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Food for thought: Northern Chicken

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Northern Chicken has been a jewel in the downtown area for four years now. It is a queer-owned business serving up southern-style comfort food that has been satisfying appetites and warming hearts.

When owners and chefs Matt Phillips and Andrew Cowan, who had both previously worked in fine dining, decided to open Northern Chicken, they knew they wanted to make great fried chicken in a fun work environment that was employee-centred, says Phillips. “We were tired of working at places that just weren’t our vibe … it really can from a dream of opening a fried chicken place, but also one that was employee-focused.”

That is precisely what they did. Phillips and Cowan have always paid their staff above minimum wage and pooled tips so that everyone gets a fair share. They also offer staff benefits. This has made for an environment with minimal turnover. Phillips says, “our turnover rate is almost nonexistent, and if it has existed it’s people that have moved on to, I want to say bigger and better things like big boy jobs and big girl jobs. Sort of like finish university and take the engineering job or move along to be the chef of a restaurant somewhere else.”

Over the pandemic, Northern Chicken donated meals to hospitals and healthcare workers. “My best friend is a nurse, and Andrew’s mom is a nurse, so immediately before even the lockdown happened, we were starting to do deliveries to hospitals,” Phillips says. After AHS restrictions stopped Northern Chicken’s deliveries of donated meals, Northern Chicken teamed up with ATB, who matched their contribution of $5,000 for a total of $10,000 in food discounts that were given out to any health care worker that could provide ID. “It only lasted four days because we had such a crazy response to it, but we ended up doing … 916 orders for just over 10 grand in discounts, we were offering 40 per cent off,” says Philips.

Impressive ethics aside, Northern Chicken’s food is fantastic. The fried chicken is crispy even after driving home with it, and flavourful beyond the batter. Unlike most fried chicken, whose flavour is contained in the delicious, crunchy, batter-covered skin, this chicken tastes excellent right down to the moist, well-seasoned meat. You can get the chicken in different levels of heat, either on its own or in a sandwich served between two slices of Texas toast with coleslaw and pickles that will leave you wanting more. The Dorito mac and cheese is creamy with the right amount of cheese and crunch, courtesy of the crumble of chips sprinkled on top.

If that doesn’t persuade you to try their food, then the crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside cornbread might put you over the edge. With several other options on hand, it shouldn’t be challenging to find something that will pique your interest. If you are searching for low-calorie, you won’t find it here, but I can confirm you won’t go home hungry. The greatest part is that it isn’t too costly to eat there, either — a meal for three costs just under $50. The dinner includes a three-piece chicken meal, chicken sandwich, mac and cheese, cornbread, coleslaw, and chicken fingers.

Its location makes it easily accessible to students living near MacEwan University, and they offer pick-up and delivery through DoorDash and Uber Eats.

10704 124 Street Edmonton, AB T5M 0H1

Hours:

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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