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Life & Work with Betty Fraser

Today we’d like to introduce you to Betty Fraser. 

Hi Betty, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
The catering and restaurant sector were really hard hit by the pandemic, as were many other industries, but the pandemic definitely made us take a look at our industry and changed our direction. After operating our wonderful little restaurant Grub for 20 years, we decided to downsize and turn what was Grub into a very charming and special event space called Hollywood’s Hidden House. It’s such a private and magical oasis that makes you feel very special the moment you walk through the doors. We now do all of our cooking out of this location, and it’s just such a wonderful place to cook and throw a party! It’s a 1920’s converted house hidden in the heart of Hollywood! We’ve started throwing events here and they all have been very unique and special. My wonderful business partner of 25 years, Denise DeCarlo decided to retire and return to Arkansas, so the reins were handed over to myself and our GM, Melissa Fosse Dunne aka Libby. Libby and I have been throwing some amazing events at Hollywood’s Hidden House since the state started allowing gatherings again. We now throw everything from Bachelorette Brunches to Delicious Dinner Parties here, as well as still doing our off-site catering. I’ve also been asked to do some Private Chef jobs, so my cooking continues to feed the wonderful people of Los Angeles, and I feel very blessed to be able to do something that I truly love. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When the government mandates from the pandemic hit, the catering industry was really hard hit. When you go from catering events for 300 down to 10, it’s hard to run a business. Before the pandemic, we were feeding 100 Netflix employees breakfast and lunch 5 days a week as well as our weekend weddings and parties. It was very challenging to make ends meet. We did get to help out, and we offered low-cost meals to our community for the first few months and were able to feed many of the “hospital heroes” that were working so hard. We were very lucky to have our space on Barton Street that we were able to morph into what is now Hollywood’s Hidden House. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As a self-taught chef who began her career because I just loved to cook so much, I feel really lucky. I really believe that life is best when you are able to be in a profession that fuels you. That could be from being a store clerk to a mechanic, we all have something that makes us “tick”. I love that in the Culinary World you don’t have to have spent years at an institute studying; life experience and working your way up in a kitchen is available to anyone who has the desire to learn. Working in restaurants and catering definitely is hard work and long hours, oh, and heavy lifting… but oddly, for me, it doesn’t feel like work because I get so much joy out of it. I will say that having the opportunity to be on Top Chef, especially in the very very early stages of the show opened up so many doors for me. It’s wonderful being invited to do cooking demos at Food and Wine Events and on Television. Just another element of a really fun profession. I also feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to have had our little restaurant Grub. Opening Grub was a fluke, but serendipity exists, and I encourage anyone who has a dream to pursue it, I’m really proud of what we did with Grub, and we started the whole thing with only a 5k bank loan. I guess we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but with hard work and a passion for what you love, dreams really can come true… for anyone. Our Crack Bacon was a star in its own right, being featured at many food events and television shows over the years. There are so many fun “foodies” and influencers out there right now that can make a star out of a bagel, and I thank them because we can only get to so many bagels in our lifetime…I want to know where I can find the best one! 

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
We had such a great team at Grub. Silvia, Jorge, Ignacio, Jeff, Veronica, Dylan…so many great people over the years. When you’re a small business, it’s easy to become a family. I really thank the staff we had there; they were instrumental in making sure the “show went on” every single day. Their fearless leader Melissa Fosse Dunne had a lot to do with that and the employees working hard. She is truly the salt of the earth. 

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Image Credits
Ryan Tanaka
Erin Champion Photography

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