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Santa Fe’s new Drury Hotel bringing native cooking star back to town

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe, expected to open soon after a major re-do of the old St. Vincent hospital buildings in downtown Santa Fe, on Monday announced star chef John Rivera Sedlar, who grew up in Santa Fe, as restaurateur for the hotel’s restaurant Eloisa.

Drury said Eloisa will open this fall on the main floor of the hotel. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and will serve “Southwestern Latin fusion cuisine,” the hotel chain’s news release said.

In Los Angeles, Sedlar owns the pan-Latin fusion restaurant Rivera. He’s getting into the restaurant business in his hometown of Santa Fe after four decades in Los Angeles, where he made his mark at his earlier restaurant, Saint Estephe, and later opened restaurants called Bikini and Abiquiu, also in L.A. In 1999 he started Abiquiu Foods, LLC, under which Sedlar’s Modern Southwest Kitchen produces tamales, chile rellenos, taco shells, and condiments.

“Santa Fe has long been, and still is, the epicenter of the most flavorful, vibrant Southwestern foods found anywhere in the United States,” Sedlar said in the release.  “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.”

“Chef Sedlar’s mastery of modern Latin cuisine and his Santa Fe roots make him a perfect fit for our restaurant,” ssaid Tauseen Malik, general manager of the hotel.  “His culinary vision and creativity will bring a fresh new outlook to the culinary landscape of Santa Fe.”

Sedlar was named “the Father of Modern Southwest Cuisine” by Gourmet magazine and has competed on Bravo‘s Top Chef Masters.  He guest-taught at the Culinary Institute of America and is the author of many cookbooks including “Modern Southwest Cuisine,” “Tamales,” and “The Tamale Poster.”

In 2011, Sedlar was named “Chef of the Year” by Esquire magazine and Rivera restaurant was acclaimed as one of the nation’s “Best New Restaurants 2011.”  Sedlar has been recognized in the Cook’s Magazine feature “Top 50 Who’s Who of Cooking in America” and in Food & Wine magazine’s “Honor Roll of American Chefs.” He received the Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts Magazine. In addition, he served for 10 years as spokesman for Patrón tequila.

According to the Drury announcement:

“Sedlar was raised on bizcochitos, empanaditas, and tamales in the New Mexican kitchens of his mother, aunts, and his grandma Eloisa, who was a professional chef. His father moved to New Mexico to work for Los Alamos National Laboratory.  His middle name, Rivera, comes from his mother’s family, which has lived in northern New Mexico for centuries.

“He grew up in Santa Fe and spent three years in the Spanish cities of Sevilla and Zaragoza.  In 1973, he apprenticed himself to legendary French chef Jean Bertranou of L’Ermitage in Los Angeles and mastered classic techniques while evolving his own approach to cooking. Sedlar has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Latin America, and Spain to study Latin food traditions, and he is also the creator and founder of the first Latino food museum in the United States, Museum Tamal.

“Sedlar’s first restaurant, Saint Estephe, opened in 1980 and was named “among the very best in California, or even the West” by Bon Appétit magazine.  At Saint Estephe, Sedlar combined his classical training with his love of New Mexico’s cuisine to create what he named Modern Southwest Cuisine, also the title of his first book. He continued to create delicious, innovative food at his next restaurants, first Bikini in 1991, and then Abiquiu in 1994, both in Santa Monica.”