CHEF ANTHONY FRAZIER
“I’m not in the culinary field to be famous, I just want to make really good food”
- Chef Anthony Frazier
I have never felt more at home then I did, when I walked into Social for the first time. It was the classic clock that marks their downstairs entrance that caught my eye. See my husband and I have always felt as if we were supposed to be living in the 1920's era, so when you notice an establishment that mimics the look of a speakeasy, you absolutely go in! Picture vintage coiled lights lining the bar, classic advertizing cascading along the walls, jazz music playing, and the perfect pairing of delicious food and inventive cocktails to complete this incredibly classy ambiance.
STEAK ADOBE EMPANADAS
Spicy Empanadas, Garlic Rosemary Bechamel, Chives
"My earliest memories are helping out my family with cooking. When I entered high school, my mom entered college. I don’t know if I was ever asked, I just remember coming home from school, and my essential job was to cook dinner so my mom and my brother had something to eat when they came home."
I pictured the young Chef Frazier in the kitchen, and smiled as he described how he felt impassioned to care for his mom and younger brother. "Every Friday my Mom would get paid, and the three of us would order a pizza. It was like our weekly treat." Growing up in New York this east coater delighted in one of the true joys in life: hand tossed, super cheesy, oil dripping off the edges, pizza.
"It doesn’t matter what kind it is it's just that you’re taking your pizza, folding it up, shoveling it into your mouth and there’s not a care in the world." - I believe personally that this is why sense memory with food is so important. For me this happens when I hear the sound of Sunday Football. It reminds me of my Mom, and the smell of something delicious cooking in the kitchen. The fireplace would be crackling, good conversation was in abundance, and things just felt simple. I think this is why chefs long for simplicity in the ingredients they are working with too.
"I’m constantly looking at cookbooks to get inspired to make something." Recently, while having the inspiration to make ginger snap cookies, he was gathering all the ingredients together, only to realize that he didn’t have any ginger. He ended up getting out his handy dandy Flavor Bible - which just so happens to be my favorite book of all time - and swapped out cardamom for ginger (because it was listed under the flavor profile of ginger in the book.) "Not only did it work, but it was probably one of the better cookies I’ve ever had!”
It’s 110% or nothing with Chef Frazier. He's feeding a wide range of people, and tends to keep his cooking on a more neutral level when he's at the restaurant. "It’s a tough, tough balance to find. Because you want people to experience the flavor you’re experiencing, but if it’s too spicy, too salty, too sweet, etc., people are just not stoked on it. Not everybody likes Thai food 'Thai spicy.' They're missing out, but not everybody can dig that kind of heat."
Your bloggers husband on the other hand is some kind of bionic man when it comes to heat, and I beg of you Chef, if you find something that really puts some pep in your step feel free to give me a jingle, and we'll be right there!
I had the pleasure of meeting this charismatic, Social chef at the Coloradoan series "Secret Supper." I knew after the first bite that I took of Chef Frazier’s food that he had an inspired palate, which emanates love throughout his dishes. I will also say that due to these intoxicating flavors, I have formulated a brand new hand to mouth workout plan, based upon the need to have Social's Smoked Salmon Pâté every 5 minutes, 7 days a week.
"I want people to choose to go to where I’m working because the food is good. I don’t care if they know who I am, because it’s about the establishment!" - I went on to tell Chef Frazier that this has, by default, already happened to him (thus the Smoked Salmon Pâté tangent I went on earlier). Was I impressed by the flavor profiles of the food, absolutely, but I needed to know more about the person who created such passionate dishes, that inspired my senses.
One expression that stuck with this Social culinarian throughout his career is that "You’re not re-inventing the wheel." He explained, "Everything food wise has already been done. We’ve already paired everything together. Now it’s the way we alter the perception of how it's done. I mean everyone in the kitchen could get the assignment of making bruschetta. They are all going to have different visions of how they want to plate it, but in the end it’s the same thing, the same flavors. We as a whole in society are getting away from that, and very few people know how to cook anymore. We are living in a country where we have more food then what we know what to do with, yet we still have starving people in our own country. It makes me think that a lot of people go to bed hungry simply because they don’t know how to cook."
Part of the reason Chef Frazier decided to go into the culinary field was to try and teach people how easy cooking is. "You know how many mistakes I’ve made? If I had a dollar for every time I failed on a dish, I could have retired!" This is, to me, the number one reason that people don't cook. They are fearful about the way it might turn out, but the truth is no matter how accomplished someone may be, they will still make mistakes. "It's trial and error. If you don’t like the way something turned out, try to figure out what didn’t work, and try it again."
"I went home in August, to upstate New York, and the berry season was just at its peak. We went to the farmers market by my Mom’s house, and got a bunch of fresh produce to make a really awesome salad for everybody." Being that our Social Chef is out of this world in his creative thinking he decided to take market fresh sugar plums and puree them into a vinaigrette! "It was unreal, absolutely unreal. The sweetness of the sugar plums paired perfectly with the acidity of the heirloom tomatoes to create such a nice balance in flavor."
Frazier constantly thinks about what’s going to be in season when he changes up his menu. Sometimes even as far as two, or three, seasons ahead. "Right now im thinking spring early summer items, even when I still have mid winter menu items to change up. I thinks it’s important to think in advance if you’re going to change your menu."
Even with all the planning in the world though, chefs can reach a bit of a 'recipe rut.' Who better to reach out to though then someone who you feel mentors you in life. For Chef Frazier this meant calling Chef Graham Mitchell, who works for Escoffier in Boulder, when he needed a little nudge in the right direction with a new dessert. That's right, by adding the creative flair of his very own almond milk recipe, Chef Mitchell may have had the golden touch in the creation of Social’s Coconut Almond Milk Panacotta. "He’s one of those guys for me that I can call anytime, and talk about anything. Not necessarily cooking, just life in general, you know, a true mentor."
BEARDED & BRILLIANT
"I’m like fried chicken - hard and crispy on the outside, then real tender and moist on the inside. I can be a bit harsh sometimes. I don’t mean to be, it’s just kind of my nature. At the same time I’m really caring, and I want people to feel happiness." – and that joy sure does permeate throughout the walls of this unique hot spot, and it keeps people coming back for more. "I don’t think food necessarily makes the restaurant, as it does add to the ambiance of the whole experience. If your service is terrible, your food is going to reflect that no matter what. You could put Thomas Keller in any kitchen in this town, and if your service is terrible, you are guaranteed a bad yelp review."
Even though Chef Frazier has some tough skin himself, he wanted to stress the importance of knowing that not all chefs are wired this way. “Be conscious of how you say things on social media. A lot of times these chefs are pouring their hearts out for you. You may not like it, but that’s just your own opinion. Keep in mind that what you are reviewing is most likely that chefs entire life, and your words are something that they will have on their mind for a while.”
For all of you, the one thing on your mind now is what an inspiration this chef truly is. Chef Frazier you have the most humble, and focused disposition towards your craft that I have ever seen. I am honored to now know the passion that lies behind that classic Social clock that marks the entrance to culinary bliss!
Spicy Empanadas, Garlic Rosemary Bechamel, Chives Smoked Beef Brisket, Tangy BBQ, Pickle, Blue Cheese Sauce, Sweet Potato Roll