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Ford Looks for Land for Organic Chadwick

July 29, 1999|ANGELA PETTERA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Farmer Ford: Ben Ford, former chef at the Farm of Beverly Hills, has been working on opening his own restaurant. He plans to call it Chadwick, after organic gardening guru Alan Chadwick, who taught the French Intensive method of gardening through his garden project at UC Santa Cruz from 1967 to 1972. Chadwick's work inspired hordes of students to spread the gospel of growing pesticide-free fruits, vegetables and flowers by using methods of biodiversity, double-digging of soil, close planting and composting. Ford will raise a banner to Chadwick by buying the restaurant's produce, fish and game from local organic farmers and by presenting seasonal food in an uncomplicated manner. He also hopes his new restaurant will become closely tied with its neighborhood through sponsorship of programs like community gardens and food donation. Ford is aiming to have Chadwick open by the end of the year. He just needs to nail down his location.

An Empty House: Josie LeBalch, who helped Liza Utter open the Beach House on West Channel Road in Santa Monica Canyon, has departed. The decision came after she returned from vacation in France two weeks ago. She told us: "I just probably have done all I could do for the Beach House, and it's time to move on." From the beginning, LeBalch had maintained that she wanted her own restaurant, and would only stay at the Beach House long enough to get it on its feet. That she did. Now in the midst of negotiations for her own place, LeBalch said, "My work is done there." She had planned to hand her toque over to her sous chef, David Fouts, who used to cook at Lumpy Gravy before that wacky Beverly Boulevard place closed. But just after LeBalch left, Fouts himself was offered a deal elsewhere.

Liza Utter immediately hired David Wolfe, from 2424 Pico, the just-closed Santa Monica Cal-Middle Eastern restaurant (R.I.P.). He came in two days after LeBalch left. Utter can't say enough about him: "I love his cooking; he's a great guy." The menu will stay the same for now. "The concept of the Beach House is the feeling of tradition," Utter tells us, "and I try to find people who can fit in with our concept, and of course bring something to it." So while Wolfe will put his own spin on things, don't expect to see a menu change.

Out of the Public Eye: Chef Roland Gibert has left 72 Market Street in Venice to cook at the Jonathon Beach Club (850 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica). The downtown Jonathon Club (which is over 100 years old) and the Jonathon Beach Club (over 40 years old) are both private clubs that began openly admitting women and minorities to their ranks around 1988. Their dining rooms are open only to members and their guests. Membership fees cost about $10,000 per person plus regular dues. About his move from a public forum to a private one, Gibert will only say, "Here I am now. . . . I move on to the next chapter, and that's it." As for the inevitable menu changes at the Jonathon Beach Club, Gibert says, "It will become Roland's menu."

Meanwhile, back at 72 Market Street, Robert Roaquin will step from the front of the house, which he has been managing, back to the kitchen, where he was a sous chef from 1994 to 1996. He was also the chef at Chianti on Melrose for a couple of years. He'll make the current Market Street menu shorter and more seasonal.

AIFW Dinner: Granita in Malibu is hosting an American Institute of Food and Wine dinner on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. The speaker for the evening is David Block of Byron Vineyard & Winery; you'll be able to taste a new Byron blend that won't be released until September. Jennifer Naylor will whip up a five-course meal matched with Byron wines. The price is $75 for AIFW members, $85 for nonmembers. Reserve through the AIFW by mailing a check to Roberta Mitchell, 14318 Killion St., Sherman Oaks, Calif., 91401, or fax your check to her at (818) 902-0861. Confirm your reservation by calling (310) 535-6090.

* Granita, 23725 W. Malibu Canyon Road, Malibu; (310) 456-0488.

16mm: Flint's, the Santa Monica speakeasy-style restaurant, has gotten its hands on some corny educational reels from the '50s, '60s and '70s that were made to help youngsters cope with fitting in socially. And they're prepared to show them to you. Just arrive for dinner on Aug. 8 any time after 6 p.m. At 8 p.m. Skip Elsheimer of A/V Geeks will thread up his projector and introduce you to a tiny fraction of his collection. Titles include "Are You Popular?" and "Psychological Differences Between the Sexes."

* Flint's, 3321 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 453-1331.

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Pettera's e-mail address is pettera@cwix.com.

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