You know Abel Gonzales from his annual stint at the Texas State Fair as the Fried Food King. In 2015 he cranked out a plethora of fried lobster with a side of champagne gravy. In 2004, he won with the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in 2005 with Fried Coke, in 2006 with fried cookie dough, in 2008 with deep-fried butter, and in 2011 with Fried Jambalaya. He is also called the Fried Jesus.
We visited with Gonzales recently because we were tipped off about his extreme tamale and posole making. Come to find out that the chef has a kitchen on Ross Avenue where he has been catering weddings and a vast array of parties. The kitchen itself is massive and larger than many hotel kitchens I have seen. I was thinking he might be catering up Fried Jambalaya, but actually the man can cook like a maniac.
“We had this kitchen sitting idle for a year. We originally got the kitchen to cook out of for the fair, but needed to use this space for more culinary events. I have the culinary background, and haver been doing this all my life. I just needed to get away from the television and do it,” said Gonzales.
Wait. Was the State Fair his only gig? Yes. Yes it was. There’s money in those fried things we enjoy for thirty days each year. For five years he did nothing but the fair. “It was like a vacation for eleven months, but you tend to age quickly sitting around, if you even get out of bed,” he continued.
Gonzales tells us that he can pretty much make any occasion work. For weddings he will consult with the bride and see what type of catering she has in mind, then simply does it. If he needs to work with another chef to make it happen, he will.
Then he has these tamales and posole he has been doing this holiday season strictly from people he already knows and from his personal Facebook page. If you follow Gonzales you will see him racing cross town t6o deliver his goods, almost like the bronze Santa that he really is.
To make that picture of Gonzales more complete, know that he is all about giving this time of year as well. He has his friends “nominate” families that he can cook for. For those families in need Gonzales will make a complete holiday dinner at no charge. “We are talking the whole meal deal. Rolls, yams, pies, ham. A complete dinner.” He was actually busy making those dinner during our visit and the kitchen smelled delicious of Christmas. It was the ham gravy.
Each year Gonzales reaches out via social media for families who are struggling. Maybe they can afford a meal, but then the children go without toys. Or as in the case this year, veteran families that he was put in contact with via the Veterans Administration who will enjoy one of these special dinners instead of simply going without. This in addition to the other families he is helping. It is a blessing to behold.
I was thinking this is what all the lobster money does for the city, but he has also taken in cash from people who want to help. These folks can write a check and allow the chef to work his Christmas miracle. This special holiday cheer is growing steadily each year, and Gonzales may even do a GoFundMe for those wishing to help out next year. This is an amazing effort that will surely grow.
As for the 2016 State Fair, Gonzales said that he won’t event think about that until the Spring. So no fried foreshadowing at this time, but you can be assured that this imaginative chef will have something that will bend your arteries for a month and put a happy smile on your face. That is just what this man does.
Message Abel Gonzales at his business Facebook page Vandalay Industries to book your next catered event.