Whenever actor David James Elliott is at home, he can most likely be found in his kitchen, assembling a pizza to slide into the outside oven or combining ingredients for a new iteration of a Buddha bowl, the healthy one-dish meal.
“The family might be in the other room watching TV, but I’ll be in here,” said Elliott, who for a decade starred in the NBC and CBS TV series “JAG” as Lt. Harmon Rabb Jr. “Cooking is another creative expression for me. It’s very fulfilling. My wife and I have an arrangement — she does the laundry; I cook.”
He’s married to entrepreneur Nanci Chambers, and she and Elliott share the 8,000-square-foot Italian villa-style home with their 16-year-old son and a menagerie that includes two dogs, two rats and a lizard.
The home was rebuilt from the studs up about a decade ago, when the family converted a smaller ranch-style home into an elegant, pale yellow Tuscan-influenced estate, with a backyard where they grow passion fruit, tomatoes and strawberries.
The heart of the home is the spacious kitchen, where Elliott indulges in his favorite pastime when not working. He’ll appear in the new season of CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles” this fall, completing a multi-episode guest arc. He’s also starring in the Netflix series “Spinning Out,” as the patriarch of a figure-skating family.
This custom Italian kitchen is where ‘JAG’ star David James Elliott spends most of his time.
Why is this your favorite room?
Because I love to cook, and the kitchen was designed to do a lot of cooking. The countertops are higher than average to accommodate my 6’4” body. We have a steam oven built into the butcher block, two stoves, an indoor gas grill and stuff for outdoor grilling. It’s a dream kitchen. There’s not much you can’t do in here.
And you’ve gone for the chic rustic Italian theme throughout.
Inside and out, this is a very Italian home. We’ve always been in love with Italy, and we made a special trip to little towns in Tuscany for the small details. We work with a wonderful Los Angeles artist, Laura Capitanio, who is Italian and has done all the hand-stenciling on parts of this kitchen and other areas of the house. Nanci was really in charge of all that. She has a great eye for aesthetics.
Where did your love of cooking come from?
My father is Bahamian, so there were a lot of Caribbean influences growing up. My younger brother was training to be a chef but didn’t finish, and he taught my other brother and I. It just became another extension of how we express ourselves.
So are pizza parties the norm?
Not that often or I’d be buying new pants all the time. We are mostly vegan, almost a fully whole-foods, plant-based diet. I like experimenting with sheet-pan cooking and Buddha bowls, and get great recipes from sites likeohsheglows.com.
What are some special pieces in here?
We have a lot of full dish sets. We went to a place in Perugia where you pick your own specific patterns and if you break one they make more and ship them to you. And we visited Murano for glassware and chandeliers. Our kitchen table is French country, hundreds of years old, and we got that in England.
Can you share any especially happy memories in this room?
My brother comes to visit, and we cook together and play guitar. We love entertaining and have a big sliding door leading to the outside, so there’s a feeling of people coming and going all the time, a real family atmosphere. We love to celebrate life, and food is a good way to do that.