Neal Fraser

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Neal Fraser (born 1969) is a Los Angeles based chef and restaurateur.[1]He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and worked in the kitchens of chefs including Joachim Splichal, Wolfgang Puck, Hans Rockenwager and Thomas Keller before he and his business partner, Amy Knoll Fraser, started their own restaurants, Grace and BLD. After their initial openings, the couple began a multi-year project to open their flagship restaurant, Redbird, in 2015, adjacent to Los Angeles’ first Archdiocese Catholic cathedral-turned-event-space, Vibiana, also owned and operated by the Frasers.[2][3] Neal Fraser and his restaurants have been highlighted as part of Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurant list, Time Out’s Best Restaurant Bar Program and Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants in the United States.[4] Fraser has also been featured on television shows including Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters, Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen and Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Beat Bobby Flay.[5]

Early Life & Career

Neal Fraser was born in Hollywood, California in 1969 and grew up in the Hollywood Hills. He frequented Los Angeles’ Eastside with his mother, where he was exposed to a unique blend of the neighborhood’s flavors that later influenced his own approach to cooking.[3] He recalls memorable meals with his godfather that introduced him to the foods that would become more familiar to him later in his career. After graduating high school, Fraser moved to San Francisco to pursue his passion for cycling before returning home to Los Angeles. Despite having no prior restaurant experience, Fraser secured a job at Caioti in Laurel Canyon before moving on to work as a line cook at Wolfgang Puck Eureka in Santa Monica.[2][6]Fraser later attended the The Culinary Institute of America|Culinary Institute of America, where he gained the skills to work in the kitchens of Joachim Splichal Pinot Bistro, Wolfgang Puck Spago, Hans Rockenwager’s Rox and Thomas Keller Checkers.[2][6][3]

Fraser continued his career in Los Angeles restaurants throughout the 1990s at Boxer and Rix.[1] While working as executive chef at Rix in Santa Monica in 1997, Fraser met his future wife, Amy Knoll, then the restaurant’s assistant general manager.[2][7] Fraser then worked at Jimmy’s in Beverly Hills before ultimately starting his own restaurant, Grace, in 2003 with Knoll Fraser, by then his business partner and wife. Following the success of their first venture, in 2006 the team opened BLD on Beverly Boulevard, and later Fritzi Coop and El Granjero Cantina at the Farmer’s Market and BLD at LAX.[6][8]

In 2014, Fraser and Knoll Fraser opened their flagship restaurant Redbird in the former Vibiana Cathedral in Downtown Los Angeles.[9]Fraser and Knoll Fraser were first introduced to Vibiana in 2008 when they were hired to cater an event at the venue and discovered that the property owner, Gilmore Associates, was looking for a restaurant to occupy the rectory building.[7] The couple took over both Vibiana and the rectory building in December 2012, and after six years of construction with the help of designer and friend, Robert Weimer, opened their flagship restaurant Redbird with an indoor and outdoor dining room, a 24 person wrap-around bar through both spaces and later five private dining rooms and a secret garden; multiple kitchens are equipped to handle all of the in-house food and beverage for Vibiana too.[10][3][11] In 2019, Redbird and Vibiana received the Los Angeles Conservancy|Los Angeles Conservancy’s 2019 Preservation Award Chair’s Award for its creative and adaptive reuse of the property.[12]

Beyond his work at Redbird and Vibiana, Fraser continues to cook at dinners off-site, including Outstanding in the Field, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival|Coachella, Burning Man and the Greek Theatre (Los Angeles)|Greek Theatre.[13][14][15][16]

Philanthropic Work

Fraser serves on the board of L.A.’s Best, which brings elementary school students to the Redbird garden for after school visits. He and Knoll Fraser host an annual event called Beefsteak at Vibiana, with proceeds going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.[10] Fraser also employs his cycling skills by participating in Chef’s Cycle, an annual event supporting No Kid Hungry.[4]

Television Appearances[5]

  • Hell's Kitchen (American TV series), Guest Judge, 2014-2021
  • Top Chef Junior, Guest Judge, 2018
  • Meals Ready to Eat, Featured Chef, 2017
  • The Talk (talk show), Guest, 2015
  • Beat Bobby Flay, Competitor, 2014
  • Knife Fight (TV series), Contestant, 2013
  • Top Chef Masters, Contestant, 2013
  • After Hours with Daniel Boulud, Guest, 2007
  • Iron Chef America: The Series, Challenger, 2006

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kuh, Patric (2015-05-06). "The Kuh Review: Redbird Los Angeles Magazine". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 December 11, Matthew Seukunian /; 2017 (2017-12-11). "Neal & Amy Fraser's Redbird and Vibiana in DTLA | CSQ Magazine". CSQ | C-Suite Quarterly. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Redbird". LA Downtowner. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Neal Fraser". Modern Adventure. 2020-08-20. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Neal Fraser". IMDb. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Neal Fraser". Bravo TV Official Site. 2013-05-21. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Redbird". Garrett Leight. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  8. Elliott, Farley (2020-01-07). "Neal Fraser partners on new Mexican cantina at the Original Farmers Market". Eater LA. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  9. Kang, Matthew (2015-11-19). "Neal and Amy Knoll Fraser on Redbird's first year in Downtown Los Angeles". Eater LA. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "How Neal Fraser Cooks 675 Pounds of Steak for 600 Guests at L.A.’s Beefiest Blowout". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  11. Kim, Eddie. "Tips From the Party-Planning Experts: Amy Knoll Fraser of Vibiana". Los Angeles Downtown News - The Voice of Downtown Los Angeles. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  12. "Historic buildings shine as the Los Angeles Conservancy announces its 2019 Preservation Award Winners". Archinect. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  13. "Outstanding in the Field along the L.A. River | Restaurants in Los Angeles". Time Out Los Angeles. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  14. magazine, Los Angeles (2017-04-03). "The Coachella Food Lineup is Here, and You'll Recognize a Lot of These Acts Los Angeles Magazine". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  15. "Your Ultimate Guide To June: 20 Cool Events Happening In Los Angeles". LAist. 2017-06-01. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  16. Elliott, Farley (2019-04-04). "Redbird's Neal Fraser steps in to handle food at the Greek Theatre this season". Eater LA. Retrieved 2021-10-01.

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