When chef Daniel Elmaleh helped open the Celadon restaurant in 2006, he was excited to experiment with new tastes and dishes. But while the restaurant was short-lived, closing two years later, Elmaleh discovered a lot about himself as a chef from the experience.
“I knew how to cook before, but when I started (Celadon), I really learned a lot,” he said. “You’re starting everything from scratch.”
While at Celadon, Elmaleh met Katsuya Uechi, creator of the Katsuya restaurants. This chance meeting led the young chef to a position as corporate Katsuya chef with the SBE Restaurant Group, a hospitality company that owns the Katsuya line along with other L.A. restaurants.
SBE recently named Elmaleh executive chef of the company’s entire portfolio of restaurants, including the Abbey in West Hollywood and the six Katsuyas – four in Los Angeles County along with Las Vegas and Miami locations. In this role, he will oversee the maintenance and operation of the eateries from the development of recipes to monitoring the cost of food.
Elmaleh’s personal cooking style is a blend of his unique background – he is half-Japanese and half-Moroccan, and grew up in Israel and Japan.
“They are two very different cultures with different flavors,” he said. “It kind of opens your palate when you’re young.”
Elmaleh inherited a passion for cooking from his father, Simon, who opened the first Moroccan restaurant in Japan and now operates Simon’s Café in Sherman Oaks.
To supplement what he learned from his father, Elmaleh trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, which taught him the French techniques he is known for today.
But Elmaleh understands that being an executive chef is about more than creating mouth-watering meals. He also enjoys helping cultivate new talent.
“I know how other younger chefs feel. I like to have a learning environment,” he said of his kitchens with SBE. “We have all these concepts within the company that we can offer. You always know there’s opportunity to grow.”
Elmaleh, 35, lives in Woodland Hills with his wife, Justine. In his spare time, he rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and avoids cooking when he’s at home.
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