Vern Lanegrasse Interview
(The Hollywood Chef)
His name is Vern Lanegrasse, but you may know him as The Hollywood Chef.
Mr. Lanegrasse hosts his own national radio talk show, "Cooking with
The Hollywood Chef and a syndicated TV show called, what else, "The
Cooking has been good to Vern Lanegrasse as he's traveled the world as a
spokesman and lecturer.
His cooking classes in the Los Angeles area, at Long Beach City College and
at Loyola Marymount have always been sold out.
He is a member and past Vice-President of the Southern California Wine Writers
Vice Commander for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Brotherhood of the Knights
of the Vine. He belongs to twelve French Wine Brotherhoods. He is Past President
of the California Restaurant Writers Association.
In 1989, Mr. Lanegrasse received the prestigious Chevalier du Merite Agricole
Award, presented by Jean-Louis Rysto, France's Deputy Consul general in Los
Q. Mr. Lanegrasse, are you the only chef in Hollywood
who is referred to as "The Hollywood Chef?" Is that a licensed
trademark for you?
A. Yes, Hollywood Chef is a licensed trademark. I am the one and only. The
Hollywood Chef is a radio and TV show as well as a syndicated column.
Q. What qualities or talents must a person have to truly be considered a
A. If you are planning a career to be a chef in your own restaurant or in
someone else's kitchen, be prepared to work hard. You have to love your work.
You must be inventive and keep up with the trends. And, surround yourself with
the best on line and back up crew possible.
Q. Because your family is so involved in the bakery business, did cooking
and baking come naturally to you? Was it effortless on your part? With
that background, did you have an advantage?
A. Yes. It was a plus for the Lanegrasse family being in the bakery business.
My father was an excellent French chef. He began cooking under the tutelage
of a cousin at an early age. My mother only knew how to fry, bake, or boil
when she married. My father taught her to cook his way. Growing up, I thought
everyone ate as we did. I didn't know how lucky we were until I was older.
Q. Did you attend one of those culinary institutes? Did you ever apprentice
or study under another chef somewhere before you became recognized as
A. I never took a lesson in my life. I have worked briefly with many famous
chefs. I'm a quick learner. I have taken special classes in Chinese Cuisine.
In fact, I went to the International Cooking School in Shanghai. I also took
classes in Hong Kong.
Q. You were quite successful early on with your singing career. Why did you
not pursue that any further?
A. I wanted to be an opera and concert tenor. Due to the lack of funds, I
turned to acting and musical comedies. I was a saloon singer on Bourbon
Street for several years. Then came TV and I wanted to learn the new medium.
Q. You were an executive for a time with NBC. What time was that and what
were your job duties?
A. I was at NBC in the 50's when TV was fun, and interesting as well as entertaining.
I started as a page
and worked up the ladder. I was supervisor over the page and tour staff as
well as the ticket distribution.
Q. Being from New Orleans, did that give you any type of advantage in the
world of cooking? Were you exposed to more foods and more ways to prepare foods
than say someone in Des Moines, Iowa for example?
A. Being from New Orleans was a definite plus. I was surrounded by good chefs
all my life. My family entertained a lot. My father was good with appetizers.
My mother was a great cake baker, as well as cookies and pies. She made our
own fruit cake for years. I haye the recipe. You can be raised anywhere. If
you travel a lot, and are willing to try different foods, you will develop
a palate. I usually can taste a dish and know the ingredients.
Q. What do you like about your job? What's the best thing about being the
A. I love people. I travel a lot doing demonstrations and food endorsements.
Locally (in Hollywood, California), I am very well known. Besides developing
recipes for food companies, I appear on local TV and radio shows frequently.
I review restaurants on radio and write a weekly column about my food and wine
and travel experiences.
Q. These days, does Vern Lanegrasse work in the kitchen of a major restaurant
as a chef? What do you do with yourself?
A. I have never worked full time in a restaurant. I have been a guest chef
all over this country in restaurants and private clubs. I enjoy lecturing
and giving demonstrations. I never get tired of traveling. To be in a kitchen
full time in a restaurant would be too confining for me. I cook a complete
meal every day of my life. I also do a lot of baking. This gives me things
to write and talk about. I hardly ever cook the same thing more than three
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