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Inspiring Conversations with Rhea and Marcel Michel of Saucy Chick Rotisserie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhea and Marcel Michel.

Hi Rhea and Marcel, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’m Rhea, mom to Kieran, wife to Marcel, daughter of refugees, Neeta and Raj, sister to Shinal Patel Saul, aunt, friend, ally and owner of Saucy Chick Rotisserie.

My mom had a dream to move to the sunshine and palm trees of Cali, so she earned an education, got sponsored by a hospital and we emigrated to the US from Montreal in the 90s, landing in the San Fernando Valley.

I’m Marcel, dad to Kieran, husband to Rhea, son to Mexican immigrants, Sixto and Guillermina Michel. Born in Bellflower, raised in Hacienda Heights and attended Don Bosco Tech in Rosemead.

We are each other’s second chances at love and partnership, we met in 2012, married in 2015.

As working parents, we were at times in a pinch to get a healthy-ish meal that we could center and connect around. Between the 3 of us, we each have different flavor preferences but something we would all generally agree on was chicken. Around 2018/2019-ish, we were mentally toying around with the concept of what does healthy, delicious, with heart and representation look like and hence the idea Saucy Chick Rotisserie came to be (though it was called something different!): scratch-crafted Mexican x Indian rotisserie eats that are approachable, layerable, and interchangeable. And the menu was intentionally designed to showcase the commonalities of our respective cultures and what’s possible when they intertwine.

In 2020 like so many, we were furloughed from our corporate jobs (at Disney) and with time on our hands, decided to give Saucy Chick a shot by asking family and friends if we could feed them for a donation. Neither Marcel or I have any culinary training or formal kitchen experience – but we have a passion for people and food. Additionally, we’ve been privileged enough to experience food as a source of joy and connection, bringing together people and conversation. Some of fondest memories to this day involve memories of gatherings and full plates.

As our furloughs became longer, we were hearing that we were either not going to be called back until 2021 or more likely not at all (Disney went on to let go of 32k employees) so we decided to sign a lease with a new build ghost kitchen complex, Saticoy Kitchen, in NoHo. While it was a quite a distance from home, it was our only option at the time. The very next week, I (Rhea) got called back to work…the kitchen ended up being delayed by six months and Marcel was called back at the end of September. We sadly lost a lot of time, though we know we are not alone on needing to pivot on pivots.

We finally had our soft launch at the end of December only within a couple of months, moved everything to another commercial kitchen that’s closer to our SGV home. As it was, the time and energy we were putting into our weekend craft and deliveries (we do our own deliveries) was taking time away from our son, and every minute counts.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
We feel like pivot is the new dance craze, we all out here doing the Wobble – literally.

The journey has had many plot twists, pivots and steep learning curves.

From sourcing (especially meat during a pandemic when there was a purchase cap) to crafting to packaging, routing to operations, inventory, setting up a website, creating images and art, and so much more – this world is completely new to us. Small businesses have to wear multiple hats and yet try to capture guest interest in the same arena as businesses with capital and more resources. It’s also kinda frightening? To be on a public stage, vulnerable in so many ways (even more so since neither of us are trained chefs or have any formal kitchen experience). We recognize the massive responsibility and pressure to get orders right and deliver an enjoyable experience 100% of the time (which is hard but is a goal). There’s a lot that goes on in the background that Instagram or our smiles don’t show you – there have been countless times we’ve had to think quick on our feet due to something outside of our control. There’s very little time or room to panic. And every time we deliver, we have our hearts on our sleeves, craving feedback – both positive and constructive as we are sincerely hungry to learn, grow and deliver on what our guests want. Smizing and waving at our guests is probably my (Rhea) favorite part, I am hopeful and eager for a connection, each order is deeply personal.

Despite all the bumps, it’s been so incredibly rewarding to connect with the community in such an intimate way. Being invited into the homes and onto the plates of our fellow Angelenos has been nothing short of wondrous, leaving us in gratitude. There are so many options for amazing food and we are in deep gratitude for being chosen. In fact, some guests have actually become friends and furthermore, our kids playing online games together.

As you know, we’re big fans of Saucy Chick Rotisserie. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Saucy Chick Rotisserie brings together Mexican and Indian vibes. We value and believe in relationships and it brings us joy when our guests know us on a first name and personal basis.

Everything is scratch-crafted with heart and integrity. We deliver to the SGV, parts of LA and also offer pick-ups.

We are proud of the level of love and effort that goes into our processes. First, we start off with incredible, reputable product, Mary’s Free Range. The chickens are free-range, nonGMO, antibiotic free, GAP Step 3 certified, born and bred in California, and air-chilled to us.

We hand-brine every chick and set in a scratch-crafted marinade for 24 hours before placing on the rotisserie spit.

Jeera Chick begins with a pretty lengthy process of caramelizing onions, once they are a gorgeous, deep brown, we add fresh ginger, garlic, cumin and cilantro and let all those amazing flavors meld. This recipe is inspired by one of Rhea’s favorite dishes her parents would make for her. Earthy, warm and full of flavor.

Pibil Chick is inspired by one of Marcel’s favorite dishes, Cochinita Pibil, and bursts with notes of citrus, garlic, Mexican oregano and cloves and is naturally crimson due to achiote. It’s Marcel’s favorite and he made sure it was on our wedding menu.

Classic Chick is simple with a feather-soft sweet tamarind finish for those who want something incredibly versatile.

As mentioned, we thought about creating a menu that was approachable, customizable, interchangeable and layerable.

We hand-craft five different sides, including infamous Mom’s Beans (this is where the healthy-ISH comes in), whipped pinto beans with chorizo and cheese, and ever so popular Charred Haldi Cauliflower – turmeric roasted cauliflower, kissed with red chilies and mint and dusted with pistachios (and this is great served hot or cold!).

And while we are rooted in rotisserie chicken, we definitely welcome vegetarians and vegans to the table with Charred Haldi Cauliflower, Jeera Rice bowls/burritos/plates, Kachumber Salad and Mayocoba Beans.

And the saucy in Saucy Chick – we scratch-craft with real, fresh ingredients five different sauces that can each be enjoyed individually or layered for an explosion of flavors. The sauces range from garlicky-herby to sweet to spicy.

We’ve partnered with Tortillas Mejorado to bring our guests the best, uniquley honest flour tortillas in the game. We also carry Siete Foods Cassava Tortillas for guests who prefer a gluten-free and/or vegan option.

Lastly, we have a hand-crafted beverage inspired by Rhea’s favorite childhood drink, falooda. Rhea’s twist includes a kiss of lime to rose-scented organic coconut milk and sweet basil seeds.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Very much good luck. Lucky to have found one another when we did

Lucky to have complementing skills and perspective as a wife and husband team

Lucky to have met amazing folks while Saucy Chick was just a thought but years later were instrumental in helping us navigate this world

Lucky to have met incredible peers in the industry who truly saw us, heard us, took the time to listen and provide a shoulder, provide food for thought and constructive feedback

Lucky to have met gems of humans who not only believe in us but sponsor us by using their platform to share us as well as bringing up our names in the places and spaces we aren’t in and pick us up when we are deep in our feels.

The restaurant life is intense and it’s through heart and collaboration that we can all persevere. All boats rise together. It’s through that mindset that we hope to have longevity enough to build a company that is employee-owned, where we can help build community and generational wealth. But that’s us getting ahead of ourselves. We are focusing on one day at a time.

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Chris Saul Doug Chan-Wing

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