Originally from Mexico City, Chef Fernando Olea has been enthralling diners in Santa Fe since 1991. Chef Olea creates sophisticated flavors using Old Mexico’s indigenous and culinary traditions alongside ingredients from around the world. He has been actively involved in the local community while representing the Mexican culinary culture in Santa Fe and abroad.
Some of the organizations and events he has been involved in include:
Past President of the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta
Iron Chef Participant, Toronto, Canada
President, Founder of the Mexican Restaurant Association of the US & Canada
Past President and CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association
Recognized by Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, for his involvement in the Cooking with Kids organization
Received the 2020 Faces of Diversity Award from the National Restaurant Association
Chef Olea is well known for his exquisite moles, a sauce of complex flavors that usually includes toasted and ground spices, seeds, nuts, chocolate and chile. Many mole recipes contain more than thirty ingredients and some recipes have five varieties of chile alone.
Executive Chef Cristian Pontiggia hails from Northern Italy. Sassella provides a unique stage to highlight Chef Pontiggia’s culinary artistry.
He brings the underlying tradition of fine Italian dining into contemporary world cuisine, producing innovative dishes that are a delight to the eye as well as the palette. Chef Pontiggia is the recipient of many awards. In addition to working at two Michelin Star awarded restaurants in Europe, he has received awards for cooking and wine knowledge from the Chaine des Routisseurs.
The Italian government recognizes him as a Master Chef and he holds a culinary degree that certifies him as a Doctor of Oenogastronomy.
James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef in the Southwest 2005,” Mark Kiffin, chef and owner of The Compound Restaurant has worked, written and taught in the restaurant industry for more than 25 years. A recognized leader in Southwestern cuisine, Kiffin creates a seasonal, Contemporary American Menu combining the diverse culinary influences of the Mediterranean with those of the New World. In October 2002, Kiffin was recognized in Gourmet Magazine’s Guide to America’s Best Restaurants and in The New York Times as a destination not to be missed with excellent cuisine.
In April 2004, Bon Appétit Magazine calls The Compound “One of the regions best restaurants, showcasing Mark’s sophisticated brand of southwestern cuisine with Mediterranean accents.” Judith Hill of The Santa Fe New Mexican called her experience “Zen like” and refers to Kiffin’s passion and flavors as a personal affair with food. In February, 2004 Kiffin was a featured chef at The Masters of Food and Wine in Carmel, California, where he cooked at two events with the industries most highly renowned chefs.
Chef Martin Rios, and his wife, Jennifer, envisioned a certain ambiance where people from the community, as well as Santa Fe’s many visitors, could enjoy Chef Rios’ award-winning progressive American cuisine. This family-owned restaurant caters not only to tourists, but to a large and local clientele. Martin grew up in Santa Fe and started in the restaurant business at 17, as a dishwasher, working his way up to Executive Chef at several restaurants and hotels.
Chef Rios received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America and supplemented that with experience and training in some of the world’s most honored restaurants and with well-known culinary masters. Chef Rios was a finalist for the James Beard “Best Chef of the Southwest” Award in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and a Semi-finalist for the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 James Beard “Best Chef of the Southwest” Award.
Born in the remote village of La Huacana in the western state of Michoacán, Mexico, Sllin Cruz travelled some 2,700 miles at age 13 to make a name for himself. Without formal training at a culinary school, Sllin worked his way up in restaurants in Park City, Utah and New York, at several award-winning restaurants including Daniel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and DB Bistro Moderne in Times Square. Chef Cruz says he’s been blessed to have had such opportunities.
In 2016 Sllin became Executive Chef of Geronimo and two years later a part owner. Since his arrival at Geronimo, the restaurant has won numerous awards including the AAA Four Diamond Award, Opentable’s Top 100 Restaurants in the US, Forbes 4 Star Award and the coveted TripAdvisor Top 10 Restaurants in the United States.
Market Steer Steakhouse
Everywhere you find Chef Kathleen Crook, big laughter and good food follows.
Chef Crook has always found joy in food and a deep respect for where it comes from. In her hometown of Artesia, NM, nightly supper is akin to worship, with folks in the small-town community eating only what comes from the land. Growing up in Artesia, farm to table was more than a fancy marketing term, it was a way of life. When she wasn’t in school, she was working her Daddy’s farm and her Mama’s steers, or working alongside her Granny Jackie, who ran a local catering business known every bit as much for fun as food.
She was awarded a College Rodeo Scholarship. She traveled the circuit for three years, ultimately winning the prestigious World Champion Breakaway Roper. But in 1997, she felt a tug back to the land and back to food. She hung up her spurs for good and reached for a chef’s knife.
Santa Fe Foods
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