It's all in the genetics; and Poulet Bleu is the only one who has them.
Revered Canadian poultryman, Peter Thiessen, of Abbotsford, BC, spent the years between 1985 and 2003 pursuing his dream to breed a chicken to rival the legendary French Poulet de Bresse. Not just a handsome bird with the iconic bright red comb, perfect white body and steely blue legs, that was the easy part, but a bird that shared the same characteristics that earned the Poulet de Bresse its long-reputed title as the best-tasting chicken in the world.
In 1825, perhaps history's first and greatest Foodie, the 19th century epicure and gastronome Jean Antheime Brillat-Savarin, described the Poulet de Bresse as the "the queen of chickens and the chicken of kings." So revered by the French, in 1957 the Poulet de Bresse became the first livestock to be granted legal protection by the French government by way of appellation d'origine controlée or A.O.C. status. To this day, only two livestock have been granted A.O.C. status by the French government, the second granted was in 2006 to the Agneau de pré-salé, France's Salt Meadow Lamb. An extract from the official French government Poulet de Bresse statute provides:
Bresse poultry has a "melting" flesh, that this flesh is impregnated with fat right into its smallest fibres and that this fat contains the essential part of the savouriness. To be sure that the Bresse Poultry conserves its qualities to a maximum degree, it must be "cooked inside itself." In this way, the greater part of the intra-muscular fat and even the water it contains will remain inside and the chemical reactions caused by the heat, which give the delicate taste, will impregnate the whole bird.
According to Peter Thiessen's son David, his father meticulously cross-bred seventeen different chickens including, it's been rumored, one wild bird, each contributing another piece of the puzzle before he finally achieved his dream of the North American blue foot chicken. A 2005 New York Magazine article entitled Kind of Blue, the authors speak to Thiessen's achievement and to the impact it could have on the landscape of American dining.
If you’ve perused a fancy menu lately, you might pity the plight of the poor chicken. Every other protein, it seems, has been sanctified and name-branded, from Wagyu beef and Copper River salmon to the not-so-humble Berkshire pork. With the rare pedigree exception—a Giannone here, a Cloonshee there—the best a menu writer has been able to muster about chicken was that it was—yawn—free-range.
Thanks to the drive of a Canadian poultry breeder named Peter Thiessen ... chicken’s place in the epicurean pecking order is about to change. A new boutique bird has been clawing its way onto some of the ritziest menus recently, from Per Se to Alain Ducasse, where it's roasted whole, wheeled into the dining room, and displayed like a trophy before it's carved and anoited with jus. The Blue Foot, or Poulet Bleu as it's sometimes called, is a homegrown version of France's mythical poulet de Bresse.
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[A]fter years of trial and error, Thiessen engineered a bird that sent Vancouver’s French chefs into a tizzy[.] … Like its French counterpart, the Blue Foot has a red comb, white feathers, and steel-blue feet—a characteristic so prized that they’re usually left on for tableside presentation. It’s slaughtered later than mass-market birds, and then air-chilled, two factors that contribute to a firmer texture and a slightly gamy flavor. It might be the closest we’ve come to le vrai Bresse—“just as good,” Ducasse’s French-born Tony Esnault diplomatically declares[.]”
Despite the high praise and promising prognostication, shortly after the above article was written North America experienced an Avian Flu outbreak. In response, the Canadian government ordered every single chicken in the country, including Peter Thiessen's entire flock of blue foots, to be eviscerated. His flock now gone, undeterred, Thiessen set back to "rebuild" his flock, however, this time he was armed with the "recipe" and was able to grow a flock of approximately 500 birds in just seven years.
As the result of a close personal relationship that grew over many years between Bernie Nash, Peter Thiessen and Peter's son David, Bernie was able to secure exclusive worldwide rights to hatch, raise, breed, process and sell Thiessen's blue foot chickens in the United States. In 2014 a starter flock of 250 Thiessen blue foot chickens made a historic international boarder crossing from Abbotsford in Northern Vancouver, B.C. to American soil in Washington state.