Eat An Insider’s Look at SkyFire and the Evolution of Southwest Cuisine
After getting married twenty-eight years ago at the Perry Estate (now Auberge’s Commodore Perry Estate) in Austin, my wife Cara and I honeymooned in Santa Fe over a snowy weekend in January. There was a sense of calm in and around town, and the mountain air was thick with the sweet smell of piñon smoke. Santa Fe is truly a special place for us, so much so that we moved here more than ten years ago to make Santa Fe our home. It’s such an honor to be SkyFire’s Executive Chef, and an integral part of Bishop’s Lodge.
As anyone in town will tell you, Bishop’s Lodge is a landmark institution. It has an incredibly rich history, and for decades, it was considered the most beautiful place to come in the mountains. Families would stay for the entire summer from Texas, California—even New York. I’m blessed to be a part of the team to make Bishop’s Lodge again the crown jewel of the Southwest.
It’s been a total blast to collaborate with SkyFire’s creator and culinary designer, Chef Dean Fearing. I did my apprenticeship under Dean and the rest of the amazing culinary team at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas over thirty years ago. While I’m excited by every single one of the dishes on SkyFire’s menu, the dish that has extra special meaning is Bishop’s Tortilla Soup, revived from my favorite recipe from our days together in Texas. In SkyFire’s version, the super dark, rich soup will be poured tableside over avocado, smoked pheasant, cheddar cheese, and ristas (fried corn tortilla strips). For a special stamp, I worked with local ceramicist Kimmy Rohrs of Whiskey and Clay (who just happens to be my neighbor) to create beautiful custom bowls and soup-pour vessels.
In the late eighties, chefs like Dean, Stephan Pyles (who I also worked with at Routh Street Café and Baby Routh in Dallas), Robert del Grande, and Mark Miller started Southwestern cuisine, a movement of cooking with indigenous Southwestern ingredients. Now with the Farm-to-Table movement, and the surge in locally-produced ingredients, Southwestern cuisine has become even more true to the region, and SkyFire will be embracing local ranchers, farmers, and artists in a big way.
The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is one stellar example of how far the region has come along with indigenous ingredients. Some of my favorite purveyors are Graham Beck and JP Bulow, the two young guys behind Beck & Bulow, who are raising exceptional free-range, grass-fed bison south of town. In winter, Matt Romero of Romero Farms in Dixon will be showcasing all kinds of chiles, heirloom potatoes, squashes, and Southwestern herbs like Mexican marigold and epazote.
The SkyFire team and I can’t wait to introduce you to the region’s extraordinary ingredients and bold Southwestern flavors—all in a one-of-a-kind setting that offers a true sense of place and history.