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From Market to Menu: An Interview With Chef Neal Fraser

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By Eli Sussman/Special to LAist

Chef Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD believes the art of cooking needs daily cultivation. Even if he has 10 restaurants, he will always be exactly where he wants to be - in the kitchen. As an LA native he has “a personal vendetta” to elevate LA into the echelon of the best restaurant cities in the world. With the development of a new Grace like fine dining restaurant downtown that will grow at least a third of the produce on site, and a new BLD slated to open in Pasadena early next year, Chef Fraser shows no signs of leaving the kitchen. LAist caught up with the busy chef at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market (as he bought green beans for his daughter) to provide details about moving Grace to downtown, the struggle of when to pull a dish from the menu and how he is inspired by Wonderbread.

LAist: What do you look for in produce at the Farmer’s market?

Fraser: I look at these squash and they are beautiful. Maybe it’s a little early for roasted squash soup…but looking towards fall, whenever a season is changing you are thinking, what am I going to buy…what is next… And that is definitely something I always look for - squash and beets and some of the heartier greens.

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Tell us what you bought today.

I bought some green beans for my daughter because my daughter’s favorite food is green beans. These radishes are for a hamachi dish. The potatoes I bought from Windrose farms. I’ll probably make some sort of puree and serve it with a chicken dish tonight.