John Rivera Sedlar returning to his hometown with a fusion restaurant.
Who says you can’t go home again? Award-winning Santa Fe-bred, Los Angeles-based chef John Rivera Sedlar has been tapped to open restaurant in the new Drury Plaza Hotel in the heart of Santa Fe. Sedlar owns Rivera, a sleek, Los Angeles area pan-Latin fusion restaurant bearing his middle name.
He returns to his hometown of Santa Fe after four decades of pleasing diners in Los Angeles to open Eloisa, specializing in modern Latin cuisine. “Santa Fe has long been, and still is, the epicenter of the most flavorful, vibrant Southwestern foods found anywhere in the United States,” says Chef Sedlar.
“I’m so looking forward to returning to the Santa Fe cocina to cook once again my own contemporary versions of the wonderful foods I first ate as a child in my grandmother’s kitchen on Alto Street.” Sedlar’s father moved to New Mexico to work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His middle name, Rivera, comes from his mother’s family, an old Spanish family that has lived in northern New Mexico for centuries.
Online resource for biz news from the Rocky Mountain region.
Such food and beverage producing businesses as wine-making, brewing, coffee roasting or making artisanal foods in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region are covered by Company Week, an online publishing operation that launched last summer but that I just learned about. With the decline of print publishing, this is a valuable resource for keeping up with news about and trends in the production of things we like to eat and drink. What I really like about the searchable website and the free weekly digital newsletter is that they highlight news from small, local entrepreneurial businesses. Print publishing veteran Bart Taylor helms Company Week.
Between the weeks of September 10 and March 10, Company Week’s Food & Beverage category profiled Crooked Stave (brewing), Polidori Sausage, Peach Street (distillery), Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Sushi Den (“equal parts manufacturing and art”), Zum XR (performance beverage), Epic Brewing Company, Patsy’s Candies, Fresca Foods, EVOL (burritos), Door to Door Organics, Good Belly (probiotics), Mile Hi Foods, Kitchen Coop, Boulder Soup Works, Ska Fabricating (brewing), High West Distillery, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau and White Girl Salsa.
The Lifestyle category as included posts from the making of longboards to mountain bikes, but also inexplicably such food and beverage enterprises as Epic Brewing Company and Growing Spaces (off-grid greenhouses for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs of all sorts year-round, without the need for heating). Thanks to Bart Taylor for hiring Wendy Aiello, Denver public relations diva, for spreading the word on this valuable site. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.
James Mazzio’s new Studio F hosts star chef Charles Dale & winemaker John Sutcliffe in short-run “restaurant”
James Mazzio, an award-winning chef of considerable local renown, recently launched a multi-faceted, multi-layered food venue in LoDo’s landmark Ice House. At the entrance, the Red Star Deli is a weekday operation serving perhaps the best and most imaginative sandwiches in the city. Pass through a set of doors to Studio F whose appearance reflects its origins as the classy Mise en Place Cooking School. Studio F now accommodates pop-up dinners (the first has been this week) and Chef Series cooking classes with top local and visiting chefs, and is suitable for team-building or a great private party.
Star chef Charles Dale orchestrated the first of these pop-up dinners, two per evening Thursday and Friday, paired with really nice wines from Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez. Mazzio and Dale have a long history. Charles Dale, then owner/chef of Renaissance in Aspen. gave Mazzio his first restaurant job. When Dale initially asked Mazzio about his butchering ability, he claimed to have the skill. He now laughs about the lie that helped launch a stellar career — and Dale laughs too. Dale was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 1995 when he ran Renaissance, a dazzling fine-dining restaurant, and James Mazzio was one of the 1999 honorees when he was executive chef at 1515 in Boulder. Both restaurants are long gone, but those of us who dined at either or both still remember them well.
I have concluded that too many cooks don’t always spoil the stew. As I watched these two chefs deftly plating some of the dishes on the expansive granite counters, I mused that rarely is so much culinary talent performing such a routine task in public. Because the tasks are routine, it’s possible for guests to walk over and chat for a few minutes — something that is not possible in a restaurant setting, even with an open kitchen. Just an observation about one of aspects of close encounters with gifted chefs that I enjoy the most. For the menu, clickContinue reading Studio F’s Inaugural Pop-Up Dinner→
Chocolate train takes top honors on television chef competition
Darci Rochau, pastry chef at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on the Santa Ana Pueblo, north of Albuquerque, recently won first place on the nationally televised “Food Network Challenge.” Competing against three other teams and assisted by her husband, Greg, she won with“The Transcontinental,” an elaborate five-foot-tall chocolate train looping around a mountaintop that she created in less than eight hours.
The sculpture was made from more than 100 different pieces of chocolate. It was equipped with illuminating headlights and also puffed smoke out of its engine. Rochau practiced nearly every evening for six weeks before the competition in order to perfect the sculpture so the competition day would go smoothly. It certainly seems that it did.
