Paper Dosa

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

It’s 6:30 on a Wednesday evening and Paper Dosa is packed. Groups of people stand in the hallway or at the host stand, waiting for a table. The smell of frying onion, cumin, cilantro and mint fills the air while I sip a glass of Vinho Verde. A friend and I are lucky enough to get two seats at the bar, overlooking the kitchen. Our placemats are lost beneath an array of appetizers. We begin with handfuls of crispy pakora: thinly sliced red onion and jalapeño battered in rice flour, which we dip into a creamy eggplant chutney with a heady, earthy flavor. Next comes the cashew calamari, surprisingly not fried. Instead, discs of sliced squid are buried in a thick, spicy cashew curry. The flavor pairs beautifully with the strong, pungent ginger of a cold glass of Thistly Cross Ginger Cider. We lose ourselves in the spicy mango and goat cheese salad, crunching on colorful watermelon radishes and walnuts. Every so often we bite into lusciously ripe cubes of mango coated in spicy red chili.

Chef Paulraj Karuppasamy and his wife and business partner, Nellie Tischler, have found a home for their first restaurant and Santa Fe’s only eatery dedicated to south Indian cuisine. The couple spent the last year catering for private events and putting on pop-up dinners across town in an effort to build followers. After several events and an amazing 32 consecutive pop-up dinners at Café Fina, Paper Dosa has earned a reputation for its flavorful cuisine. The pair also received support from BizMIX, an annual startup and business plan competition that teaches aspiring business owners about financing and how to plan and pitch their business. The organization awarded the couple $13,000 towards opening their restaurant and in April they took over the old Mail Call space on Cordova Road, next to Maria’s.

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

Paulraj (or Paul, for short) was born in Tamil Nadu in the south of India. There were no restaurants, so food was a big part of each day—his mother would begin cooking at 5:00 every morning. They lived across the street from a market where his father bought ingredients three times a week. Everything was made fresh from scratch each day and leftovers were thrown out for the dogs, cats and chickens. “Paul’s mom makes food that’s spectacularly bright,” Nellie says with a smile. “There’s always a little punch to everything, so Paul got that from his mom.”

After attending culinary school in India and working as a chef for a cruise line, Paul landed in San Francisco at Dosa, a south Indian restaurant that had just opened up. Paul had never worked cooking Indian food before. “Until I came to San Francisco I was not much into south Indian cooking,” Paul says. But as he experimented with new techniques and spices, he began to miss the food he grew up eating. “I really fell in love with south Indian cooking,” he says. At the same time, he fell in love with Nellie, who was working as a server. They got married two years later and eventually made their way to Santa Fe, where Nellie grew up.

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

The white truffle masala dosa looks like a giant enchilada. But when it arrives at the bar, I can see that it’s delightfully thin, delicate and crispy. Fermented rice and lentil batter is artfully crafted into a giant crepe and then rolled around the masala, a stuffing of spiced potatoes blended with white truffle oil. Across the top of the plate three dipping sauces are lined up: sambar, coconut chutney and tomato chutney. The sambar, a hearty lentil and vegetable stew, is my favorite. I tear off pieces of dosa and dip them into the stew, searching for chunks of crispy vegetables. The coconut chutney sends my palate soaring in the opposite direction, cool yet spicy and chock full of fresh cilantro.

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

South Indian cuisine is distinct from the cuisine in the north of the country. In the south, the climate is tropical and hot, so the food is based on rice and lentils, instead of the wheat-based dishes found in the north. The food, cooked in coconut and gingelly oil (Indian sesame oil), is light and fresh. Whole or ground spices and herbs are heated in hot oil or ghee and added to a dish, a process known as tempering. The hot fat of the oil extracts the aroma and flavor of the spices and herbs, enhancing their presence in a dish.

The couple envisioned a menu that was simple, streamlined and reasonably priced, so they included street food like dosas, vadas (doughnut shaped lentil fritters) and pakora. Prices range from $4 to $9 for appetizers, $9 to $13 for dosas and $13 to $18 for curries. Each dish is powerfully flavored and some are very spicy. “Heat is a big element in south Indian cuisine,” Paul explains. He uses an array of ingredients like mustard seeds, curry leaves and Thai chili in addition to generous amounts of ginger, garlic, onion and tomato.

The list of ingredients for the chicken curry alone is impressive: cilantro, mint, ginger, garlic, Thai chili, habanero, cumin, coriander, poppy seed, peppercorn, garam masala, bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamom. The restaurant goes through an incredible 60 bunches of cilantro each day. The food is made from scratch and can easily accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten free customers. “For south Indian cuisine you need spicy, tangy, bitter, salty and a little bit of sweet,” Paul says. “You’ll find those five flavors in multiple dishes.”

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

It has always been the couple’s dream to open their own restaurant. “I know the kitchen,” Paul says, “and Nellie knows the floor.” But Paul was hesitant about opening a business in Santa Fe, where no one has exclusively offered south Indian cuisine before. The market is also much smaller than in San Francisco. “It’s hard to sell this business,” he explains. “People don’t know what south Indian cuisine is. If I can get them to try it once, they’ll become a fan. But how can I get them to try it?”

“We knew that once people tried the food, it wouldn’t be hard to sell,” Nellie says. “If you have a good product, all you have to do is get it out into the market.” Paul agrees. “Pop-up dinners and support from BizMIX really gave me the chance to get my product out to a lot of people.” The two have been surprised by an outpouring of support from the community and especially from other business owners who have brought the couple in for pop-up dinners and events, including Murphy O’Brien of Café Fina, Soma Franks and Fiona Wong of Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen and Mu Jing Lau of Mu Du Noodles.

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

Support from these members of the culinary community shows an eagerness for the continued expansion and growth of Santa Fe’s culinary scene. “Other business owners have really supported us,” Nellie says. “We couldn’t have done it without them.” Customers have also contributed to the initial success of Paper Dosa, filling the restaurant every night. Paul says, “People are welcoming and grateful and really supportive. It’s just amazing.” The addition of Paul’s south Indian cuisine to the Santa Fe dining scene is a definite sign that our culinary community is maturing.

