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Benjamin Ford, Star Chef

Jackson's Farm has a fresh face who's making a name on his own terms.

June 26, 1997|ANGELA PETTERA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Ford of His Own: If you call (310) 273-5578 and hit 11, you'll get a direct line to Benjamin Ford, the new executive chef at Jackson's Farm in Beverly Hills. Just don't ask him about his famous father. At 30, he's a big boy now and is tired of being trotted out as Harrison's son.

Ben would rather talk about flavors. He likes to use fresh ingredients as much as possible and plenty of seasonal items (his experience at Chez Panisse and Campanile is showing). After all, he's a foodie, not a Wookie.

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Rix the Restaurant: Speaking of Jones (not the Indiana kind), Will Karges, owner of Jones Hollywood and Johnny's Pizzas, along with two partners, is opening Rix in Santa Monica on the site of John Sedlar's failed Abiquiu and Bikini.

Chef Matt McLinn, formerly of Morton's in West Hollywood, is featuring American regional cooking at this new home. And yes, there are mashed potatoes on the menu, in addition to BBQ veal short ribs and sweet molasses-glazed rack of lamb. Look for it to open at the end of July.

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On Traxx: In September, the cutely named Traxx will open at Union Station downtown in the space that was previously McCarthy's Diner (and, long ago, one of the historic Fred Harvey restaurants). The opening is scheduled to coincide with the final refurbishing of Union Station.

Chef Tara Thompson's goal: "Taking the best of the historic station and combining it with elegant dining." Traxx will have a small indoor dining area, a large patio-seating section and dining on the concourse. It will also have a bar in the station's old telephone room, so you can call a taxi even before your ice melts.

The menu is (again) contemporary American with, you guessed it, plenty of mashed potatoes. Nineteenth century restaurateur Fred Harvey must be feeling vindicated.

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Coming Up: Limbo on 3rd Street, just west of Sweetzer, featuring contemporary Caribbean cuisine. The owner is Errol Johnson of Mobay in Venice. Chef Chris Hilton hails from Jamaica, so look for lots of jerk just after July 4. . . . New to Beverly Hills is a second Nancy's Healthy Foods. It promises some new menu items but air-fried potatoes, everyone's favorite at the original location, will be featured. Just don't tell anybody that the restaurant started in the Valley. (Omigod, in Encino.) . . . Actually, you will now have to go to the Valley for a ceviche fix. The Beverly Boulevard location of Antarctica has closed, leaving only the Studio City restaurant. . . . If you want to get a piece of Mezzaluna, the Brentwood restaurant of O.J. trial fame, be there Tuesday at 11 a.m. when it goes under the auctioneer's hammer. The Weiler Group will be auctioning the restaurant's artwork, memorabilia and equipment.

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Chef-o-rama: Saddle Peak Lodge, the venerable scenic view restaurant in the Santa Monica Mountains, is gathering a bevy of chefs for a 10-course dinner at 7 p.m. Monday. Each chef prepares a course and joins you in the dining room while you devour it--so you'd better come hungry and smile a lot. Chefs include Hans Rockenwagner, Verite Mazola of Chasen's, Giacomino Drago of Il Pastaio, Josiah Citrin and Raphael Lunetta of Jiraffe and Benjamin Ford of Jackson's Farm (remember, ixnay on the dad stuff). Price is $125 per person. Call (818) 222-3888 for reservations.

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The El Cholo Challenge: Ron Salisbury, owner of Sonora Cafe and the two El Cholos, apparently has too much cash on his hands. In a contest, which runs until Dec. 31, to celebrate the Santa Monica opening of El Cholo and the 70th anniversary of the Western Avenue El Cholo, Salisbury is giving away two round-trip tickets to the Republic of Cuervo, $1,000 in spending money from American Express, outfits from Nike and a send-off dinner for 20 people at El Cholo. That's just the grand prize. The only requirement for entering is filling out a card when you dine at one of his restaurants.

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