One shop de-franchises & two new frozen yogurt dispenseries
Boulder has gotten a lot of publicity laterly for a spate of new, upscale pizzerias — Pizzeria Basta, Pizzeria da Lupo, Pizzeria Locale, Backcountry Pizza and before that, Boulder Organic Pizza. Premium frozen yogurt is grabbing foodies’ attention too. The operators of CéFiore just off the Pearl Street Mall have given up their franchise, developed their own recipes and have changed the shop’s name to Smooch. Despite the intended Italo-French (or Franco-Italian) implication of its name, CéFiore is in reality a subsidiary of a worldwide seafood and sushi buffet developer and franchiser called Todai. CéFiore had interesting and unusual flavors and flavor combinations. The flavors were lush, but for whatever reason, I rarely saw many customers. There already seemed to be more people in Smooch Frozen Yogurt & Mochi the few time I’ve passed. Owners Michelle and Christopher Luu not have developed their own new flavors, but they also are working with local companies like Boulder Ice Cream, not permitted under the franchise agreement. I haven’t tried it yet, but will — for sure. 1926 Fourteenth Street, Boulder; 303-444-0690.
The space at the Sunrise Center at 30th and Arapahoe (aka, the King Soopers Center) now hosts Ripple Frozen Yogurt, which offers yogurt in ordinary and exotic flavors including vanilla, chocolate and strawberry and unusual ones like green tea or pumpkin. They boast that they always have 16 of the most popular flavors and another 50 in rotation, plus 50 toppings that include various fruits and home-made cookie crumbles. I haven’t tried it yet either, but will — for sure. 1632 30th Street, Boulder; 303-444-0690.
Aspen Leaf Yogurt, a new brand of frozen yogurt shops recently launched by Durango-born Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, will open when it opens in the Table Mesa Shopping Center. It promises sweet and tart flavors. I can hardly wait. The first store is open in San Antonio, and in addition to Boulder, others are open or will be soon in Farmington, Greeley and Boise.It isn’t open here yet, but when it is, I’ll try it — for sure.
Taos Ski Valley cantina serves the flavorful food of northern New Mexico with some hybrid dishes added
There must be a story to the name, “Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina,” but I don’t know what it might be. The congenial restaurant in Taos Ski Valley’s tiny commercial core was owned for 20 years by Todd and Summer Harter. It has long been a popular hangout for visitors and locals. They happily dig into generous servings of the northern New Mexico version of the culinary style that many people (OK, many Anglos) lump under the category of “Mexican.” It is a daytime and early-evening place that closes at 9:00 p.m., but then again, Taos Ski Valley has never been a place for night crawlers.
Two years ago, four partners with great credibility in the area — Marcus Aragon, Tori Mendes, Rachele Griego and Rick Trujillo — bought the cantina. Aragon ad Mendes are (or were) part owners or in some way involved with of Santa Fe’s legendary Coyote Café. The cantina is unpretentious and dishes up good, flavorful food in sizable portions. It uses such local ingredients as New Mexico-raised beef and, of course, those fabulous chiles that are a staple of the local cuisine.
Until last week, I hadn’t been at Tim’s in a long time, but it’s the kind of place that immediately feels familiar and comfortable. The main level, which does come across like an upmarket cantina, is furnished with sturdy picnic-style bare wooden benches and tables finished to a high gloss. The cantina is low-key on a quiet weeknight, when just the main level is open, but it’s lively after skiing and in a busier time than January. A few locals, a couple of other visitors and I enjoyed the casual atmosphere and flavorful fare. I started out with a prickly pear margarita, while the guys mostly ordered beers.
Most of the items on the menu have such familiar names as tortilla soup, chile relleno, nachos, burritos, tacos and so on. But there are also some regional dishes like Navajo tacos and Frito pie, which Texans love, and such odd but tasty hybrids as bratwurst in a flour tortilla with green chili, cheese, onion and sauerkraut and a chile relleno/sushi hybrid called Mexican Suzie Sushi. I put the “enhanced” bratwurst in the category of “boy food” that gives me heartburn when I even think of it, but I had to the the sushi-inspired dish. As for the items found on many menus, the Stray Dog’s flavorful versions elevate them way above the run-of-the-mill Mexican/Tex-Mex repertoire.
Price check: Starters, $4-$11; soups and salads, $6.50-$12; burgers and “sandos,” $9-$11; New Mexican Specialties (range from Frito pies to steak combos), $9-$19.
Northern New Mexico resort restaurant’s traditional ski fare & contemporary dishes
Ernie Blake, one of skiing’s legendary pioneers, established Taos Ski Valley, and his wife, Rhoda, was right there every step of the way, living at the bottom of the lifts. They and their three children lived first in a trailer and then in a large apartment in the resort in northern New Mexico. Ernie passed away 22 years ago this week. Rhoda, now 92, lives down valley, where she remains independent and active — despite failing eyesight. Her granddeughter, Adriana (the PR part of the ski resort’s adminstration), said that she is still irigating her land.
Her namesake is Rhoda’s Restaurant on the top floor ot the ski area’s base area complex (ticket sales, ski school, administration, locker rooms, retail, rental and food service). It is a popular lunch and dinner spot at the base of the lifts. Little wonder that this sitdown restaurant with a view of the slopes serves New Mexican favorites, traditional skiers’ fodder and healthy contemporary dishes. I had lunch there during to fine days of skiing.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.