Back at the bar, we’re on the last course: tastes of three different curries. We begin with the vegetable curry, made with coconut milk and tomato and spiced with chili powder. I wrap pieces of uttapam, a thick south Indian pancake made from rice and lentil dosa batter, around crispy cauliflower, carrots and parsnips. The chicken curry with its long list of ingredients is one level up in heat, spiced with Thai chili. But my favorite is the very spicy lamb curry. Local lamb is seasoned with red chili, green cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves and peppercorn. The result is an irresistibly pungent, earthy curry with a deep, broody flavor and lots of heat.

Paper Dosa of Santa Fe

“This food makes people feel alive,” Nellie tells me, and I agree. “Life can be difficult and sometimes our day-to-day life can run us down. People come here and for that hour and a half life is driven by food and the senses. That to me is fun—it’s exciting.” For Paul, sharing his cuisine is the most rewarding thing about his new business.

“When I’m cooking, when I see that people are happy with that first bite, that makes my heart happy.”

Paper Dosa is located at 551 West Cordova Road in Santa Fe. 505.930.5521.

Originally published in the May, 2015 issue of Local Flavor Magazine. Photography by Gabriella Marks.

The Ingredients of Great Service

My favorite breakfast in town is served on a simple diner-style plate, with paper napkins and no-fuss silverware. It comes with coffee served in a chunky white mug and ice water in a plastic cup. The green chile that smothers my eggs and the crispy potatoes served on the side are delicious, but that’s only part of why I keep returning. When I walk into the Pantry Restaurant, the servers and bussers and host smile and say hello—they know me by name. They know my eccentric order by heart (breakfast burrito with egg whites, vegetarian sausage, fresh vegetables, potatoes and an extra side of green) and what I want to drink. They ask about my family. I feel welcomed and appreciated and I’ll go back every week instead of choosing someplace new, just for this experience.

When it comes to choosing a restaurant, good food is important but good service is arguably just as imperative. Poor service can keep you from visiting a restaurant again, while great service and great servers will keep you coming back. But what are the critical ingredients for great service? As someone who’s worked on the other side of the table, from server to bartender to manager, I decided to ask colleagues from some of my favorite local restaurants to talk about what they think defines great service and what Santa Fe restaurant staff can do to foster great experiences for their guests.

During a busy Friday night or packed Sunday brunch at any restaurant in town, you’ve probably noticed the bussers and servers hustling through the dining room, on a sort of racetrack from the kitchen through the tables and back. A well-run restaurant is like a well-oiled machine and there’s a kind of dance between the employees as they work. This is what Luis Lozoya calls “the system.” Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Luis began working as a server at the Pantry 12 years ago and is one of the most recognizable faces of the restaurant.

At the Pantry, he says, everyone works as a team. The framework of service is a kind of cross training, where everyone knows how to do everything, so nothing falls through the cracks. “You have to have a good team,” he says, “and you have to know the system. We do everything here. If there’s food to run, you run the food, whether you’re a server or a busser. If you see a table that’s dirty, you clean the table.” He points out that Stan, the owner of the Pantry, and his son Michael, who currently runs the restaurant, are there working just as hard as the rest of the staff, wiping tables and running food and filling up drinks. “The food has to be good,” Luis emphasizes, “but the service has to be better.”

Owners and managers who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty are huge contributors to a restaurant’s great service and success. When I arrived at the Plaza Cafe downtown to talk about service, Jared Garcia, the manager and son of owner Daniel Razatos, was crisscrossing the floor, darting from table to table to speak with customers and running credit cards. “We all roll up our sleeves,” he said as we sat at the counter. “My father still busses tables, runs food, serves tables, takes back the bus tubs. We’re a big team and we treat it like a big machine and we’re all working together. It’s very important to do that.” Ester Najarro has worked at the Plaza Cafe for 32 years, after coming to the U.S. from Guatemala. She points out that a good manager also knows how to communicate with customers and is always present on the floor. “A good manager walks around the tables, asking how customers are enjoying their meals,” she says. “They ask visitors where they’re from, what they’re doing in Santa Fe. A good server should also communicate well with customers in this way.”

Communicating well with customers, working as a team and even knowledge of the menu items and wine list are all important aspects of service. But great service goes beyond these technical aspects, as my colleague Jay Hayden pointed out while we discussed the concept of excellent service. Jay bartended for nearly 20 years before landing at Geronimo restaurant, where he’s worked for 16 years, and La Boca, where he’s worked for seven years. If anyone knows great service, it’s Jay. He reminded me of the difference between technical service and hospitality, a distinction made by Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park. Meyer says that service should be divided between the technical and the hospitable. Water glasses should remain full and food should arrive on time, but a server must also make the guest feel welcome and at home.

Jay believes the concept of hospitality applies no matter the style of service, whether it’s fine dining or a casual diner setting. “It doesn’t matter the level of service. The principles are the same. Even in different styles of dining, I’ve got to be spot on with service but I’ve also got to try to make that connection with customers.” Hospitality can be what separates an average dining experience from a fantastic one, and what makes you choose to go to one restaurant over another. Jay emphasizes that people have an endless number of choices when it comes to dining. “People can choose a multitude of restaurants. How do you get them to choose you?” Jared at the Plaza Cafe echoes this sentiment: “I explain to the staff that people choose us. They’re not only spending their money but they’re spending their time here and we want them to enjoy every minute.”

Hospitality is making customers feel welcomed and appreciated, not just keeping their water glasses full and the table clear. Jay says, “I want to figure out how to make it special so their experience is memorable.” Hospitality is all about how the customer feels, but it’s directly linked to how the restaurant staff, from bussers to managers, feel about their jobs. Some of the most hospitable people in the business are those who choose to work in restaurants as a career and are passionate about the work they do. I ask Luis at the Pantry why he loves being a server. “When you’re a server you know lots of people,” he explains. “There are people who come back every year, they ask about my family and they remember me. If you do this just for the money, it doesn’t work. It’s got to be your passion.” Ester at the Plaza Cafe agrees. When I ask what her favorite part of the job is, she doesn’t hesitate. “My customers. I have customers from all over the U.S. I love my customers.”

