You’re Only As Good As Your Last Performance
Los Angeles’ Edwin “Chef E-Dubble” Redway’s ‘Fraiche’ approach to business.
Edwin Redway has been into art since childhood. Drawing and painting, mostly. But it wasn’t until high school that he realized he could combine his love of art with the art of cuisine.
Redway’s passions have led to a Los Angeles catering business that includes a “Fraiche Signatures”-themed food truck; “Donut Grown Up,” an over-the-top donut shop on wheels; and an 8-year-old executive chef service that counts among its clients comedian Kevin Hart, actresses Angela Simmons and LisaRaye McCoy, and musical artists Ne-Yo, Drake, The Game and T-Pain. Everything operates under his “Fraiche Start” corporate banner.
Incorporating the French word for “fresh” into his company name wasn’t a gimmick. It represents a “reemergence,” as he described it, following a split with a partner with whom he launched a previous restaurant business. Going back further, it also refers to Le Cordon Bleu London. During his junior year at Dorsey High School in south-central Los Angeles, Redway took top honors in a regional cooking competition sponsored by the national Careers through Culinary Arts Program. The scholarship he won paid for a three-week training program at the famed culinary school. (After graduation, he attended Los Angeles Trade-Technical College’s culinary arts program.) It was also during high school that Redway earned the sobriquet “Chef E-Dubble.”
“One of my high school friends gave me the nickname,” explains Redway. “For me, ‘Dubble’ represents the two sides of the culinary industry: visual presentation and flavor profile.” It could just as easily represent the challenges and opportunities of cuisine as both art and business.
By operating out of a food truck, Redway brings his unique style of cooking—think braised short rib tacos drizzled with mango salsa—to a community that might not otherwise afford such nontraditional cuisine. It also saved his business.
“COVID-19 changed everyone’s plans, including mine,” says Redway. “Three days before the pandemic closed down everything, we were ready to sign a lease for a new restaurant. We called off those plans. As it turned out, changing the direction of my business was a blessing in disguise.” It was good fortune that Redway believed in paying forward.
“We did one pop-up location during the first week of the pandemic. It was a hit and we asked ourselves ‘How do we give this back?’” says Redway. What better way than by providing free meals to time-strapped first responders working nonstop shifts helping COVID-19 victims?
To launch the effort, Redway solicited funding and in-kind contributions from the LR Foundation, the Social Collective LA, Southern Girl Desserts and Watts Coffee House. The Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation sponsored care packages—snacks and personal hygiene items—for nurses and physicians.
Within three months, Redway and his standing crew of four chefs and two customer service team members distributed 1,500 free meals and 600 giveaway bags at eight locations, including a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s station and MLK Community Hospital, both in Compton. Describing a visit to one of those health facilities, Redway admits, “It was a jarring sight watching COVID-19 victims being wheeled into the hospital as we were feeding medical workers. But if they can put their lives on the line, we could do the same.”
Fraiche Signatures is now supporting a free meal program for vulnerable seniors living in Los Angeles Councilmember Herb Wesson’s inner-city district.
Standing in stark contrast to the frenzy and near panic that characterized the early months of the pandemic is Redway’s Donut Grown Up, where the menu is nothing short of sinful. A sampling: strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler and Oreo cookie donuts with optional ice cream, M&Ms, Skittles and Cap’n Crunch.
Despite the success he’s enjoyed, Redway has had his share of challenges, not the least of which were the naming and ownership issues behind that breakup with a former business partner. Deciding how to strategically grow his business is another. He envisions a yet-to-be-determined, coronavirus-appropriate outdoor dining experience and, longer term, a dinein restaurant. But that will require doubling current staff and building a team that will meet his high-performance standards.
“Food is an experience. From restocking to cooking to customer service, everyone has to be cross-trained to do the exact same thing in the same way every time because 90% of our business is repeat customers,” stresses Redway. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re an entertainer or a chef, or how long you’ve been in the industry, or how many A-list clients you have, you’re only as good as your last performance.” REDWAY’S SIGNATURE FRIED SALMON AND JASMINE RICE BOWL, DRIZZLED WITH HONEY, GARLIC AND CHIPOTLE SAUCE, AND ACCOMPANIED BY A SIDE OF FRIED PLANTAINS.» WHEN IT COMES TO PLATING A DISH, CHEF E-DUBBLE IS ALL BUSINESS.» CHEF E-DUBBLE’S FAMOUS BREAD PUDDING, FINGER-SIZED.» EDWIN “CHEF E-DUBBLE” REDWAY AND HIS FRAICHE SIGNATURES FOOD TRUCK.»