LOS ANGELES — Fine dining with an unpretentious vibe, that’s what chef Jason Fullilove is bringing to Abernethy’s in DTLA. Abernethy’s opened as part of the newly renovated Music Center a few months ago and features an ever-changing lineup of L.A.’s most exciting culinary artists including Jason Fullilove, the current chef-in-residence. 


“We’re making grits the traditional way,” said Fullilove, stirring a casually simmering pot of the soul food staple. “We do about two parts water, one part cream, and then we just finish it with butter at the end so they're super rich.”

Fullilove is the chef/owner of Barbra Jean as well as executive chef at the Magic Castle. He is well-traveled and said his menus bring together his international experiences in a way that mixes fine dining with the simple comforts of home cooking. 

“Most chefs will at some point in their career, find a project where they get to take all their experience and also embrace the food they grew up eating,” said Fullilove. “One thing that didn't really exist [in L.A.] was no one was really doing that with soul food. So, being an African American chef with the fine dining background I felt like [Abernethy’s] would be a fun project to do.”

One of America's chefs on the rise, Fullilove says taking a turn at bat at Abernethy’s also allows him to reach a whole new audience in DTLA.

“I brought in one of my sous chefs who's been with me for five years on this project. Basically, she helped me train this staff here. They have an amazing team of chefs [at Abernethy’s].” 

As Fullilove garnished a plate of his signature wild Pacific Prawns and grits, with Amarillo purée, and garlic and tomato confit, he explained his belief that soul food is meant to comfort and satisfy, but as a chef, one must play to his or her crowd, and in L.A. that's a diverse bunch.

“Originally, everyone thinks soul food is African American comfort food from the south,” he said. “We really kind of expanded that idea into, 'What is soul food globally? What is Korean soul food? French?' I just really get to the roots of cooking and trying to make that mesh well with Southern African American cuisine.”

Fullilove said it is an exciting to be part of the culinary expansion in DTLA, a movement that has made Downtown a serious foodie destination. 

“I moved to California in 2009 and Downtown was exploding then, and it has never stopped,” he said. “So, I think this opportunity is amazing at Abernethy’s, to bring in different chefs every few months that have been working on something that's very special to them and giving them a big stage to perform on.”