Matt Reynolds has worked at La Casa Sena for 15 years. He’s been a busser, a food runner, a head server, a bartender and is currently managing the restaurant. He considers working in the restaurant business a career, but points out that these days, there are a lot of people in the business who are just there for a quick buck. “There used to be more full-time workers,” he says. “Now, a lot of people have second jobs or they’re going to school for something else. Being in the restaurant isn’t their major focus.” Finding a restaurant with servers like Luis or Ester, who have passion for what they do and show us the meaning of hospitality, is something special. “In a restaurant like the Plaza Cafe, you can be a career server,” Jared says. “It’s not just a cafe, it’s something bigger than that. People keep coming in from all over the world. That’s something you can have pride in.”

As a server at two successful restaurants, Jay says that a staff’s attitude definitely contributes to a guest’s sense of hospitality. “I’m happy to be there,” he says, “and that translates out onto the floor. If you’ve got a happy staff and people are glad to be there, they’ll bring that attitude to the table.” He explains that dining culture has changed. These days, servers and managers aren’t just there to make sure your meal is delivered on time. People like Jay, Luis and Ester are the heart and soul of a restaurant and they have the potential to deliver a warmth and sense of welcome that will bring you back again and again. “You’re not just a waiter or waitress anymore,” Jay says. “You’re the host or hostess of the party.”

Originally published in the April, 2015 issue of Local Flavor Magazine.

WSET Diploma


When I first began inquiring about the WSET diploma program, I had several people warn me that the diploma is a much bigger undertaking than the intermediate or advanced levels. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought, no problem. Turns out they were right–the depth of knowledge, research skills and writing skills required for the diploma program is much greater than I imagined–not to say I wouldn’t enroll again! The course consists of six units: the global business of alcoholic beverages; wine production (viticulture/vinification); light wines of the world; spirits; sparkling wines; and fortified (liqueur) wines. So far I’ve only completed wine production, and am currently enrolled in the units for both sparkling and fortified. I can barely keep up with the massive amount of reading, writing and research required. But I’m having a blast with it all, and I learn new things about the world of wine every single day.

Here’s something fun I worked on yesterday. The assignment asked for students to write about the Champagne shortages of the early 1990s/2000s, how the Champagne industry dealt with the issue, what solutions were proposed, their benefits and drawbacks and how the actions taken impacted the Champagne market. This is what I came up with.

Rising Demand for Champagne

The 1990s and early 2000s saw large increases in demand for Champagne, from nearly all markets, particularly the UK and the US. Average growth in 1999 across all markets was 20% (“Finding the Fizz,, 1 May 2000, The Champenoise were barely able to keep up with demand, which was outstripping supply. This resulted in escalating prices, which affected producers as the price of grapes rose, as well as consumers, who experienced rising prices for Champagne. The delimited Champagne area was fully planted. How to address this problem and find ways to increase production and meet rising demand?

Several solutions were proposed. One involved raising yield limits for Champagne, which was introduced temporarily between 2007 and 2011, from 10,400kg/ha to a maximum of 15,500kg/ha. Tom Stevenson felt raising yields would be beneficial in helping to solve the problem, stating, “Maximum yields in Champagne have always been a work of fiction, with the Champenois growing vastly more than they need and simply harvesting up to a synthetic limit, leaving the unpicked grapes for the birds…The maximum legal yield in 2004 was 12,000kg/ha, plus 2,000kg en blocage, but the average actual yield was a massive 23,000kg. It goes without say that Champagne’s make believe maximum does nothing to affect the quality of the grapes grown. Those grapes harvested above 14,000kg are just as good, or bad, as the grapes in the same vineyard below 14,000kg” (Champagne’s €6 Billion Expansion, by Tom Stevenson, November 2007, Raising yields could be a factor in raising production, but it probably will not result in enough grapes to meet demand, provided demand keeps rising. It may also contribute to negative perception, as consumers and sommeliers alike generally equate low yields to higher quality, although this is not necessarily the case.

Blocage was another solution proposed for the problem of demand outstripping supply of Champagne. Blocage is the practice of building up stocks of reserve wine to use during shortages. Producers built up reserves during the mid-1990s, which they used to booster levels of production during years with lower yields and during times of increased demand. “The Champenois have managed the difference between supply and demand partly as a result of steadily building up stocks over and above prevailing demand levels during the mid-1990s. The qualitative reserve or so-called blocage has also played an important role. In years when the harvest is abundant and more grapes are available than the permitted maximum yield, some extra wine may be put into reserve if the appellation authorities allow it. Thus, in the 1992, 1993 and 1994 vintages, the equivalent of around 130 million bottles of Champagne were put into the blocage for possible future use at times of shortage…Even so, the Champenois would be hard pushed to satisfy another large increase in demand in 2000” (“Finding the Fizz,, 1 May 2000, Again, blocage can offer a partial solution, but is not a silver bullet for the problem of demand outstripping supply in Champagne.

One of the most contentious answers to the problem of demand outstripping supply has been to expand the limits of the Champagne region. In 2003, the SGV (Syndicat General des Vignerons de la Champagne) requested a revision of the Champagne AOC, and in 2007 the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualite) released proposed changes to the Champagne AOC. These changes included the addition of 40 new villages and the exclusion of two, which were already included in the AOC.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the proposed expansion of the Champagne region, and the expansion would very clearly benefit some growers and houses while negatively impacting others. Resistance from the two villages to be excluded (Germaine and Orbais-l’Abbaye) is expected, and compensation would have to be offered to those who would be declassified. On the other hand, the value of some growers’ land would increase exponentially. Stevenson says, “The value of each hectare will increase overnight from between €1,800 and €5,000 up to €1.2m, creating as much as €6bn of new wealth” (“Champagne’s €6 Billion Expansion,” by Tom Stevenson, November 2007,

In the same article, Stevenson points out that high Champagne prices have created an artificial demand on grapes, which are then sold at inflated prices. “With more wine sold than produced, needless pressure is placed on stocks, and the result is increased prices for the consumer.” Thus, one benefit of expansion of the Champagne area could be a halt of price increases or even lowering of prices both for consumers and for producers as pressure from limited supply is eased. However, demand for Champagne has historically been cyclical, subject to the boom and bust of markets. In the early 1990s, Champagne suffered from falling demand, found itself with a surplus of wine and suffered from falling prices. By the time any expansion is agreed on, grapes are actually planted and wines from the expanded areas hit the shelves, demand could fall once again, with disastrous results for growers and producers in Champagne.

