Los Angeles Restaurants: John Sedlar Art as an Appetizer

by Pamela

pacific standard time, del maguey mezcal, john sedlar, julian cox

Have you ever wanted to feel like you had the inside track to the best of the Los Angeles restaurants?  Well, now you can, at least for a little while. (aren’t all good things in LA fleeting).

Between now and March 31st, you can experience the food and drink of chef John Sedlar, mixologist Julian Cox and artist cum Del Maguey Mezcal founder Ron Cooper through a special “secret” menu at Sedlar’s Playa and Rivera restaurants.  What’s the catch, you ask?  There’s no catch.  This is part of a collaboration between the Getty Museum’s art program called Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945 – 1980.  All you need to do to enjoy this special menu is visit either of Sedlar’s restaurants, during dinner time, and show that you attended one of the various Pacific Standard Time’s installations (there are several around town) or simply ask for the special menu.

I was fortunate enough to have a (media day) preview, which included tasting as well, of the menu and it’s not to be missed.  Each part of the meal has been inspired by a piece of art in the multi-genre exhibitions, including the cocktails.  The photo at the top is a Julian Cox creation called 47′ Chevy Wilmington, CA by Oscar Castillo.  It’s blend of mezcal, passion fruit, lemon, orgeat and lavender foam is the same color as that iconic car in Castillo’s photograph.  There are three more art inspired cocktails in this menu, but I’ll leave those as a bit of a mystery for you to find.  Trust me, they’re equally creative and delicious.

Pacific Standard Time at Playa Restaurant

The first course is inspired by ceramicist, Beatrice Wood and her piece called Fish Platter.  The iridescence of the scallop, salmon, yellowtail and tuna crudo are a perfect compliment to the  artwork.  The addition of colorful accents of  kumquats, radish, chiles, lime, red seaweed and citrus foam made you feel like you were literally eating a piece of art.

Ed Ruscha's LACMA on Fire

The second course of Art as an Appetizer will prove to you that yes, chicken breast can taste amazingly good.  In an homage to Ed Ruscha’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire, towers of chicken breast are leaning and covered with charred endive evoking the fiery remains and a spicy red salsa for the burning embers.  A superbly poached egg is sure to quench any affects of the “burning embers” on your tongue.

As a final course, also known as dessert, inspiration comes from Carlos Almaraz’s 1982 painting Beach Trash BurningA trio of brightly colored sorbets, with each color coming from the painting, is served in bowl with an accompanying tuile (which is the color of the sandy beach).  The flavors of pineapple, lime and hibiscus are a bright and welcome finish to a beautiful and delicious meal.

Each course was served with a traditional copita of Del Maguey mezcal, which was founded by artist (whose works are also in the Pacific Standard Time exhibit) Ron Cooper.  You may also have noticed that the courses weren’t exactly served on what you would consider to be traditional dinnerware.  Each tray bore a photo of the artistic inspiration for the dish.

If you ever questioned the idea of food as art or wondered where a chef gets inspiration, Art as an Appetizer is the concept come to life.  And if you ever thought that New York is/was the hub of the art world, you’ll be doing yourself a great service checking out any, or all, of the installations of Pacific Standard Time.  And really, since there are so many locations to see different genres of the art scene from that time period, there really is no excuse to miss this.  To get up to date information on the locations and showings you can visit Pacific Standard Time Exhibitions.

To make reservations for either of these restaurants, please visit Playa Restaurant or Rivera Restaurant.

Oh, and earlier this month, John Sedlar was nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Pacific.  Congratulations!

Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


Suzy February 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

Where has the belly gone?

Pamela February 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

He’s still at the top, just moved from left to right side of the page.

Michelle Jaffee February 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Gorgeous and beautifully described… I won’t have the chance to make a res at either. Bummer!

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