Harlem chef in the running for James Beard Award

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Charles Gabriel's pan-fried chicken is a Harlem staple.

The 71-year-old North Carolina native has been cooking in the neighborhood for more than two decades, and now he's getting some pretty significant recognition in the food world: He is a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for best chef in New York City.

"For us, it's important that a chef be recognized for excellence in what they do and specialize in, whether that be fried chicken or foie gras," said Kris Moon, vice president of the James Beard Foundation.

Just making the cut can help a chef's career, and in the week since the semifinalists came out, Charles has already seen a pop in business. But this is hardly the first time his food has been noticed.

Fourteen years ago, he was featured on Neighborhood Eats. He shared his recipe for collard greens. Watch that clip from the Eyewitness News archives here:
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This Neighborhood Eats segment from May 21, 2004, features Charles' Southern Kitchen in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood.

His recipe for fried chicken is one he keeps a secret.

The semifinalists are narrowed down to five in mid-March. The winners will be announced May 7 at the James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago.

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