IT’S MEXICAN. IT’S KOSHER. AND IT’S YOUR NEW FAVORITE OBSESSION.

“I can experiment in culinary school and not worry about my grades, or I can experiment at work and get fired,” begins this young chef, humorously recounting his years of youthful rebellion, from his atypical upbringing as a child in the heart of Mexico through culinary school in The United States.  The son of a Japanese father and a Mexican mother, those early years were spent at the apron of the family’s many in-home chefs, creating his first meal at the age of six – Paella!  He discovered himself relocated to Los Angeles at the age of eighteen, alongside his newly single mother, with both thrust into an entirely new world that now required employment.  Banking on the skills learned at the side of those trusted family employees of his past, Tanabe embarked upon a culinary career that would discover a wealth of twists and turns.

While a student at Le Cordon Bleu, Katsuji discovered that his real education was occurring via off-site internships in several of LA’s more prestigious restaurants.  “I decided it was time to leave culinary school when I got into serious trouble for making a pretzel in the shape of Mickey Mouse, although it turned out to be the best possible decision,” he stated.  Line cook stints soon followed at the celebrated, four star Bastide Restaurant and Loew’s Beverly Hills.  Soon thereafter, Tanabe was promoted to Sous Chef positions at Beverly Hill’s Mastro’s Steakhouse, and Hollywood’s A-List Sterling Steak House.  Through a unique twist of fate, Tanabe was approached to lead the kitchen of LA’s Kosher Steak House, Shilo’s, in the heart of the Los Angeles Kosher Corridor.  Rather than becoming restricted by the laws ruling all kosher establishments, Tanabe discovered that creativity and cooking skills could transform a cuisine that he viewed as lost in time.  “The first week, I created a menu item – A Bacon Cheeseburger! – that sounded as though I had ignored the laws that I had agreed to abide by, when in fact, I had created an entirely new dish that strictly observed all laws. The next day, I discovered myself surrounded by the kosher inspectors, asking me to recreate the burger, as well as my new “Bacon Wrapped Scallops.” When the inspectors reported that they observed no violations, I was suddenly the only chef in Los Angeles bringing fresh ideas and creativity to kosher dining.  I was just substituting inventiveness for the prohibited food items.  And suddenly, we were packed every night.”  Following five years of creating new and inspired dishes at Shilo’s, opportunity once again came knocking on his door.

A restaurant space became available just across the street (the space, incidentally, boasts a stone wall, mined and transported from the quarry of The Western Wall. Value? Approximately $80,000.00!), and the building’s owner was a Tanabe fan.  Now, however, rather than adopting the title of Executive Chef, Tanabe was now the Chef, Partner, and Owner.  And he was determined to cook the food that he knew best – the beloved food of his youth, Mexican.  And it would be Kosher; in fact, the very first Kosher Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles.  Again, certain food staples of local Mexican cuisine would not be allowed – Shrimp, Pork, Dairy – and, once again, Tanabe’s creativity leaped into action.  Creating menus that include “carnitas” made from brisket braised in duck fat, and soy-based “sour cream,” Tanabe set out to construct menus that spoke to his childhood memories, as well respecting the strict laws of his very large loyal following in the Los Angeles Kosher community.  “We tried to open quietly, but the first week we sold out of food every single day and were forced to close early,” begins Tanabe.  Although busy from day one, Tanabe remains a chef and he remains restless.  Menus change weekly, specials change daily, he now offers fourteen house made salsas with more on the way.  Tanabe has discovered a world of diners that have never experienced even one bite of his childhood cuisine, and finds himself explaining basic dishes dozens of times each day (You will find Wikipedia definitions of Mole on the MexiKosher Facebook page!) and, he adds proudly, “We’ll usually see them again the very next day.  We already have a very loyal customer base.  I’m cooking the food that I love, that I eat, and that I grew up with… just with a little twist.  I don’t think of MexiKosher as a Kosher restaurant.  I think of MexiKosher as a great little restaurant that just happens to be kosher.”