Another drawback of expansion could come in the form of negative public perception. Consumers have equated Champagne’s proposed expansion with a position of greed, with growers and houses trying to capitalize on greater demands and make more money. Reputation is certainly a factor influencing demand in the various markets for Champagne. One way to overcome possible negative perception is to make sure that proposed expansion includes only villages that will strengthen the Champagne AOC, instead of watering it down with sub-par land. Stevenson says, “If all the new land they propose can be demonstrated to have a potential quality in excess of the average quality of the current AOC vineyards, then they will have produced an infallible case for expansion, because not to proceed would be to condemn the future of Champagne to an unnecessarily inferior quality” (Champagne’s €6 Billion Expansion, by Tom Stevenson, November 2007, He also points out that the proposed expansion is, in fact, a consolidation. The proposed additions included villages that were left out of the Champagne AOC but directly adjacent to villages already included in the AOC. The region didn’t get wider, but more villages inside the existing AOC would be included.

Currently, the proposed expansion is still under review. Various public inquiries will take time, and Stevenson predicts that the earliest consumers may see wine from the expanded areas on the shelf would be in 2021. Meanwhile, the Champenoise will have to continue to rely on a mix of solutions, notably increasing legal yields and allowing for greater blocage, to stay ahead of the increasing demand for Champagne—as long as demand continues to increase.

Chef Andrew Cooper of Terra

Andrew Cooper always dreamed of becoming a chef. Although he’s worked with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for 14 years, recently he has been awarded his first executive chef position at the company’s five-star resort at Rancho Encantado. But cooking for Terra, the gorgeous restaurant on the property, isn’t the only thing he’s been up to. Since moving to Santa Fe a year ago, Andrew has been busy working with organizations like Cooking with Kids and The Food Depot, implementing his philosophy of organic, local and sustainable foods within our community. He’s also busy raising his one- and three-year-old sons. It may sound like a lot for one person, but this is one chef full of energy and an insatiable appetite for all things cooking and community.


As with many chefs, his love of food began with his grandmother, who made special meals for him and his family when they visited her in Brooklyn, New York. He cooked during Boy Scouts (once cooking over a campfire with a Danish cookie tin that exploded). In high school, he got a job at a country club where he cooked hot dogs, chicken and fish for golfers. When it came time to think about college, Andrew decided to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. “I spent more than eight hours a day thinking about food,” he says. “I wanted to get paid for it.”

He enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. When it was time for his required internship, he decided to apply at Bouley Restaurant, in New York City. Dressed in his best (and only) suit, he knocked on the back door of the restaurant and told David Bouley that he wanted to be a chef and wanted to intern with him. Bouley asked him to start immediately—by making pasta with his sous chef.

“The first thing the sous chef did was take a whole handful of pasta and throw it across the table to me,” Andrew remembers, smiling. “I looked down at my suit and thought, ‘Oh well.’ I worked the rest of the day there. Bouley was so impressed that he took me under his wing and trained me.”

Andrew has traveled the world, learning about and teaching cooking in Switzerland, Italy, Australia and even Taiwan. In his 14 years with Four Seasons, he’s worked at hotels in New York, Hawaii and West Lake Village, California. One of Andrew’s strengths is his varied experience and willingness to learn from each new place he goes. When he worked for Four Seasons in New York, the food was all about indulgence: duck fat, butter and foie gras. But in West Lake Village, he had to relearn his techniques in order to make more healthy food that still tasted indulgent, like mayonnaise made from avocado. On the Big Island in Hawaii, Andrew’s focus shifted to what would become an important part of his personal philosophy as a chef: sustainable cooking.

“When you’re on a rock in the middle of the ocean,” Andrew says, “you have to be as sustainable as possible. You can fly food in, but it costs an arm and a leg.” When asked to write a sample menu, the resident chef responded by highlighting all the items that weren’t local—over half the menu. So Andrew started touring the island, visiting the more than 160 local farms that sold produce and meat to the hotel. He enjoyed getting to know the farmers and their families, as well as learning how they grew and prepared their produce—even how it was delivered. “It really made my love of cooking even more special,” Andrew explains. “I started to understand how and why something is grown and associate the produce with the farmer. So a tomato wasn’t just a tomato—it was Dave’s tomato.”

AndrewCooper3Andrew has brought his knowledge and passion for local, sustainable food to Santa Fe. When he arrived at Four Seasons at Rancho Encantado, he asked the folks in the kitchen where they got their apples. No one knew, and Andrew discovered that there weren’t many local ingredients on the menu. He took his kitchen crew to the farmers’ market, and they’ve been going every week since, buying as many local ingredients as possible to incorporate into the menu at Terra. He spends time getting to know our local farmers and learning to make the best use of local ingredients, especially green chile. “When I first came across Romero Farms and experienced the chile roasting,” Andrew exclaims, “the smell was intoxicating! The flavor, the taste—I fell in love!”

Andrew wants to share his excitement for local ingredients and sustainable food with the community, and he also wants to show people what Terra is all about. “People tend to avoid coming out here because it’s ten minutes out of town,” he explains. “Four Seasons is fine dining–focused, but I want to show people that we can be fun, down-to-earth and affordable.” Andrew took advantage of the Four Seasons taste truck, a food truck manned by different Four Seasons chefs across three states, to showcase “gourmet meals to-go.” Upon its arrival in Santa Fe, he took the taste truck to Tesuque Elementary School, where more than 130 kids were served homemade tamales, enchiladas and churros. He’s very excited to work with kids, especially after seeing his own three-year-old son’s excitement for what goes on in the kitchen. “He wants to be involved when I’m cooking,” he says, grinning. “It’s messy, but he’s so interested!” Andrew also participated in this year’s Souper Bowl and Pie Mania events for The Food Depot. “I want to share my passion and love for what I do with the community,” he says.

