Two weeks ago we went on a hunt for the best L.A.-style soul food that you can't find in a restaurant. Grilled Fraiche didn't make the list, but it should have. We missed the food truck because it was only a few weeks old at the time.
The food truck, which blasts its location on its Instagram and serves Cali-Caribbean rice bowls and giant eggrolls, is the creation of Edwin Redway, aka Chef E Dubble, and partner Marshawn Deon Williams, who goes by “Peace and Love.” Redway is a South L.A.–bred culinary school graduate who cut his teeth with Mark Peel at Campanile before working in comedy club kitchens and starting his own pop-up Sunday dinners and catering business. The 31-year-old has cooked health-conscious soul food for everyone from T-Pain to James Harding, The Game to Drake.
But Redway doesn't like to brag about his high-profile clients. “I'm the people's chef,” he says. “I want the people to try something different.”
Redway, for the most part, runs the truck, which is dishing out brown rice– and quinoa-based bowls that riff on familiar Caribbean comfort food.
Pick a salad or a bowl, choose a protein (grilled salmon, chicken or shrimp), opt for either mixed greens or grilled vegetables, and top the whole thing with one of Grilled Fraiche's three sauces. If you want to go basic, there is the teriyaki, but we urge you to try the two chef's creations.
Redway's ETB Sauce is so called because, according to its inventor, “It makes everything taste better.” The addictive, not-so-secret sauce (for which Munchies posted the recipe earlier this year) is a simple mixture of chipotle chile, honey and garlic that ends up looking and tasting like mae ploy Thai chile sauce but with a smokier kick. Then there's the savory, spiced Antiguan jerk sauce, which is made with coconut milk and veers into Thai curry territory. Each order comes with a fried plantain on the side as a reminder of the food's tropical roots.
The resulting dishes look like something a Westsider would inhale post-yoga, but Redway wants to serve his own community first. Grilled Fraiche usually can be found during dinner hours on Adams between La Brea and Crenshaw in Redway's home turf of West Adams, which aside from the recent addition of Delicious Pizza is a dead zone for good grub.
“Having affordable food options on West Adams, where I come from, is important,” he says, “because everyone might not know where to start when wanting something healthy without sacrificing the taste.”
During a recent lunch shift, the truck was posted on Figueroa and Olympic downtown, where Redway was being interviewed by a film crew from Essence magazine that flew from New York to film a segment on Grilled Fraiche.
He told the interviewer he thinks about the entire experience people are going to have while eating his food, from the plating to the environment. It's a leftover from the days a decade ago when Redway hosted a pay-what-you-can dinner party series for his friends called Monday Night Mixer at his West Adams apartment.
Williams — who was dressed in head-to-toe tie dye — stood outside of the truck, talking customers through the menu and delivering dishes from the window to people sitting in the chairs set up on the sidewalk. Between takes, he dove into the truck to turn on the radio, which is connected to speakers mounted on the outside of the truck. Jamiroquai bumped down the block.
In addition to bowls, Grilled Fraiche serves one of Redway's specialties: egg rolls, which may seem like an odd addition to a Cali-Caribbean lineup until you realize the “Cali” is bringing a heavy Asian influence to the table. They're based on the crunchy, braised cabbage–stuffed egg rolls that Redway made when he was in the kitchen at Comedy Union on Pico.
For dessert, Redway makes a bread pudding that's a crunchy, doughy, cubist caramel dream.
“I'm in no rush to make it big from this,” he says. “We might not be making the most money in our city, but we are building something great. Hopefully one day we can have a brick-and-motor right on West Adams.”