As Executive Chef and Co-owner of Grub in Los Angeles, Betty Fraser has established the Mecca of “California Comfort Food”, garnering praise since opening in 2001. Betty’s energy and enthusiasm might be best known from being a favorite on the second season of Bravo’s Top Chef and for her return appearances on Top Chef Masters.
On Japanese Knives
Japanese knives have a sleekness about them that really catches the eye. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they have a sharper edge that allows for cleaner cuts. They are made from old traditions that have transcended time. Japanese cuisine focuses on the simplicity and elegance of the ingredients themselves. Many other cuisines work on melding flavors and blending new ingredients to create something that is surprising and unique to your palate. Japanese cuisine celebrates the singularity of a gorgeous piece of toro or a simple enoki mushroom. That simplicity of functionality is reflected in their knives. It is their truth of substance that is the beauty of a wonderful piece of equipment that a chef has in their arsenal. Every day I go into my kitchen and the first thing I grab is my knife roll, I open it up and I examine my knives. I care for them and in turn they make my job a joy to perform. They make it possible for me to create.
On Being a Chef
It was the element of creativity that really drew me to beIng a chef. The act of creating something wonderful out of a few simple ingredients…it was magical and I loved it. I have been working in the restaurant business for over 30 years. I remember my first restaurant job, as I stood in the middle of the kitchen a voice inside me spoke, “this is home”. It’s not always an easy profession, but it is ALWAYS rewarding in countless ways. I feel very lucky to do what I do. In my life, if I’m not having a good time, I need to rethink my what I am doing because It is too short not to enjoy it. I love coming in and creating and I try to have fun as I stay focused. The excitement of feeding 500 people food that I made is truly thrilling.
The Culinary Landscape
As a woman I am very proud to be in this field. The landscape is changing and we are seeing more and more talented women becoming Executive Chefs. It truly is an amazing profession. It requires talent, focus, and drive, and when it is done right it is creative and sexy. This is a job that is a true extension of yourself.
I recently came back from Spain, Italy and France. I was on fire with inspiration to create the dishes and flavors I had experienced. I love all kinds of cuisines, especially “the how and why” that make a dish so instrumental to a particular country. Is it the ingredients and traditions that forge a cuisine, or is a part of religion or necessity? Every country has their very own “comfort food”. At Grub we do our version of Comfort Food from our lives. We love when our customers come in and enjoy what we have created, it is why I became a chef.