To show people what Terra is all about, he has created chef’s table dinners, where people can dine in the kitchen. “People told me I couldn’t do it,” Andrew says, “because it gets so crazy in the kitchen. But I said, why not? It’ll be like watching a Broadway show, but they’ll be in it.” He set up a table in the kitchen, and when a local family made the first reservation, no one quite knew what to expect. At the last minute, Andrew grabbed eight aprons and decided to get the family involved in the action. Instead of simply eating dinner in view of the kitchen, the family was able to help plate food and call out orders. Everyone had a blast, getting to experience the crazy dance of cooks and servers at work on a busy night. Andrew points out that these days, with the Food Network and the popularity of cooking shows, people are much more aware of food than they used to be. Now, at Terra, people will have the opportunity to get a real-life peek behind the scenes.

AndrewCooper2If you haven’t been to Terra yet, you should go. The restaurant itself is gorgeous, with a clean, modern feel and a cozy fireplace, behind which is a gorgeous glass-enclosed wine cellar. The restaurant has an open feel, with several windows that look out on a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains. With Andrew’s creativity and faith in all things local, his food—which he calls American regional with Southwest influence—is some of the most exciting in town. He told me about one dish he recently created using what was available at the farmers’ market—and green chile, of course, which he used to marinate some short ribs. He had pumpkin and chard from the farmers’ market and some local mushrooms. Thinking of ideas in the dining room at Terra, his eye fell on the fireplace, and he decided to smoke the pumpkin with piñon wood. He was also drinking coffee, and so he finished his dish with coffee syrup. The result? Green chile–braised short ribs with a smoked pumpkin purée, wilted Swiss chard and sautéed mushrooms with a coffee reduction. Are you getting as hungry as I am?

I ask if it’s easier, living in Santa Fe, to cook using local and sustainable ingredients. “It’s not easier, but it’s more important,” he explains. “Here in Santa Fe, people really care about their food and they ask where it’s from and if it’s organic.” He points out that what we eat really affects us and that we should have a say in what we eat. “We have a choice to know where our food is coming from and to understand what we’re eating.” Having his own kids has also changed his perspective on the importance of eating local, sustainable food. “Being a parent now, I’m very aware of what my kids are eating.”

To raise awareness about his own cuisine at Terra, Andrew lists on the menu several of the farms he sources from, including Old Windmill Dairy, Romero Farms, Pollo Real, Rancho Chonito Orchards and several others. “I want my food to be from here,” Andrew says. “I want that story.” By engaging with chefs, farmers and organizations within our community in an effort to create change and awareness, he’s now part of that story himself.

Terra restaurant at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado Resort is located on State Road 592, just outside of Santa Fe. 505.946.5800.

Originally published in the December, 2013 issue of Local Flavor Magazine. Photos by Gabriella Marks.

Somms on the Rise

photo by Stephen Lang

Graciela Gonzalez of Restaurant Martin, Andrew Roy of Il Piatto and Mary Frances Cheeseman of La Casa Sena. Photo by Stephen Lang

Santa Fe may be small but our culinary scene is thriving. Behind this success is a dedicated group of beverage professionals committed to maintaining high standards for wine, cocktails and service throughout our city. These are the sommeliers and mixologists writing your favorite restaurant’s wine list or mixing your drink at the bar. While some have been at it for years, others are just beginning their careers and a few are on the path to become certified sommeliers. These young beverage professionals are excited about what’s new in the world of wine and cocktails, but they’re not just looking to other cities for trends—they’re setting trends themselves. In anticipation of the New Year, I spoke to a few of Santa Fe’s up-and-coming sommeliers about what they’re excited to drink in 2015.

Andrew Roy, the talented young bartender at Il Piatto, discovered the world of wine and cocktails when he worked as a bar back at Secreto Lounge at the Hotel St. Francis during college. “My parents are Southern Baptists and they don’t drink, so I knew nothing about alcohol,” he says. “But I really enjoyed working in the bar, so I started studying everything I could about cocktails, beer and wine.” His studying paid off last year when he passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ first level exam, and he hopes to continue to the second level, or certified, exam. “From a service standpoint, the more I know, the more I can bring to the table and the better service I can provide,” he says, explaining why sommelier exams are important to him.

So what would he like to see people drinking in 2015? “ABC,” he responds. “Anything but Cabernet or Chardonnay.” While these two grapes produce some of the finest wines in the world, Andrew and other beverage professionals in Santa Fe want to turn people on to lesser known varietals and wine producing regions. Andrew is especially interested in southern Italian varietals like Catarratto, a white grape from Sicily. Lately, he’s been drinking a blend of Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) and Negroamaro, two grapes grown in Puglia in southern Italy. “I’m obsessed with it!” he says. “It’s delicious.” Another benefit to exploring new varietals and wine regions, besides their being delicious, is cost—there’s great value outside the realm of the widely known grapes.

Graciela Gonzalez, the manager and wine buyer at Restaurant Martín, agrees. “This year I’ve been focused on really great quality wines that are more accessible,” she says, also citing Italy as an area of interest. “We have a single varietal Corvina by the glass right now and personally I’ve been into Gattinara.” Gattinara is an appellation for the Nebbiolo grape in northern Italy near Barolo. While Barolo can be very expensive, Gattinara offers delicious versions of the same grape at much lower cost. Graciela is also enjoying Godello, a white grape grown in Galicia in northwestern Spain. The grape is well suited to barrel aging and produces intense, mineral-rich wines similar in taste to Chardonnay but at lower prices.

Traveling to Spain is what got Mary Frances Cheeseman, who works in the wine shop at La Casa Sena, hooked on wine. “In Spain, I found that young people my age were more into drinking wine” she says, “and that the food and wine there went hand in hand.” She decided to become a sommelier and is currently studying for her certified sommelier exam. “I love wine because to me, it’s the pinnacle of what good food is about,” she says. “I like food to be indicative of a place, a culture, a time and wine in particular represents an amalgamation of all the things that make a true artisanal product.” I ask Mary Frances why she feels sommelier exams are important for young people beginning their careers in the beverage industry. “Knowing how to serve wine is important,” she emphasizes. “I also like the idea that there are standards of excellence associated with studying wine. It’s such a deep subject that involves different languages, geography, history and sociology. The topic has such depth and breadth that there should be some sort of standard by which experts and novices alike are judged.”

