Mid-July can only mean one thing: Fair season! And what better way to kick things off than with the gregarious ways of Charlie Boghosian (a.k.a Chicken Charlie). While you may know him best for deep fried deliciousness, I'm gonna level with you. Some of his tastiest items aren't even fried. The chicken kebobs and hummus plate is amazeballs, and there's something about a teriyaki chicken bowl served in half a pineapple that sings to me. But without further ado, we give you Charlie.
What is your favorite deep fried item to eat? And what is your least favorite?
My favorite to eat is deep fried Oreos. It was my first invention, and it's amazing. When you dip it in pancake batter and you fry it, the cookie gets chewy and gooey, kind of like a hot fudge brownie sundae. The combination of the pancake and that cookie is just phenomenal. It's one of those things you just have to eat to see.
My least favorite item– One time I invented the Kookie Cookie sandwich: two chocolate chip cookies with cream cheese and raspberry sauce. It wasn't deep fried, and maybe that was the problem.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Seasonings are the secret ingredient. When you're cooking, you get to use a lot of seasonings, and that's how you show your greatness as a cook. You can take people to different countries with how you use those seasonings.
Tells us about your brick-and-mortar in San Diego.
Our restaurant is called Chicken Charlie's FryBQ, where we serve fair favorites and more. I enjoy what I do, but it's only for a few months a year during the summer fair circuit. I wanted to do this all year long, but I didn't want to just serve fair food to people because I grew up cooking, and wanted to share my recipes with people.
Have there been any not-so-successful items to fry?
People ask me that all the time. It's hard to answer because it's a matter of opinion. I'd say marshmallows. It's very hard to fry marshmallows.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Taste your food as you cook. A lot of times, people will cook, but they won't try it themselves. It's really important to taste while you're cooking to ensure the final product is tasty.
Have you invented any deep fried concoctions?
Yes. I've done Deep Fried Kool-Aid. I grew up drinking Kool Aid, and I love it. One day I wondered what it would taste like if I was eating it, not drinking it. Through trial and error, I was able to make it so that it tastes like you're drinking it, only you're chewing on it. I never thought it would get us on Good Morning America or trend to number one, so I was taken by surprise with that.
Favorite places to eat (besides your own).
I always love to try different chicken and waffle houses. And Cajun food; spicy Southern food is my favorite.
Most frequently asked question by guests.
The most-asked question is always "Have you fried …?" and then it's followed by whatever crazy thing they're thinking of.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Fava beans and garbanzo beans, boiled and tossed with a little bit of salt and cumin. Then I add chopped onions and tomatoes. Topped with lemon juice and olive oil. Best breakfast in the world.
Favorite meal growing up:
SPAM. Pita bread, Spam right out of the can and fresh sliced tomatoes.
One food you can't live without and why:
Eggs. I love eggs. I like to fry them and boil them. You can make sandwiches out of them. There's something about yolk that tastes amazing. They're nutritious, full of protein and after all, I am Chicken Charlie. I have put a boiled egg on a stick, dipped it pancake batter that had bacon and sausage in it and fried it. Called it Breakfast on a Stick.
The 2015 OC Fair is open July 17 – August 16 (Wednesday – Sunday). For more information, check out www.ocfair.com.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.