Award-Winning Chef to Be Featured at Parkway Grill

Ken Frank
Ken Frank

He got his start in Pasadena, and now award-winning chef Ken Frank will return as guest chef at a Pasadena restaurant for three days this month.
Frank, whose restaurant La Toque in Napa earned a prestigious Michelin Star in 2007, plans to bring a variety of options for Parkway Grill diners on April 17, 18 and 19 for the dinner crowd (although some specials will be available for lunch). The self-taught chef said he and Parkway Grill owner Gregg Smith have been talking about the event since January.
“I just had to find a week to sneak out and go do it,” Frank said in a phone interview. “You know, I cook all over the country four or five times a year for all sorts of different events, but I haven’t cooked in Pasadena professionally since I was in high school. It’ll be fun to be back where I started. I’ve known the team at Parkway for a long time.”
Frank draws his passion for contemporary French cuisine from when, as a kid, his family relocated to Yvoire, France. After entering the culinary scene in France, Frank earned acclaim when he returned to the U.S. at 21 and began cooking at the Los Angeles restaurant La Guillotine. In 1979, Frank opened his first iteration of La Toque on the Sunset Strip (which he sold after 14 years) and later opened Fenix at the Argyle in 1995.
The current La Toque has been running since 1998 and was initially located in Rutherford.
Frank’s menu at Parkway Grill will include, among others, a seared duck foie gras, Hawaiian kampachi tartare, roasted rack of lamb with Moroccan spices and porcini crusted scallops. Frank said the chef world has gotten smaller in recent years, in the sense that they’ve increasingly diversified their offerings as opposed to focusing on one style.
“Most of the world’s best chefs right now incorporate different aspects from around the world. It’s not unusual on very high-end menus right now to see influences from all over the world,” he explained. “I have been very, very fortunate to enjoy a long, happy career very much on my own terms. I started cooking at exactly the right time. When I started in the ’70s, food was just becoming exciting and respectable.”
Smith said it was an easy decision to bring his friend in as a guest chef.
“I don’t think I’d talked to Ken in seven or eight years when he called,” Smith said. “He’s one of the very best. It’s a no-brainer to bring him in. Everyone should come and take advantage of it.”

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