Mary Frances hits on another trend in the beverage industry, which is that more people are becoming versed in wine and cocktails—knowledge isn’t limited to the sommelier. “A lot of the staff at Restaurant Martín are just as qualified in talking about wine as I am,” Graciela explains. “Every week we have staff tastings where distributors come in and talk to us about the wines,” she says. “I’m doing my very best to get everyone to be a part of the wine program.”

Tastings are requisite for servers and sommeliers alike, in an effort to make sure everyone on the floor during service can talk about wine and cocktails with guests. You could call it the democratization of the beverage industry. Graciela frames this trend as sharing an experience with a guest through wine, as opposed to “educating” guests, which can have the unappetizing affect of making guests feel intimidated or afraid to ask questions. Andrew and Mary Frances both emphasize that great service goes hand-in-hand with wine and Mary Frances points out that in a retail setting trust is a big part of the picture. “I enjoy the ability to connect with people on a deeper level at the shop,” she says, explaining that once you get to know a customer they may be more willing to try something new. “I feel like I’m in a unique position to change how people think,” she says.

Another trend all three of these up-and-coming sommeliers would like to set is turning people on to Riesling, a grape folks tend to avoid because they believe it’s overly sweet. But Riesling is widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest white wine grapes. It can be produced in a wide range of styles, from bone dry to sweet, late-harvest versions. It has a unique varietal footprint, full of captivating aromas and flavors. It is especially adept at expressing site and two vines grown in exactly the same way on different soils will taste completely different. It’s also capable of aging for decades in bottle, just like a fine Bordeaux or Burgundy. “I appreciate the drive towards drinking bone dry wine,” Andrew says, “but a lot of people have gone so far that they won’t accept any residual sugar.” Mary Frances agrees. “I’m really excited about Riesling right now and I wish I could get more people to drink it,” she says. “It’s very affordable and it’s such good quality wine.”

Riesling is a trend in sommelier circles everywhere, but how does Santa Fe compare when it comes to other trends in big cities like New York and San Francisco? “Santa Fe has its own unique set of cultural constraints that give it a very strong identity but that separate it from trends in larger cities,” Mary Frances explains. She points out that geographically, Santa Fe is harder to access and shipping wine here can be more expensive. She also feels that Santa Fe shouldn’t try to emulate bigger cities with its trends. “The food and wine scene here is strong enough on its own and I don’t think it should try to be anything else,” she says emphatically. Graciela points out that Santa Fe cares as much about its culinary scene as any big city. “I believe Santa Fe restaurants care to provide experiences that are on par with big cities,” she says, “and we have the same clientele. There’s a more relaxed atmosphere here, but we definitely care as much to give the same level of service.”

Just how much we care is evident in a trend towards purchasing wines from smaller producers and considering growing practices. Graciela tells me that she is becoming more concerned with purchasing wines she can get behind—she wants to know who’s growing the grapes and making the wines. “I want to know who they are. Are they stewards of the land? Do they take care of Mother Nature?” she asks. “I would like to see more estate bottling, terroir focused wines and small growers and producers,” Mary Frances says. “The food scene in general is trending towards farmers markets and farm-to-table programs and I would like to see that translating into the wine people drink as well.”

Andrew is a great example of a young beverage professional putting this trend into practice. His cocktail program at Il Piatto, although constricted to beer and wine, highlights drinks he’s created using homemade ingredients like his signature spiced shrub syrup, a sweetened vinegar-based syrup made from Balsamic, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and other (secret!) ingredients.

Santa Fe’s talented, young beverage professionals want to set the trends for what you drink in 2015. Lucky for us, their choices are delicious and affordable. They’re also setting the standard for great service because at the end of the day, great service is what being a sommelier is all about. Next time you’re out to dinner or need a bottle of wine to take home, look for one of these faces. They’re excited about beverages and excited to help you find something you’ll love. If you’re willing to branch out, you’re likely to fall in love with a new varietal or region. “Some amazing and beautiful wines of the world are going unnoticed,” Mary Frances laments, but I have a feeling these talented folks are going to change that.

Originally published in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of Local Flavor Magazine.

Hearty Feasting Fare

Cafe Pasqual's

Santa Fe restaurants like Cafe Pasqual’s emphasize healthy dishes with local, organic ingredients.

For those of us living in the high desert, where the growing season is glorious but short, winter means we bid adieu to some of our favorite produce: We’ll have to wait until next year to enjoy fresh local lettuces, berries and summer vegetables. But the first hard frost and dusting of snow doesn’t mean the end of fresh food in Santa Fe. Local restaurant owners are committed to providing fresh and organic food year-round. Instead of spring onions, we enjoy local fennel. Grass-fed meat from ranches around New Mexico takes center stage on winter menus. Chefs and bakers make everything from pasta to fresh bread from scratch. Food integrity is a vital part of Santa Fe’s culinary scene year-round, and there’s something for every meal and budget, whether you’re looking to start your day with a light breakfast or sit down to dinner and wine with friends. Bon appétit! 

Breakfast on a winter morning

If you’re looking for a small bite to start the day with, a trip to Revolution Bakery, Santa Fe’s only 100-percent gluten-free bakery, is in order. Everything here is made from scratch daily, from cakes and pies to muffins, scones and bread. As a participant in the Albuquerque and Los Alamos farmers markets, Revolution bakery spends the summer and autumn months trading baked goods for local farmers’ fruits and vegetables. During the off-season you can still depend on Revolution for fresh, local food. Try their egg muffins made with local, organic eggs and Hatch green chile. Breakfast dough placed in a muffin pan is stuffed with egg and chile and baked in the oven. This is a dish I don’t mind waking up to! Also try Revolution’s homemade sticky buns, which are topped with pecans from Pecos Diamond Pecans in Artesia, New Mexico, or the French toast made with Revolution’s fresh-baked bread and local apples.

