Music fans probably already know Mississippi-born rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T. pulled into Minneapolis last Friday to conquer the Varsity Theater as part of his From the South With Love Tour. But before he took the stage, the artist made the kind of detour few famous folks have time for anymore.
Backing up a few steps: When local neo-soul-Caribbean joint Soul Bowl transitioned from a pop-up and catering-only outfit to its present home inside Graze, the Great Chicken Sandwich Feud of 2019 was raging.
“We were knee-deep in the Popeye’s/Chick-fil-A sandwich war, so I really wanted to put our best foot forward and kind of put something on there,” said Soul Bowl’s chef Gerard Klass, telling of how Soul Bowl’s Big K.R.I.T. Sandwich came to be. “I think around the time of the opening there was a lot of people tagging him or the sandwich, and I think just with the influx of the opening, that was enough [for Big K.R.I.T.] to be like, ‘Okay, why do I keep getting tagged on a sandwich?’”
Before long, Klass got a DM from the rapper.
Klass says he asked, “Is this for me?” and the chef politely invited him to stop by next time he was in town, not knowing a tour loomed on the horizon. For his part, Klass harbored no real expectations that such a visit would materialize.
“When you’re in the process of planning the menu, you’re not expecting the people to come. You’re doing it because you love their art and because they inspire you.”
When Friday’s show rolled around, Klass posted a decadent photo of the Big K.R.I.T. Sandwich on Soul Bowl’s social media accounts along with a caption paralleling the artist’s approach to music and his style in the kitchen. He wrote,
In honor of the legendary Big K.R.I.T. coming to Minneapolis tonight I want to give you insight on why we named our chicken sandwich after him. Besides being one of chef Gerard Klass’ favorite rappers and one of the most underrated in the game. Big K.R.I.T.’s style of honoring hip-hop’s past and re-imagining its future combined with mixing singing, rapping, poetry, jazz, blues, gospel in his music is exactly how we cook at Soul Bowl. We try to honor soul food’s past and put our own swag on it mix it with hip hop and serve it to you!
And yet, Big K.R.I.T. did show up… with his whole entourage.
“He blessed the sandwich,” recounted Klass, with a smile in his voice. “He enjoyed it. It’s funny because I don’t think he eats pork and the fact that we have turkey bacon on there was kinda like a cool little thing. You know, it spoke specifically, like, ‘Hey, they know what we like.’”
Klass attributes the visit entirely to the support of the Soul Bowl community, who’ve now added an extra layer of nostalgia to an already phenomenal sandwich. “Yeah, it was definitely mostly our customers [responsible].”
The detail not to be missed here is Soul Bowl’s Big K.R.I.T. Sandwich is worth raving about to famous people and beyond. Yes, it’s that good.
At its core is a thick cut of fried chicken that’s been well seasoned, battered, and fried until perfectly crispy-crunchy. It’s dressed with heirloom tomatoes, a criss-cross of thick slabs of turkey bacon, and a fistful of mixed greens, plus a thin slip of mayo and drizzle of sweet honey hot sauce that bears just a hint of smoke to finish. This all comes served on a toasted bun that’s sprinkled with everything seasoning (like you’d find on a bagel) and is hearty enough to hold so many big textures intact. The thing is a feat of flavor and architecture. Truly there are few better sandwiches in this city.
If you kept getting tagged in this sandwich, you’d seek it out, too. Luckily you only have to travel across town for it, so there’s really no excuse for not grabbing a Big K.R.I.T. as soon as possible.
520 N. Fourth St., Minneapolis