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Local restaurateur wins 'Chef Race'

Stan Frazier, A Restaurant investor and former Sugar Ray drummer, trades his sticks for knives in TV cooking contest and wins $100,000.

December 13, 2012|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Stan Frazier, co-owner of A Restaurant in Newport Beach, is the winner of BBC America's food-based reality TV show "CHEF RACE: UK vs. U.S." Frazier is the former drummer of the band Sugar Ray.
Stan Frazier, co-owner of A Restaurant in Newport Beach,… (KEVIN CHANG )

Stan Frazier can't cook in silence.

Depending on his mood, tunes ranging from David Bowie to Slayer and Madonna to Bill Evans can be heard pouring out of his two-story home in Newport Beach.

"I need to have music playing when I'm involved in the craft of cooking because it puts me in such a good mindspace," said Frazier, one of the investors in A Restaurant & Market in Newport. "To me, they go so hand-in-hand that the music player needs to be switched on before I even tie my apron. It's a key element of my process."

Music and food are the two dominant forces that constitute Frazier's personal ethos. Wildly popular for his 25-year stint as rock band Sugar Ray's drummer and principal songwriter, Frazier has now swapped his drumsticks for Japanese knives — his most essential kitchen tools.

Recently, at his wife's urging, the 44-year-old starred on Jamie Oliver's "Chef Race: UK vs. US" and walked away the winner and $100,000 richer. Broadcast on BBC America over 11 weeks, the reality TV show comprises 16 contestants — eight from each country — who face off in a culinary journey that takes them across the United States.

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Frazier, who is involved in structuring the menu and choosing ingredients at A Restaurant & Market but doesn't actually work there as a chef, decided to tough out the TV competition, despite his lack of professional cooking experience.

"The show's audition required that we each bring a dish that represented who we are, and I chose bruschetta — which is a vehicle for flavor and can be served with literally anything in the world," he said. "Since I was afraid that the food would get soggy if prepared beforehand, I took my portable burner and toolbox and began cooking behind my car. The camera crew was right when they called it 'over the top,' but it came straight from the heart. That's what cooking is for me."

Armed with only three spices — Maldon Sea Salt, Herbs en Duxells and Sumac, a 10-inch chef's knife, a paring knife and a sleeping bag, Frazier backpacked and hitched rides from the West Coast to the East Coast in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, relying solely on his culinary ability, business sense and survival skills. A cameraman and other members of the American team accompanied him every step of the way.

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