Pumpkin cinnamon roll (with icing) and egg and cheese muffin at Revolution Bakery

Pumpkin cinnamon roll at Revolution Bakery

If you’re looking for breakfast with a focus on local, make sure to pay Joe’s Dining a visit, a restaurant known for its passion for local and sustainable food. The list of local ingredients at Joe’s is impressive: Lamb, bison, chicken livers, chile, eggs, flour, feta cheese, fruits and even some of the wine and beers served at Joe’s are all from our state. The restaurant even makes its own mozzarella cheese! I love to visit Joe’s for a breakfast burrito made with organic eggs, local potatoes and, of course, local chile. Even the tortillas are from Albuquerque. It’s a classic, delicious and truly New Mexican dish. Also be sure to try the blue corn pancakes. Santa Fe Culinaria makes the blue corn pancake mix, and the fluffy cakes are served up with ham, bacon and local jam. 

If you happen to pop in for lunch, branch out and try the grass-fed liver and onions, with liver from Sweet Grass Cooperative in Colorado. This co-op is composed of ranchers who have a passion for the land and the animals, and many of the member ranches are certified organic. The liver and onions will be served with winter vegetables from the farmers market, like winter squash, pumpkin and beets.

A tour of healthy breakfasts in Santa Fe wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Café Pasqual’s, where chef and owner Katharine Kagel has been a vocal proponent of all things local and organic for the past 35 years. Pasqual’s purchases products from certified organic farmers and producers who don’t use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or GMOs. This tiny café embodies the concept of food integrity, and the time and energy Kagel spends sourcing food for Pasqual’s demonstrates her dedication. For example, the restaurant uses only Askinosie chocolate, a small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer located in Missouri that sources 100 percent of its beans directly from the farmers. Nearly everything at Pasqual’s, from beef and pork to sugar, flour and spices, is organic. Even the wine list offers only wines that are sustainable, organic or produced biodynamically. Are you vegan, vegetarian or gluten free? Not to worry, Pasqual’s will adjust many of their menu items for you.

This winter, try the eggs benedict with bacon from Red Mesa Meats, available at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. “It’s some of the best bacon I’ve ever had by far,” Kagel says, adding that the hollandaise for the dish is homemade using organic butter, lemons and eggs. I can’t think of a better breakfast for a cold desert morning.

Quinoa burger at Cafe Pasqual's

Quinoa burger at Cafe Pasqual’s

Local lunch

Izanami, the new, beautiful, izakaya-style Japanese restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves, boasts 90-percent organic produce, as well as non-GMO organic soy and locally raised chicken, beef and pork. The restaurant introduced a new chef in September, David Padberg, who worked the past 12 years in Portland, Oregon, and brings with him a strong knowledge of sourcing locally. This winter season, he’ll be serving up Lone Mountain Wagyu beef from Golden, New Mexico. Raw slices of the premium Wagyu New York strip are presented tableside along with a hot stone, which guests use to sear the beef themselves. Served alongside the beef is an array of sauces including freshly grated wasabi root, soy sauce and momiji oroshi, a mix of grated daikon radish and red chile peppers. 

Harry’s Roadhouse is an old favorite offering fresh, organic ingredients this winter. The restaurant uses organic eggs and squeezes its own fresh juices, as well as offering organic oatmeal and homemade granola during breakfast. For lunch at Harry’s, try the buffalo burger, which uses locally raised buffalo. For an extra boost, have it with the organic New Mexico gala apple salad, made with blue cheese, walnuts, celery and a sweet-and-sour poppy-seed dressing. Be sure to check out the daily specials, which emphasize local and homemade ingredients and change according to what’s available.

Although relatively new, Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen has been an amazing addition to the Santa Fe culinary scene with its focus on high-quality, nourishing food. Owners Soma Franks and Fiona Wong are proponents of local and organic ingredients. They participate in Santa Fe’s Farm to Table restaurant program and use the restaurant as a drop point for a local community-supported farm. A grow bed on the back patio provides fresh herbs and edible flowers. They also make some items entirely from scratch, like their delicious 100-percent organic gRAWnola, which is made using sprouted live-food granola and buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, goji berries and coconut topped with sugar-free almond milk. The pair also mills their own flour each day, which they use in pasta dishes and fluffy pancakes. 

Turkey tortilla soup with green godess salad at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

Turkey tortilla soup with a green godess salad at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

This winter, try Sweetwater’s spicy lamb burger, made with local lamb from Talus Wind Ranch Heritage Meats. Have it with soup or salad, both of which are made using any available local ingredients. It’s a lunch that will leave your stomach, and soul, feeling nurtured.

Dinner by the fire

Another new spot and an instant favorite is Fire & Hops, the gastropub recently opened by Josh Johns, formerly of Second Street Brewery, and Joel Coleman, back in town from a stint in San Francisco. Coleman is committed to using local ingredients for his menu, and Johns is equally enthusiastic about local tap beers, offering an IPA from La Cumbre, varied selections from Bosque Brewing Company and local ciders. All the lamb for Fire & Hops comes from Shepherd’s Lamb, located 100 miles from Santa Fe at the foot of the San Juan Mountains. It’s organic and, Coleman says, some of the best lamb available in New Mexico. The restaurant uses fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, depending on what’s in season.

Green papaya salad with red onion, dried shrimp, peanuts and toasted rice at Fire & Hops

Green papaya salad with red onion, dried shrimp, peanuts and toasted rice at Fire & Hops

Make sure to try the burger — with a tall glass of beer, of course! Burgers here are made with beef from a co-op of New Mexico ranchers, so you can be sure your burger is completely local. It’s topped with caramelized onions and a bun from Sage Bakehouse, itself a great spot for high-quality baked goods — all the bread is naturally leavened, hand-formed, free of additives, slowly fermented and baked directly on the hearth. This burger is simple, delicious and is quickly becoming one of my favorites in Santa Fe! 

A great place to have dinner, especially when there’s snow on the ground, is Terra Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. Although it’s only 15 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, Terra feels like a world away from the buzz and hum of downtown. The elegant dining room with its cozy fireplace and long rows of windows overlooking the mountains is the perfect spot to warm up on a cold night. Likewise, chef Andrew Cooper’s menu is the perfect addition to our list of restaurants that focus on fresh, local ingredients — not to mention his food is delicious! Cooper is an adamant proponent of local ingredients, and you can find him at the farmers market in Santa Fe twice a week year-round, searching for all things local to incorporate into his menu.

