Peter (Pete) Clements
John Robert Peter Clements came into this world on August 3, 1963. He was born at the Port Arthur Hospital in Port Arthur, Ontario Canada. His mother, father and older brother relocated to Orange County, California when he was two years old. A blond haired, blue eyed boy with a smile that expressed an inner light. Pete quickly took to the lifestyle of Southern California skateboarding, surfing, skiing and dirt biking around the orange groves outside of DisneyLand with his friends.
When Pete was 17 years of age, he began attending cooking classes with his mother who was the food stylist/managing food editor for The Orange County Register. Like butter, Pete was drawn to cooking. His talent was immediately recognized by the teachers at De Rosas Cooking School. His mother fed his hunger for cheffing and took him to learn from many teaching chefs of that time including Julia Child, Marion Cunningham, Jean Brady, and Jacques Pepin. At one class Pete remarked to Jacques that one day he might like to “cook like him” at which chef Pepin responded, “You will be better than me.”
Pete went on to find the excitement of kitchens including Mr.Stox, La Toque, Spago and many others. He would show up in kitchens prior to service dressed in a pressed chef coat and knife roll in hand asking if he could commis and learn for free.
When Pete was 22 years old, he was accepted into an apprenticeship at Michaels Waterside Inn in Santa Barbara. Here he got to work with young French chefs trained at Le Gavroche by Albert and Michel Roux. It was in this kitchen he met his wife and discovered a new outdoor passion in cycling and the sport of triathlon. Following the apprenticeship he went to work as a sous chef, pastry cook and executive chef in many Santa Barbara restaurants including Louies at The Upham Hotel, Montecito Café, Brandons in Piccadilly Square, San Ysidro Ranch and El Encanto. He worked in an exclusive resort in Antigua as well and did parties for private clients all while starting a family.
After his first son was born, he took a job at Emilio’s Trattoria. It was here that Pete found his voice as a chef, mentor and innovator. His success at this small oceanside eatery was indisputable as he utilized all of the skills he had learned using local fresh produce, meats and seafood creating a farm to table experience that was both exciting and delicious.
His success gave him the chops to open up his kitchen to young chefs. Pete was passionate about sharing his knowledge and love for food with anyone who wanted to learn. It is difficult to say how many chefs and food lovers alike learned from him.
Pete is the proud father of three beautiful children, Christopher Tosh, Sara Marguerite and Taylor Kershaw. He adored his family and could be found in his time away from the kitchen spending his days off sharing his passions and love of life with them. Surfing and camping at Jalama, Rincon or simply riding bikes or skateboarding around their neighborhood. He found delight and nothing brought a bigger smile to his face than his three children.
As young adults his children followed his lead, his daughter took to cooking and worked in bakeries and assisted in catering events. His sons participated in surfing contests and bike racing. Pete burst with pride at watching his boy racers navigate criteriums, or tasting whatever his girl baker shared with him. Four years ago his daughter gave birth to his first granddaughter, Leia Marguerite. A year later Charlotte Grace. Pete loved his grandbabies and visited them in Alaska any chance he got. He was always happy to partake in their extraordinary and amusing adventures, teaching the girls how to enjoy good food all while loving them up.
Pete passed away while on a bike ride in Spain on September 16, 2021 of natural causes. We are greatly saddened at the sudden loss of such a vibrant and loved member of our family. The community that grew up and around him, his close friends, kitchen companions, surfers, cyclists, the many fans of his divinely inspired tasty vittles, his children, grand children all of us fortunate enough to have shared a meal with him….to experience his talent and respect for the art of food, the love he served up we will all miss his joy… for Pete is undoubtedly the finest chef, friend and father that I ever had the pleasure to know.