While training under chef Jean Bertranou at Los Angeles’s legendary French hot spot L’Ermitage in the 1980s, chef John Sedlar learned an important lesson. A full, deeply memorable dining experience — the kind people would hum about for days — involves far more than finely tuned cuisine. “Bertranou loved china, creating custom plates for custom dishes,” recalls Sedlar. “He would even change his china with the seasons. Ever since, I wanted to customize my plates and presentations.”
For his recently launched “O’Keeffe’s Table,” a tasting menu inspired by the beloved American artist at Santa Fe’s Eloisa, Sedlar says, “We’re trying to transport guests to Abiquiú, where Georgia lived.” (Sedlar’s great aunt, “Jerry” Newsom, was the artist’s chef for 15 years, so his relationship to O’Keeffe is a deeply personal one.) The five courses, including “Blue Poppies: Blue Potato Crisps and Trout Caviar” and “Black Mesa: Seared Venison Loin with High-Desert Ratatouille,” are thoughtfully composed, locally sourced (many of the featured ingredients were also adored by O’Keeffe) and, thanks to the work of local artist Larry Swan, beautiful to behold.
For “a panoramic, sensory exploration of New Mexico,” Swan created ceramic trays and platters made from glass and cow skulls to accompany each of the tasting menu’s five courses — and to echo O’Keeffe’s artful sensibility. While the food and plates are thoroughly refined on their own, when presented together, they engage all of the senses for a poetic, enchanting effect. “O’Keeffe’s visions and sensibilities have helped shape the way I see my homeland,” says Sedlar, “and I express this vision through my cooking.”