Star-a-Day: Tregaye Fraser

Get to know Tregaye Fraser, a finalist on Food Network Star, Season 12.
Food Network Star, Season 12

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Tregaye Fraser.

A seasoned chef who likes to twist old-fashioned recipes with her own unique flair, Tregaye, 31 (Atlanta), has a passion for the untraditional. She learned the basics at Le Cordon Bleu, but she soon realized that her love for cooking came from her youthful soul and love for fusion cuisine. A successful self-employed mother who relates best to a younger generation, Tregaye dreams of having a culinary talk show.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Tregaye Fraser: Whimsical soul food
Who are you most intimidated to be working with, Bobby or Giada?

TF: Giada's a tough cookie. I didn't think it would be her. I thought it would be more Bobby, but I think Giada makes me a little nervous.

If you could ask one of them to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?

TF: Maybe their mannerism. Listen, I am a character. This is my everyday. This is how I am. My husband told me maybe I should tone it down when I come out here, but that's who I am. So I think that I would get from them how to kind of find that balance between who I am and not come out so hard on people. I got to ease my personality on some people.

What one thing do you really want to convey to the mentors about who you are?

TF: I am really a whimsical soul food chef. I like to take everyday foods and take them into something fun and awesome — somethings you may have heard of, somethings you may not have heard of. And I really like to teach people, because I'm a caterer, how to have fun dishes at their parties. Everybody wants to be the talk of the town at their parties. So that's what my show would be about: how to teach you to have a great party at your house.

How did you prepare for this competition?

TF: When I first found out about this show, me and my husband were practicing. I watched, like, four or five seasons. And then I had him time me 30 seconds, one minute. I'm not good at pastries, so I was trying to make pies and biscuits and just at least know the basics so if they try to hit me with it, I'll be ready. So I was trying to prepare myself, but obviously you can't really prepare yourself for something like this.

Win or lose, what's something you want to take away from this contest?

TF: Win or lose, because I am a caterer, it's just how to present myself. I can cook. I love to cook. That's what I do. That's my heart. That's my life. But it's really just how to present myself and not be so harsh because my family understands me, but everybody's not going to understand my character. Let's just say that. And I've always been told that I need to find a balance. I've always been told that, but I just haven't been able to find it.

What's your greatest strength in the kitchen?

TF: My speed. I'm able to come up with something creative and move quick on my feet. I'm really good at that.

What is the strangest thing we'd find in your refrigerator right now?
TF: You might find some lobster corn muffins.
What do you consider to be your signature dish?

TF: My savory cakes. I have different savory cakes that I do, like my lobster corn cake with lobster buttercream, my duck cake; I do duck bread pudding with blackberry sauce on top. I have a whole line. I have a meatloaf-and-potato cake. So, it's not really cake; it's just looks like a cake. It's whimsical — see?!

What's your favorite food city to visit?

TF: If I had to choose one, I guess I would say Tennessee. Between Tennessee and North Carolina because I like barbecue. Even though I don't like to cook it, I love to eat it.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?

TF: Oysters, raw. I'll cook 'em for you. But don't you ask me to eat it. It's funny because I can cook it really good. My clients love it. But I just — even when I'm cooking it, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh."

What's your favorite late-night snack?

TF: Hot wings. I'm so simple. It's like, for me to have such an eclectic palate, I'm so simple. But I like to teach people what's in my mind. Me, I can sit back and eat wings and fries all day. But when I teach out something, I want to teach you what I have in my mind.

What's your guilty-pleasure food?

TF: Chocolate cake. Triple chocolate cake, like a 12-layer [cake] with mad icing on it. Oh, my gosh. And ice cream on the side.

What is one must-have dish at your last supper?

TF: It's a fight between wings and fried lobster tail because I like fried lobster tail. ... If I could have both, listen, let me get some wings and a side of fried lobster tail, and I'm good.

What do you want to say about yourself to fans watching at home?

TF: I just want to say, buckle up. Get ready for the ride. You know it's going to be a journey. And I'm excited about the journey and I'm hoping they all want to come through this journey with me. I'm hoping that I'm able to inspire someone who else is like me, who has a big personality but just needs to tone it down a little bit. And maybe they can watch me and do better as well.

Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Doughnuts
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? Tea
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
French fries or onion rings? Fries
White meat or dark? White
Cake or pie? Pie
French toast or pancakes? French toast
Beer or wine? Wine

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Don't miss the premiere of Food Network Star, Season 12 on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c.

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