Look for the lamb with Parmesan polenta and wild mushrooms, with lamb from Naturally New Mexico Food Products in Rio Arriba County. Mushrooms are from Freshies of New Mexico, a certified organic farm and participant in the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Cooper uses winter vegetables he can find at the market to round out this dish.

Also worth mentioning is the chicken with spiced pumpkin and bacon bread pudding, winter vegetables and bourbon sauce. The chicken comes from Pollo Real, the first certified organic poultry farm in the United States. The pumpkin is from Gemini Farm in Las Trampas and Cooper uses vegetables that are on offer at the market. Even the bourbon is local, from either KGB spirits or Santa Fe Spirits. Dinner at Terra is heaven for any locavore. 

Handmade papardelle, rabbit confit, wild mushrooms, pearl onions, parmigiano Reggiano at Arroyo Vino

Handmade papardelle with rabbit confit, wild mushrooms, pearl onions and parmigiano Reggiano at Arroyo Vino

Another fun spot to check out for dinner is Arroyo Vino, located just outside Las Campanas. Chef Mark Connell is making some of the most innovative and delicious food in Santa Fe right now. Make sure to check out any of his pasta dishes — all the pasta from Connell’s kitchen is homemade fresh each day. He uses “00” flour (better known as doppio zero in Italian), a finely ground flour commonly used in Italy for making fresh pasta. Eggs for the pasta are local, and if you’re vegan, Connell can make vegan pasta fresh on the spot. Try his rabbit confit with pappardelle — savory, full of flavor and great for a winter evening.

The last bite

Also don’t overlook spots like Vinaigrette, where owner Erin Wade grows produce year-round in the 1,200-square-foot greenhouse at her Los Portales farm in Nambé. Try the spinach-mushroom salad with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, red onion and hardboiled eggs — chickens from Wade’s farm provide the restaurant with fresh eggs daily.

Be sure to check out Dr. Field Goods Kitchen, where chef Josh Gerwin uses farmers market ingredients and local meats. The enchiladas are to die for, made with local free-range chicken or buffalo, New Mexico red or green chile and local cheese. 

Need a meal on the run? Bang Bite Filling Station Food Truck is a great stop for lunch. Salsas are homemade, with ingredients roasted on site. Try a bowl of black bean and turkey chili, with beans from the farmers market and turkey from Los Lunas, New Mexico.

A selection of classic cheeses at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

A selection of classic cheeses at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

If you feel like staying in on an especially cold night, Santa Fe is host to two new markets for high-quality meats and cheeses, The Real Butcher Shop and Cheesemongers of Santa Fe. The Real Butcher Shop features grass-finished, organic and heritage meats and charcuterie and is Santa Fe’s first whole-carcass, farm-direct, producer-owned butcher shop. Cheesemongers of Santa Fe is a specialized grocery store offering more than 100 cheeses, many of which are domestic. Small-scale and farmstead goods are emphasized, and the shop works closely with local and regional producers to stock local products ranging from mustards and chutneys to honey and pickles.

It’s winter. The trees may be bare, the ground hard as stone and the skies a bit grayer, but there’s no shortage of fresh, healthy food in Santa Fe, a food lover’s paradise all year long. 

More Information

Originally published in the Santa Fe, New Mexican’s Winterlife Magazine, November 2014

Winter Cocktails


More winter cocktails from some of the most talented bartenders and mixologists in New Mexico!

Kentucky Bramble

From Quinn Stephenson, Coyote Café and Geronimo Restaurant

 ¾ ounce lemon juice

2 ounces Basil Hayden bourbon

4 large blackberries

½ ounce allspice dram

1 ounce crème de mure

garnish: blackberry coated with powdered sugar

In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle the blackberries and lemon juice. Add crushed ice and the remaining ingredients. Stir gently. Garnish with a powdered sugar coated blackberry.

Ginger Bellini Punch

From Natalie Bovis, editor of The Liquid Muse and author of Edible Cocktails: From Garden-To-Glass

½ cup white peach purée or peach nectar

⅓cup ginger-infused simple syrup

½ cup lemon juice

1 ½ cups gin

1 cup sparkling wine (use club soda for a lower-alcohol alternative)

½ cup fresh raspberries

Fill a plastic container (cottage cheese or margarine-sized) with water and half of the raspberries. Freeze to make a large block of ice. Mix the gin, peach purée, ginger-infused simple syrup and lemon juice in a large punch bowl. Stir well. Slowly add the sparkling wine or club soda. Drop the remaining raspberries into the punch for a burst of color. Add the large ice block. Ladle into wine glasses.

 ginger simple syrup:

1-inch size piece of fresh ginger root, peeled (use more if you want more of a ginger kick)

2 cups sugar

1 ½ cups water

Bring the water and sugar to a low boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer briefly and then remove from heat. Add ginger pieces and let stand for 30 minutes to cool. Strain.

Hot Milk Punch

From Chris Milligan, Beverage Manager and Mixologist at Secreto Lounge at the Hotel St. Francis

 1 dash nutmeg

1 dash ground clove

1-2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1 ½ ounce dark rum

5 ounces whole milk (don’t skimp here!)

garnish: cinnamon stick

Warm the milk over medium heat to 165 degrees. Meanwhile, combine the nutmeg, clove, sugar and rum in the bottom of a coffee mug or tea cup. Top with the warm milk and stir with the cinnamon stick.

Between the Sheets

From Adam Kerr, Food & Beverage Director and Holly Suazo, Assistant Food & Beverage Director, at Doc Martin’s Restaurant at the Taos Inn

1 ounce Santa Fe Spirits apple brandy

1 ounce Appleton Jamaica white rum

1 ounce Grand Marnier

¼ ounce lemon juice

garnish: orange twist

 Combine the brandy, rum, Grand Marnier and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


From Oscar Nieves, Head Bartender at Zinc Restaurant

1 ½ ounce cinnamon-infused Jim Beam whiskey

1 ounce sweet vermouth

2 dashes cherry bitters

garnish: cherry

 In a shaker filled with ice, add the whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Stir and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.