Fred Eric is the chef-restaurateur behind Fred 62 in Los Feliz and Tiara Cafe downtown (as well as a slew of other restaurants, now closed, including Olive, Vida, Liberty Grill and Airstream Diner). And he was one of the standout participants at the L.A. Street Food Fest, which, he says, draws out the competitiveness in him.
Recently he launched a new D’elish “sandwich shop” menu at Tiara Cafe, the whimsical Fashion District restaurant where he’s also serving pizzettes, tartines and farmers market salads to chic downtowners during lunch and hosted the Starry Kitchen pop-up at night.
What’s coming up next on your menu?
While preparing for the L.A. Street Food Fest I developed an easy-to-eat super-taste fireworks-of-flavor summer sandwich. I love participating in the event and being slightly competitive, I like to try to match the other participants’ beautiful food creations. This year I am going with a modified dish that will end up being served at Fred 62 on our new “sandwich shop” menu for D’elish. It was inspired by going to visit the ladies at Lindy & Gundy. Seeing their meat grinder in their walk-in made me go out and get me one for myself. I used the grinder to make soft duck meatballs that are then poached in a duck pho broth and served in a traditional curry sauce, pickled cucumbers, carrots and fresno chiles, topped with crisp fried shallots on a mini in-house baked potato roll.
Latest ingredient obsession?
Fresh turmeric. Used in a simple syrup for adding a flavor profile to some luscious peach lemonade, making a panna-cotta-style ice cream or gelato, or brewing up a fasting broth for an early summer cleanse, this little flavor gem adds a great warmth and spice in so many ways to one’s life and palate.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?
Kagaya. For any occasion. Masa, the chef there makes the most amazing soup, it changes every time. One thing stays the same and that’s its subtle konbu-scented flavoring. The joy of slurping some toro konbu (super-fine shaved dried seaweed that transforms into a silky sensual taste treat from the ocean) I could go on and on about the different ones I have been blessed to have had the pleasure to enjoy.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives?
My smoker at Tiara Cafe! Whether it’s smoking Tahitian squash, tomatoes to make an aioli for D’elish sandwich shop or some animal to make it even more delicious.
What chef has most influenced you?Alain Senderens. I worked with him at Lucas Carlton in Paris. He had a club upstairs at his restaurant on Place de la Madeleine called “Le Cirque.” He would feed his close friends up there. He had me cooking up there, and I learned so much about taste profiles, technique, temperatures of food and textures. By far the most influential chef for me.
Fred 62, 1850 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 667-0062; Tiara Cafe, 127 E. 9th St., Los Angeles, (213) 623-3663. www.tiara-cafe-la.com.