Jonathan Gold Gets Raw At M.A.K.E.; Catching Up With John Sedlar

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M.A.K.E.'s kim chi dumplings Photo: Hadley Tomicki

Taking his table at M.A.K.E., Jonathan Gold writes, "If you are new to the nut pastes, purées and dehydrated flatbreads of the raw-food thing, you will probably get distracted by the menu board of the restaurant right across the way, whose promises of buttermilk fried chicken, blue cheese burgers and fried dill pickles can look pretty good when you are considering a plate of substances that could probably be used as spackle in a pinch." Nonetheless, the critic knows that chef "[Matthew] Kenney came from a different place than the hustlers and dietary evangelists usually associated with the raw-food edge of cuisine." Noting that his techniques fit right into today's modernist zeitgeist, Gold is impressed by a lot of what he sees, from leaf skins standing in as dumplings dough to a "killer pesto" in a lasagna with pasta made from shaved zucchini. He concludes, "Will three or four meals be enough to sway a hardened raw-foods cynic? Of course not, any more than a trip to Mastro's Steakhouse will persuade a vegan to switch sides. But it may be enough to make him take a second look."

L.A. Weekly's Amy Scattergood spends a spell with Rivera chef John Sedlar, succinctly summing up his drive in writing, "his cooking can seem like a collection of food stories, his menus a series of art installations, his restaurants as much exhibitions as places to eat dinner." Sedlar won't really have anything to do with the next incarnation of the space that housed Playa, but he will still be attached to the visionary Cielo Verde roof garden and could be supplying owner Bill Chait's new chef here with produce. He will also be turning his attentions on the long promised Museo Tamal, which the chef admits, "really has nothing to do with tamales," instead describing it as "a metaphor for the Latin community," though it may eventually "include two restaurants, a theater, a TV studio, a kitchen stadium, gardens and a greenhouse" when it opens next year to the public. The writer sums up, "The line between Sedlar's real museum and the one in his kitchen is, after all, a fluid one. He wants to play with spicier foods, pushing the envelop of the Mexi-China menu. He wants a dim sum cart. And he's been thinking about France again. He's planning a spring trip to Paris, he says, to find out if French food is still 'relevant.'" [LAW]

Brad A. Johnson ventures to Corazon y Miel in Bell, which reminds him "the hipster bar scene in Guadalajara" even if he feels "like it would be a better fit for downtown Santa Ana, or the Camp in Costa Mesa." In addition to Christian Pulido's "rock-solid" cocktails, Johnson gives due propers to the cooking of Animal-vet Eduardo Ruiz. "Given [his] tenure...it's not surprising that Corazón y Miel's namesake dish is an appetizer of braised chicken hearts tossed with pickled onions. They're excellent," he writes, calling the Pan-Latin menu "refreshingly original" with dishes like mezcal-marinated flank steak, sopes "piled with fatty, achiote-glazed pork belly," and "what must certainly be the best French fries in at least a 5-mile radius." [O.C. Register]