James DeFraga

Operation Smile

James DeFragaWith more than 15 years of professional culinary experience, James DeFraga brings creativity and passion to his role as executive chef. Born and raised in California, DeFraga began his culinary career at age 16 as a ranch hand on a small organic farm where he developed an appreciation for fresh, local produce. He then transitioned to a line-cook at local restaurants in his hometown of Bakersfield. Quickly ascending to lead prep cook and then kitchen supervisor, DeFraga soon transitioned to larger volume restaurants to expand his experience.
In his early twenties, he decided to harness his talent and enroll in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Following his graduation, DeFraga moved to Las Vegas to accept a job as a sous chef at McCormick & Schmick’s before being promoted to executive sous chef. In this role, he learned to navigate the kitchen and gained experience working with head chefs.
In 2013, DeFraga joined the team at AquaKnox in Las Vegas, as sous chef advancing to executive chef in 2015 thanks to his leadership skills and dedicated work ethic. His unique vision is evident in the restaurant’s signature cuisine matching seasonal ingredients with the vibrant variety of fresh seafood flown in daily from around the world.

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