confusing without proper explanation. To whit: started by Chef Sarah Hooton and her partner, Chef Matt Mobley, the Hot Box Biscuit Club is a pop-up culinary experience. Once a month, Sarah, Matt, and their team get together to execute a themed menu based around the noble biscuit.
“We keep the same format, with the biscuits coming first,” says Sarah. “We usually do a biscuit sandwich, a couple sides, and a dessert. We change up the items we’re doing based on the time of year, and use seasonal things.”
In addition to the entree, guests get served a bowl of biscuits with delectable spreads as an appetizer. To experience the Hot Box Biscuit Club — which also includes a themed cocktail — you must be ‘in the know.’ Followers of the club on Facebook and Instagram can sign up for notifications of the next event. You have to act fast, however, as the pop-ups have begun to sell out in a matter of minutes.
You might wonder how such an original concept got its start. Through a seed planted in Sarah’s mind while in Portland, the Hot Box Biscuit Club bloomed through a collaborative process with Matt and various friends.
“While I was in Portland for the 2015 Food and Wine Festival, I visited a popular biscuit restaurant.” says Sarah. “I liked the concept, and realized we didn’t have anything like that — so good and simple — in Fort Worth.”
Sarah brainstormed with friends and got Matt involved, and the idea took off.
“Matt’s really good at everything else, while I handle the pastry stuff,” says Sarah. “He’s very meticulous with his cooking, and we played around with some ideas. Then we just decided to roll with it.”
Each “meeting” of the Hot Box Biscuit Club requires an immense amount of prep from Sarah, Matt, and their team. Between the two of them alone, each event requires 40-50 hours of prep time. It all pays off, however, when the 50 or so guests sit down to enjoy the menu.
On a Sunday in April, this writer (thanks to a generous editor) had the pleasure of experiencing the Hot Box Biscuit Club. The event was held at Magdalena, a caterer and supper club whose owners, Juan and Paige Rodriguez, graciously allow the use of his gorgeous space. Guests took seats at large tables, with an overall communal set-up. Many guests brought their own bottles of wine, and a convivial, lively atmosphere ensued as cross-table talk filled the air.
A short introduction from Sarah preceded the first course: a heaping bowl of biscuits accompanied with homemade jam and butter. The Trill Daddy crawfish dip followed, and proved itself a ragin’ cajun success. The Paris Hilton arrived to awe all attendees through sight and smell. Compose of sugar-brined fried chicken with Louisiana hot sauce, a flavorful sauce called #tastydust, and whipped honey butter on a buttermilk biscuit, the Paris Hilton was an achievement in comfort food transcendence. The two side dishes, stewed okra with tomato and polenta grits with pimento cheese, served as the ideal accompaniment. Lastly, Sarah’s Buttermilk Pie arrived to tempt overloaded stomachs with its sugary perfection.
The only downside of the experience was that, thanks to the heaping portions, it felt impossible to enjoy enough of each item. Word to the wise: if you plan to experience the Hot Box Biscuit Club, come hungry. The cost of the event is $45 per person, and prospective attendees should stay sharp in watch of their email.
“The first couple of times, we sold out within a couple days,” says Sarah. “By the fifth, sixth, and seventh, we sold out in a manner of minutes. They fill up so quick I have to turn people away, which feels horrible. We’re trying to add a few more to get everyone in.”
To get connected, follow @hotboxbiscuitclub on Instagram, or search for the club on Facebook.