America's founding father of Southwest cuisine is getting into fast-food. John Sedlar, the chef who gave us Tennessee caviar on blue-corn pancakes, zebra-striped chile rellenos and filet mignon with blue hominy and truffles, plans to open a chain of fast-food stands featuring "tacones," cone-shaped tacos.
His partners are already scouting locations on the Westside; and Sedlar, who owns Abiquiu in Santa Monica, is busy developing the recipes. Sedlar's tacones are going to be filled with things like barbecue chicken, shrimp with wasabi sauce and turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce.
"It's an extension of my Southwest food," Sedlar says. "I love the cuisine, but I have a very fine dining restaurant and don't reach as many people as I'd like to at Abiquiu. (Tacones) is a casual inroad into reaching a lot more." And, needless to say, making a lot more money.
Vida's Fred Eric, however, is less than thrilled with Sedlar's new venture. Eric came up with his tacones concept years ago as a replacement for the hot dog and pizza, something easy to eat while walking around malls.
"I can't believe people have that little going on in their lives that they have to steal someone else's ideas," Eric says. "(Chefs) Mary Sue Milliken, Lydia Shire and (restaurateur) Susan Fine have all had my tacones, and everyone knows the idea is directly connected with me."
Sedlar disagrees: "As far back as 1974 a company in Santa Cruz was using a cone to hold Mexican food. And I know there are places in Hawaii that serve them."
In fact, after checking with the U.S. Trademark and Copyright Office, Sedlar discovered several other entrepreneurs have the same idea. Beancone, Gyrokone, Mexicone, Down Home Cones, Kooky Kones, Magnificone, Crab Cone, Pretzelcone, even Hurricone are trademarked names.
"If John goes through with his plans, I will be very disappointed," Eric says. "It will be such a public humiliation for him--and he doesn't even realize it."
"People all around the country have had this idea," responds Sedlar. "I don't think anybody should be proprietary about it.
"You know what I would say to Fred? 'Get out and do the concept right now. Make some tacones. There's going to be plenty of room for everybody.' "
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Dance Fever: The hottest hotel dining room in town isn't the Ritz Carlton or the Bel-Air but the Regent Beverly Wilshire. That's where the Arthur Hanlon trio re-creates the '40s ballroom on Friday and Saturday nights. With the closing of the Beverly Hilton's rooftop l'Escoffier room last year, the Regent is now the only place on the Westside offering fine dining and live dance music in such an elegant setting.
Happy Anniversaries: The Warehouse in Marina del Rey, which turns 25 this year, is offering a sweetheart deal to couples who will be celebrating their silver anniversary on Valentine's Day. Beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the first five who fax their wedding certificate to (310) 306-3952 will be Warehouse owner Burt Hixson's guests for dinner on Valentine's Day. . . . To celebrate Chianti Cucina's 10th anniversary, dishes from alumni chefs Celestino Drago (Drago, Il Pastaio) and Antonio Tommasi (Locanda Veneta, Ca' Brea, Il Moro, Ca'del Sole) will be featured during February and March. Cucina's special anniversary menu includes Drago's venison carpaccio and spaghetti with sardines and Tommasi's seafood in broth and seafood-filled tortelli, not to mention current Cucina chef Fabio Flagiello's turkey osso buco.