If anyone really wants to learn about any aspect of a particular culture — say cuisine for example — the best way would be to go to the source. See the video here.
That’s exactly what a group of 12 chefs from New York state do yearly, and this year their focus is the Southwest and their destination is New Mexico, including Taos.
Executive Chef Chris Maher’s classes at the Cooking Studio Taos held in his El Salto home are 100 percent hands-on participation and learning. Participants discuss, assign, cook and then sit down to feast on what they have prepared together. Born in Egypt, Maher, also an actor who has appeared in many TV shows (such as “The West Wing,” “Law & Order” and “24”) and films (2002’s “Enough” and most recently in the upcoming comedy “Men Who Stare at Goats” starring George Clooney), turned to cooking classes and creating his own brand of food products, Caleb & Milo salsas and eggplant spread, after selling the Arroyo Seco restaurant Momentitos de la Vida.
For a few hours Maher’s fragrant kitchen was a classroom filled with white aprons and chef’s coats, big pots being stirred with long wooden spoons, cutting boards heaped with minced and chopped tomatoes, green herbs and garlic — the chef’s palette.
A dozen chefs from country clubs in the Westchester County and Long Island areas of New York started their Southwest experience in Santa Fe and moved up to Taos on Wednesday (Jan. 14). They came in search of knowledge of dishes like green chile stew, posole, calabacitas and adovada.
Their purpose is to take this knowledge and infuse it into their menus back home. The group has been doing this for years visiting restaurants and home kitchens around the country and world. In 2008, the chefs went to the Pacific Northwest and the year before that Peru.
While in New Mexico they’ve learned about not only the preparation of New Mexico cuisine, but the history of Southwestern food. Many things have not come as a surprise to them, but some things have raised eyebrows.
For more on Chris Maher, visit online www.cookingstudiotaos.com or call (575) 776-COOK(2665).
See the video in The Taos News Media Center at www.taosnews.com. For more, read Thursday's (Jan. 22) edition of Tempo magazine inside The Taos News.