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Nashville-style chicken is coming in hot thanks to Holly’s Hot Chicken

By Jordan Duff on July 27, 2018

The spicy passion of Holly Laham has already grown from a concept to pop-up dinners to a weekend residency at Bar Lupulus. While Laham’s move from her first Nashville sandwich to her pop-up restaurants has been quick, she’s already been in the food industry a long time.

Over the last few years, Laham has been making a name for herself as a pastry chef at Holland’s Cake and Shake, now part of the Morning Owl family. From there, she lent her name and talents to events like Dominion City Brewing’s Making It Grain and Clover’s Women’s Dinner. She worked hard for those opportunities, as prior to that she was putting herself through Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute by working at Lone Star Texas Grill. Her Lone Star alias was Moonshine, which is irrelevant to this story, but it’s awesome. She’s cleary an industry vet.

It was thanks to Cake and Shake’s Michael Holland that Laham began to better understand the industry, make connections and start to branch out on her own. When the pastry shop underwent a management change, Laham took the opportunity to start her next step in her own entrepreneurial journey.

The decision to work with Nashville-style chicken is both random and practical. One evening, her partner Scott requested a deep-fried chicken meal, which not only turned out exceptional but ignited (yep) a love for deep-frying food. “Deep frying stuff is my favourite thing to do,” explains Lahan. Aside from her skills at working the deep-fryer, Laham notes that these Nashville hot chicken sandwiches are a flavour profile that no one else in Ottawa is doing. Plus, the cuts and ingredients are affordable, helping her work towards her goal of creating an approachable menu both in terms of flavour and cost.

The levels of heat in each of the current four sandwiches ranges from sweet to heat that rivals the current Ottawa weather. It also includes a cauliflower vegetarian option.

While Laham’s positioning within the Ottawa foodie scene and the success of her pop-ups thus far make it seemed destined that Holly’s Hot Chicken will find success, it’s her drive that will see her succeed. As we spoke at The Third (a suitable venue as it has also found its niche in trendy Hintonburg), Laham’s quiet confidence around this idea and her ability to pull it off was obvious. She was chasing her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant, but was also pragmatic about the realities of the food industry and what needed to be done to realize her goal. It’s a good combo, making it hard not to cheer for her. Plus the sandwiches are top notch.


Find Holly’s Hot Chicken online and on Friday and Saturday nights at Bar Lupulus on Wellington. The sandwiches are best paired with the crispiest of pilsners.