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Rarely does a reality cooking show inspire as much hoopla as a howling Super Bowl party. In a tiny clubhouse behind A Restaurant in Newport Beach, former Sugar Ray drummer Stan Frazier cheers with loudmouthed friends and family plopped on leather couches and any available piece of open carpet. His eyes fix on a giant HD TV, staring at a grill fire, chilled soups and dainty garnishes as though he's watching a fourth-and-goal touchdown attempt. Most important, he's watching himself onscreen, lining up against world-class restaurateur Cody Utzman in the final round of Season 1 of Jamie Oliver's Chef Race: U.S. vs U.K. And he's kicking ass, culinary-style.
A rowdy Team Frazier hurls taunts at Utzman from the peanut gallery. "You're going down, Cody! Not your day, bro!"
When he was announced the winner, Frazier kissed his wife, Jennifer, and reached for an overhanging beam and started swinging like a monkey.
Last month, the Chef Race finale aired on BBC. Sitting back in his OC hometown, Frazier celebrated the win during an A Restaurant viewing party sponsored by local companies such as Karma Tequila. But aside from winning $100,000 and bragging rights, the 44-year-old drummer walked away with the career path he's wanted for as long as he can remember.
"I was going to go to culinary school or play drums in a band. The drum thing worked out pretty good for me," Frazier says as he puffs on a clove cigarette outside the party. "But I always had a demon in my back pocket saying, 'Go try culinary.'"
After years of learning to cook at home (a skill he'd picked up from his father, an Air Force pilot), this foray into celebrity chefhood came in the form of a Craigslist ad his wife discovered during a job search. It read, "Do You Like Survivor? Do You Like Cooking? Are You a Foodie? Are You a Chef?" She immediately showed it to Frazier.
At the time, he'd been itching to bow out of Sugar Ray and explore new options. Outside of producing a new record for Huntington Beach's the Dirty Heads, the longtime food enthusiast was jumping at the chance to become a real chef. Why not do it with a reality show? The show's producers auditioned 13,000 people across the U.S. and England to find 16 contestants—eight Americans, eight Brits—to compete in traveling food challenges from LA to New York over 12 weeks. After auditioning, Frazier was convinced he wouldn't get picked. After all, he had zero formal training. Chopping up his snare beats on songs such as "Some Day" and "Fly" didn't count.
Surprisingly, he got the call to cook his style of fresh California and Mexican cuisine, plus plenty of other crazy shit. Of course there were the usual trials: squabbles with cast members, getting his skills picked apart every week, the task of cooking an entire goat head to the liking of Michelin-starred chef/judges such as Richard Corrigan.
As the show progressed, Frazier says he continued to learn and elevate his style. The light ceviche he made in the final cook-off was actually the heavy hitter that put him over the top with the judges.
Since the show wrapped, Frazier has a few ideas about capitalizing on his new rock-star-chef status, including developing a—surprise—reality cooking show, Chop and Roll. It would involve Frazier spontaneously taking over cooking duties, either catering or in the kitchen, for big-name celebs and recording artists. "Basically, it's Cribs and Punk'd with food," he says. The perfect pairing, in his mind, as which two things are more similar than cooking a meal and writing a song?
"It's the same damn thing," Frazier says. "It's like an artist with a blank canvas. Unless you're baking a specific cake that has to have exact ingredients. I don't cook like that. So it's synonymous as a motherfucker."
This article appeared in print as "Damn! That Drummer Boy Can Cook! Ex-Sugar Ray member Stan Frazier shares his recipe for success after winning Season 1 of Chef Race: U.S. vs. U.K."