Rumors that Latin chef John Rivera Sedlar, who owns Rivera in downtown L.A., had been sniffing around his hometown of Santa Fe, looking for the right space for a restaurant there, have been circulating for months. But even as recently as a couple of months ago, Sedlar hadn't found anything.
Now it turns out the Rivera chef has nabbed a primo location. He’ll be opening a restaurant in the Drury Plaza Hotel right on Palace Avenue, a block from the landmark plaza at the heart of downtown Santa Fe. And the opening date, early 2015, is just months away. Named ELOISA after his beloved grandmother, the restaurant will have a menu inspired by the cooking of Abiquiú Pueblo and painter Georgia O'Keeffe.
He knows the territory, having spent much of his childhood there with his extended family. His maternal grandmother was born in the village of Abiquiú an hour north of Santa Fe and worked as a chef in her own right. His aunt -- his grandmother's sister, Jerry Newsom -- was Georgia O’Keeffe’s personal cook there for many years.
“I’m thrilled to be returning to my family’s very deep, multigenerational roots in northern New Mexico,” says the 59-year-old chef in a statement. “ELOISA will be a celebration of everything I learned from my grandma, and an homage to the abuelas, tias, madres, and hermanas de la cocina, combined with my own experiences as a contemporary Latin chef.”
Over the four decades Sedlar has been cooking in Los Angeles, he’s done French-inflected modern Southwest Cuisine at Sainte-Estephe in the ‘80s, Pacific Rim at Bikini and radically original Southwest at Abiqui in the ‘90s, and more recently high-end Latin cuisine at Rivera and Playa.
But here’s the bad news: Sedlar will be closing Rivera at the end of 2014. The last night of service will be New Year’s Eve, which he’ll celebrate with a retrospective of dishes from Rivera’s seven years, along with the cocktails the excellent Julian Cox has created for Rivera’s cutting edge cuisine over the years.
Is this the end for Sedlar in L.A.?
He thinks not. "I am excited to be planning a new 'next chapter of Latin cuisine' restaurant in West L.A. for 2015," says Sedlar. He's also got something else in the planning states, a Tequila Lab "since beverage is the compadre of comida.“
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