Food Lover: Alfredo Gurrola, the Fisher King

The city’s top chefs rely on this seafood purveyor to reel in their catch of the day

If you’re chef Michael Cimarusti of the Michelin-starred Providence–L.A.’s white-tablecloth sanctuary of aquatic specimens–nothing is more central to your operation than seafood quality. To ensure he’s procured the best possible product, Cimarusti has for the past ten years called on Alfredo Gurrola, a purchaser and sales representative from International Marine Products, downtown’s acclaimed wholesale fish purveyor. A native of landlocked Zacatecas, Mexico, Gurrola began driving trucks for IMP in 1985 and spent years in the fillet room, sampling bluefin tuna and absorbing information about species, weather patterns, and handling techniques. Today Gurrola manages an intricate network of global anglers and distributors who provide live updates on daily catches, water conditions, and quota specifications for everything from wild Tasmanian blacklip abalone to local sardines. He relays this information to his roster of clients, which also includes Sushi Gen and Spago, with the steadiness of a CNN news crawl. “Every day is different—that’s what I love about my job,” says Gurrola. “Securing market-fresh fish for restaurants involves a lot of moving parts, so I have to be in constant conversation with fishermen and seafood brokers at all hours of the day.” If Cimarusti’s request for black sea bass is affected by a storm on the East Coast, Gurrola may suggest striped bass instead. “I trust him completely,” says Cimarusti. “If he recommends something, I’ll buy it without a shadow of a doubt. He has an eye like mine: We’re very critical.”

Alfredo Gurrola is one of 25 L.A. “Food Lovers” featured in our November, 2014 Food Lovers Guide on newsstands now