LA Chef Steven Fretz’s saku tuna sashimi at LA Food & Wine’s Night Market

(Originally published August 29, 2015 on

Friday night on a closed off Grand Avenue in front of the Disney Concert Hall, the 5th Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2015 held its “Night Market” event. This event featured bites from many of L.A.’s top chefs as well as bites from other visiting chefs participating in the activities through Saturday, August 29th.

One of the chefs participating from Los Angeles was Chef Steven Fretz from The Church Key in West Hollywood. He was kind enough to take some time to go over his dish and its inspiration as detailed in the discussion below.

LAC: What is the name or a description of the dish?
SF: saku tuna sashimi with coconut sticky rice, passion fruit curd with a Hatch chili nuoc cham, garnished with crispy shallots, fresh coconut, basil and cilantro

LAC: When was it put on your menu? Or is this dish on your menu?
SF: Not currently on the menu. Something we did especially for LA Food & Wine. But I think we’re going to put it on the menu after tonight

LAC: What is the inspiration or precedent for the dish
SF: We did a dessert a couple of week ago that had passion fruit and Hatch chilies. When Chef Ryan and I were thinking about tonight, we said why don’t we do some sticky coconut rice. We’ll use saku tuna because it is affordable for twelve hundred people. We did the same exact passion fruit curd for this prior dessert dish. The sweetness of the passion fruit curd works well with the Hatch chiles, the saltiness of the nuoc cham, and the coconut rice

LAC: What’s your preferred sourcing for key components, plus are ingredients seasonal?
SF: Our saku [sushi grade yellowfin] we get from True World Foods another Japanese seafood company importing seafood from Japan. We get it in one pound blocks. The Hatch chilies, we buy them by the fifty pound bushels. We roast them. We peel them we cool them, and we freeze them. We want to serve them for a while

LAC: Was any special prep or cooking used for any of the ingredients in this dish?
SF: We steamed the sticky rice in half coconut milk and half water. The nuoc chum is a traditional nuoc chum but we added olive oil and hatch chilies to it.

LAC: What’s the inspiration for the plating?
SF: Primarily to make it look pretty.

LAC: How does this plate reflect the restaurant’s menu and chef’s cooking philosophy?
SF: We do food from around globe. We kind of do everything. We don’t have a bookmark for what we do. We do every type of cuisine. We intertwine all types of cuisine. I guess it’s what we call modern American. It is whatever we want it to be.

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