With a resume like his it's no wonder that Neal Fraser has critics and diners swooning over their meals at Grace, the contemporary American restaurant in Los Angeles where he's chef/owner. He got his start working the line at Wolfgang Puck's old Eureka Brewery and Restaurant, then entered the Culinary Institute of America in 1990. Fraser spent time cooking with David Burke in New York City, then came back to his native California for gigs at Thomas Keller's Checkers, Joachim's Splichal's Pinot Bistro, and Puck's Spago—all line cook jobs. He made the big jump to chef/owner at the 50-seat Boxer ("appealingly assertive creations"—Zagat) and then was executive chef at Rix in Santa Monica. At Grace, Fraser's food "throbs with flavor," says Gourmet magazine.
Boy, it must be a challenge to make a meal out of what we see in this fridge.
We cook here a little bit, but haven't had use of the kitchen for the past two weeks. Our apartment's being repainted.
So you're giving the place a makeover?
Sort of. We've only been in here for a couple of months.
What other work have you done?
We retiled the kitchen and replaced the appliances.
What kind of cooking gear did you get?
GE Profile. It's the high end of the low end of their line.
They look good. How well do they work?
They're nice. But we haven't entertained, or even made dinner on them yet.
We see eggs. You must cook breakfast.
Sometimes we have bacon and eggs. Often it's cereal—the healthier cereals. My wife buys them and I eat them.
Healthy cereals such as...?
Spelt flakes, oatmeal. Like that.
You can't get much healthier than a bowl of spelt flakes and soy milk. Who's taking these vitamins?
Those are prenatal vitamins for my wife.
When is she due?
Congratulations! You can celebrate with this Kripta cava you're holding. Where did you get it?
I made two food-related trips this summer. This cava came back with me from Spain.
Did you snag other great products there?
Some, but Spain was more about techniques for me.
What was the other trip?
I went to New Zealand. That one was more about products than cooking techniques.
John Dory, venison, elk, lamb. Also, paua—that's abalone.
You use them here at home?
No, it's all flown in fresh for the restaurant. I do keep New Zealand coffee here.
What kind ?
It's Emporio, roasted in Wellington. It's really nice if you French press it.
So you fire up some morning coffee and then tackle the commute to work?
Coffee, yes. But I usually ride my bike to and from work. It takes me about 15 minutes.
Who's the contented cat?
This one is Waifa. We have a second cat, but it won't hold still for your photographer.
So is everything set for the new baby?
We think so. We've finished painting a room for her. It's going to be a girl. We're going to name her Roan.
That's a beautiful name. Good luck.