James Beard Award Possibly Awarded To Harlem’s Fried Chicken King

Harlem’s king of fried chicken could soon be crowned the king of New York. Charles Gabriel, the chef and owner at Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, was named a semifinalist Thursday for a 2018 James Beard Award.

Gabriel is one of 20 semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: New York” award, the foundation announced Thursday. The James Beard awards are known as the “Oscars” of the restaurant industry and are coveted by the nation’s best chefs.

Gabriel was awarded the title “Fried Chicken King” by the New Yorker in a 2014 profile. What makes Gabriel’s chicken special is the preparation. Instead of dumping chicken pieces into a deep fryer Gabriel uses a pan, which requires more attention and energy from the cook, reported the New Yorker.

“When you have chicken in a deep fryer, you cook the flavor out of it,” Gabriel told the New Yorker as he was pan frying chicken. “This here? It can breathe.”

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken isn’t the kind of restaurant that often attracts the attention of the James Beard Foundation. Most of the semifinalist chefs work at some of the city’s trendiest restaurants, whereas Charles’ is a neighborhood spot. The restaurant, located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard near West 151st Street, will stuff its customers with chicken and sides such as macaroni and cheese, collard greens and okra for less than $15.

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