Chef Christoff Elce
With his culinary debut in French cuisine at La Buvette Wine Bistro, chef Christoff Elce is strongly committed to the importance of sourcing local quality ingredients. By the time he could walk as a child, Christoff trained under his father who was a formally trained professional chef and musician. These very early years established discipline, creativity, and an exciting exploration of diverse flavors. At the age of 14, Christoff began working in restaurant industry in what would be a 20 year journey throughout various culturally diverse kitchens throughout both the Midwest and Los Angeles. During that time while training under talented chefs and restaurant industry veterans, he studied both music composition and economics at Cal State Long Beach and the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.
Having eventually worked every single role in a restaurant, and with no continued interest in becoming an economist or composer, Christoff became an executive chef at the age of 28. Desiring to learn more, he worked as an organic artisan bread baker, caterer, and private chef. With the encouragement of longtime friends and family, Christoff finally decided to complete a culinary goal that had been on his to-do list since childhood: travel to Japan. While in Japan under the guidance of a Japanese professor and hardcore foodie, he participated in the country’s deep cultural and culinary traditions.
Upon his return to the Los Angeles, and reinvigorated by the Japanese spirit, Christoff knew he needed a sensei who could help him better appreciate the intricacies of quality seafood. Luckily, an acquaintance put him in touch with the seventh generation ikejime fishmonger master from Seiichi Yokota, the founder of Yokose Seafood based here in Los Angeles. Yokota-san is from Toyama, Japan, located on the west coast and trained at the famed Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. His pioneering work with locally wild caught ikejime fish has been featured on KCET’s Emmy winning food series “The Migrant Kitchen”, Los Angeles Magazine, Vice’s MUNCHIES series, and Japanese publications. Yokota-san allowed Christoff to become his apprentice, and to this day, they both supply the highest quality local wild caught ikejime fish to Los Angeles’ top restaurants. We proudly feature this high quality locally caught fish on our menu.
While enjoying the first two weeks of (what was presumed to be) a one month vacation after being laid off from a prior chef job, Christoff was contacted by Thomas & Loni, the owners of La Buvette. They were referred to him from a San Pedro local who had enjoyed Christoff’s artisan bread a few years ago. With La Buvette scheduled to open in only five days, they still needed a chef and asked Christoff if he was up for the challenge. Having lived in San Pedro for several years and knowing the importance to the community of having another exciting new restaurant in town, Christoff accepted the challenge. What followed was a five day blur of creating a seasonal rotational menu, developing relationships with local vendors, helping put the whole team together, and making great tasty dishes inspired from Southern France. In his spare time, Christoff likes to travel, accumulate new culinary experiences, and garden. His culinary work has been featured in local press, The Somm Journal, and various Japanese publications.