MEXIKOSHER | 8832 W. Pico Blvd | Los Angeles | CA | 90035

310.271.0900 | www.mexikosher.com

 

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THE GROUNDBREAKING SAINT ESTEPHE RESTAURANT RETURNS

Chef Sedlar, circa 1981

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Birthplace

of Modern Southwest Cuisine, Chef John Rivera Sedlar Offers

A Saint Estèphe Retrospective at Rivera Restaurant

For thirty days in September, downtown Los Angeles’ acclaimed Rivera restaurant will present The Saint Estèphe Retrospective Celebration with menus, photo presentations, and commemorative events that will allow diners to revisit the classic dining rooms and dishes of the legendary Manhattan Beach restaurant opened in 1981 by Chef John Rivera Sedlar and Sommelier Steve Garcia.  The debut of Saint Estèphe marked a pivotal moment in the birth of modern Southwest cuisine and played a signature role in distinguishing Los Angeles as a culinary destination, signaling the emergence of California as a focal point for culinary innovation, creativity, and quality. Chef John Sedlar played a pivotal role in that movement. The Modern Southwest Cuisine he created at Saint Estèphe earned international attention and acclaim, from the Los Angeles Times to the Chicago Tribune, including Craig Claiborne’s glowing recollections in the New York Times, to publications in France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy, and beyond.  Chef Sedlar spent years traveling the world as teacher, mentor and celebrity chef, bringing his very personal interpretation of cooking to an eager world of budding gourmands.

Chef Sedlar plans to devote one special evening during the first week of the celebration to a private dinner for former Saint Estèphe patrons, staff, and friends, with invitees expected to arrive from every corner of the globe.  Patrons of the establishment ranked among the world’s rich and powerful, with celebrity and mogul dining alongside food critics and journalists from every major publication in the world, each arriving to experience and report this bourgeoning genre of gastronomy. Partner and Saint Estèphe Sommelier Steve Garcia will join Sedlar from Santa Fe, NM for the occasion, as well, to welcome returning guests, reminisce, and join in the commemoration of this much revered, landmark dining destination.

Throughout the remainder of the month, Rivera guests will enjoy the option of ordering from an archival menu of Saint Estèphe classics – Sedlar originals that include definitive offerings such as ‘Salmon Painted Desert,’ ‘Green Chiles Rellenos with Mushroom Duxelles,’ ‘Posole with Seared Sea Scallops and Tarragon,’ ‘Veal Chops Marinated in Burnt Chile Pesto with Sopaipillas and Rio Grande Honey,’ and ‘Blue Cornmeal Crepes with Canela Ice Cream and Grapefruit Grand Marnier Sauce.’ The Rivera classics menu will also be served.

The Saint Estèphe Retrospective | Sept 1–30, 2011 | Dinner only

Rivera Restaurant | 1050 S. Flower Street | Los Angeles, CA | 90015

For reservations, dial 213.749.1460 or visit www. opentable.com.

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CHEF ERIC LECHASSEUR TO DEBUT SEED BISTRO

An Upscale Vegan Bistro (of Gastronomic Proportions) Arrives In West Los Angeles |

Eric Lechasseur, Chef and Owner of Venice’s casual eatery, Seed Kitchen, will soon debut his new restaurant SEED BISTRO in West Los Angeles.   Poised to offer a dining experience of vegan and macrobiotic fare never before enjoyed in the Los Angeles area, Chef Eric will undertake to present a dining experience comparable to the finest in contemporary vegetarian and vegan cooking, all within the walls of his cheerful new bistro setting. Situated along the financial district of West Wilshire Boulevard, the restaurant will seat approximately forty guests, tucked neatly within cool green walls, and crowned with The Chef’s Table – a “sushi bar-esque” raised counter that seats a mere six guests.  These fortunate six will be the sole guests allowed to enjoy The Chef’s Menu, an offering of 4-7 courses of haute, vegan cookery, prepared before their eyes, and served by the chef and his assistant.  One day each week, this special menu offering becomes even more elaborate and extensive, as Chef Eric creates The Farmer’s Market Chef’s Table, an offering determined entirely at the whim of the chef and the momentary bounty of the market. The nightly dinner menu will include small plates (pates, olives, and perhaps Eric’s PETA award winning Faux Gras), vegetarian sushi, and salads, as well as much more elaborate entrée offerings such Paella, Flageolet cassoulet, and squash risotto.

Seed Bistro will also serve lunch, although likely a much lighter fare of healthful offerings, reminiscent of Seed Kitchen.

Seed Bistro enjoys a beer/wine license, and will offer a well edited, boutique selection of wines by the glass and bottle, craft beers, and sake.

 

SEED BISTRO is tentatively scheduled to open to the public the last week of August, 2011.   Further details, hours of operation, menus, and interior photos to arrive soon.

SEED BISTRO is located at 11917 Wilshire Boulevard


www.seedbistro.com

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