The LA Beat Talks with Chef Neal Fraser about Face Forward’s Charity Gala Happening this Saturday

havana-nightsOn Saturday evening, Face Forward’s Seventh Annual Charity Gala themed “Havana Nights” comes to the gorgeous Vibiana event space downtown. Starting at 6pm, guests will enjoy Cuban inspired cuisine by Top Chef Master Neal Fraser, cigar lounge, mojito bar, conga drums, and a live concert by Nelly, whose megahit “It’s Getting Hot in Herre (So Take off all Your Clothes)” won a Grammy in 2003.

A number of celebrities will be in attendence, walking the red carpet and mingling with guests. Laker Byron Scott, Pamela Anderson, Adina Porter of “American Horror Story” and “True Blood,” Lotte Verbeek of “Outlander,” and professional boxer Shane Mosley will be amongst the stars there to support the cause.

Face Forward’s mission is “to support those physically affected by domestic violence and human trafficking. Founded in 2007, Face Forward provides pro bono reconstructive surgery for victims of severe domestic abuse with funds raised supporting travel, aftercare and additional associated costs. Face Forward empowers survivors to leave behind physical scars and stigmas to ‘Face Forward’ to an infinite future.” Buy your tickets here!

Check out our interview with celebrity chef Neal Fraser as we get a sneak peek at the event, the menu and the decor, after the break.

Chef Neal Fraser of RedbirdYou will be cooking for Face Forward’s Seventh Annual Charity Gala at Vibiana on the 24th. We have noticed that you contribute a lot of time and resources to a variety of charities. Could you tell us a little bit about Face Forward, and why you chose to work with this particular organization?

We host charity events at Vibiana all the time, and it’s always important for us to learn about their cause.  Face Forward works with different community leaders and organizations to identify victims of violence who are working toward recovery and who carry the physical evidence of past abuse and help them in different ways. It’s an honor to work with and align with an organization such as this.

The theme for the Gala this year is “Havana Nights,” and the invitation promises Cuban-inspired food. What is your experience with Cuban food?

Mainly just eating it. I’ve never actually been to Cuba but I love Latin flavors and use a lot of them in my cooking.

What types of Cuban ingredients or cooking techniques will you use that are not part of your usual repertoire?

We had a lot of fun with this menu. You’ll see things like Fried Plantain with Mojito Dipping Sauce, Ropa Vieja style Short Rib, and Turrónes y Chocolate – Devils Dood, Coconut Cream for dessert, all my takes on classic Cuban dishes.

Do you have a favorite Cuban restaurant in LA?

Versailles is my favorite and they have two locations one on Venice Blvd. in Culver City and one in LA on La Cienaga.

The Vibiana event space is gorgeous and known for its stunning transformations for weddings and parties. Do you have any inside info on the decor for the gala?

Taking a cue from the ‘Havana Nights’ theme, you’ll see rich tobacco colors, deep red, brass and lots of gold.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Chef. Have a fantastic event!

And for our readers, here is a little Nelly to get you pumped for Saturday:

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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