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Neal Fraser on StarChefs

CHEF NEAL FRASER
GRACE
7360 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
323-934-4400

Biography »

Interview:
Antoinette Bruno: Why did you begin cooking? What sparked your interest?
Neal Fraser: When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at my friend Ben Ford’s house. His mom, Mary, was an extraordinary cook. She was the first person who I saw cook something more than Hamburger Helper®. Instead, she would cook dishes like braised chicken in a pot and other dishes considered gourmet at the time. I was intrigued.

AB:Who influenced your cooking? Why?
NF: After graduating from culinary school, I externed at Checkers with Thomas Keller. Mark Ferriani and Joachim Splichal were also big influences in my culinary career. I worked for Mark on and off for years; he helped lift my career off the ground.

AB: What is your favorite culinary book? Why?
NF: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. He answers questions that don’t make sense. It’s like a bible and I refer to it often. It has all the answer and I like the scientific layout. Simple Cuisine by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. This was his first book. I like how he uses intense flavors. It’s different than all other cookbooks that came out at the time.

AB: What are your favorite ingredients?
NF: Scallops. They are light and easy to cook without a lot of prep work. They have great flavor too.

AB: What is your most indispensable cooking tool?
NF: A fish spatula

AB: What do you look for when interviewing line cooks for your restaurant?
NF: Attitude is the determining factor in how you fit into the puzzle. I run a democratic and open kitchen. I’m not interested in career line cooks. I want those that I can inspire. Once you have your fundamentals, it’s your style that makes the difference.

AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential line chef?
NF: I don’t have a specific question that I like to ask. I just want to hire people that want to grow. Most of the people in my kitchen right now are greener than most, but I can tell that they are willing to work hard and learn. Right now, the guy who’s working that grill is straight out of culinary school!

AB: Where do you see yourself in five years?
NF: Doing what I’m doing now at a higher level and achieving more success.


 

NEAL FRASER
Grace | Los Angeles, CA

As an avid cyclist, Neal Fraser’s high school yearbook quote reads “Tour de France or bust!” Though Fraser is no Lance Armstrong, he has certainly kept a fast pace ahead of the rest in the kitchen. Since the age of 20, when Fraser realized his true calling was to be a chef, he headed to the Culinary Institute of America and then landed stints working with culinary greats such as Wolfgang Puck and Joachim Splichal. Years later, inspired to open up his own restaurant, Fraser opened up Grace. Named after his daughter, Fraser’s American bistro uses only the freshest and best quality ingredients. This former cyclist turned executive chef knows what it takes to stay on top of his game.


Dungeness Crab Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Chef Neal Fraser of Grace – Los Angeles, CA
Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 ServingsDungeness Crab Salad on StarChefs

Ingredients:

    Meyer lemon syrup
  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar


  • Lemon vinaigrette
  • 2 Meyer lemons, squeezed and juiced
  • 4 ounces grape seed oil
  • 4 ounces lemon syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar


  • Basil oil
  • 3 ounces fresh basil
  • 3 ounces grape seed oil
  • Pinch of salt


  • Crab salad
  • 2 ounces frozen green peas, thawed to room temperature
  • ¼ ounce mint, julienned
  • ¼ ounce Thai basil, julienned
  • 8 ounces Dungeness crab meat
  • Lemon vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Medium ring mold to form crab salad
  • 1 ounce mixed microgreens
Method:

For the Meyer lemon syrup:
Combine ingredients in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Reduce lemon juice and sugar by half, or until it has reached a sauce-like consistency. Reserve for vinaigrette.

For lemon vinaigrette:
Combine 4 ounces of Meyer lemon syrup and 4 ounces of grape seed oil with the lemon juice. Add the rice wine vinegar to taste and balance with more oil if necessary.

Chef’s note: Because the acidity of the lemons will vary along with the vinegar, you will need to balance by tasting.

For basil oil:
Blanch basil in boiling salted water for 20 seconds and then remove and shock in ice water. Wring out the water. In a blender, combine basil and grape seed oil and a pinch of salt. Put puree in a stainless steel saucepot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the puree to steep. Strain through a cheesecloth. Reserve.

For crab salad:
Combine first 4 ingredients and lightly toss with vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place ring mold onto serving bowl. Pack crab mixture down into the ring mold, then gently remove the ring. Sprinkle top with microgreens and garnish bowl with more of the vinaigrette and basil oil.

 Published: Feb 2004

  

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