Alyson Hyder came to Taos from New Zealand in November of 2002 and has been here ever since.
For the first five years after moving to Northern New Mexico, she ran Cottam's hotel in Taos Ski Valley until the 4th of July in 2007, when she was hired as the executive director of the Village of Taos Ski Valley's Chamber of Commerce.
She stayed at the chamber for six years until leaving to work for Taos.org (Market Taos). She was instrumental in the recent push for Taos tourism's current focus, having played a key role in choosing content for the website. Since leaving that position, Hyder has managed the Austing Haus Hotel on State Road 150, the highway to Taos Ski Valley, Inc.
Hearing she had recently and discreetly, opened a food cart in TSV, we checked in with her to find out what she was up to now.
Tell us a little about yourself, your years here in Taos.
I arrived in Taos Nov. 17, 2002, straight from London where I had been a body therapist. I wanted a change of pace and saw a job online, the Cottam's ski shop in Taos, NM. Two weeks later I was hired. I attribute staying here to the Cottams, where they took me under their wing.
In the first summer, when I should have gone back home, I gardened for their own homes and their mother's. The next winter I became the manager of their hotel, Alpine Village Suites, which I managed for four years. My daughter Grace was 2 when I moved on to become the director of Taos Ski Valley's Chamber, where I worked for seven years.
My favorite part of that job was being part of a team, working to make the Chamber stronger, including the website, making the first visitors guide, a guest room directory and working alongside Alejandro Blake on the Taos Mountain Music Festivals.
Every day driving up to TSV I passed The Austing Haus and yearned to manage it one day as it looked like it had so much potential. In the winter of 2018 my dream came true. I made the website for The Austing Haus which led me to ask the new owners, who had renovated the whole place, if I could manage it for them. They said yes.
At the hotel, a 24-room B&B, I rediscovered my love of baking. The kitchen there is huge and we started to offer the most incredible breakfast buffets with lots of baked goods. A signature dish I created was Overnight Blueberry French Toast, laden with blueberries and cream cheese and soaked in custard then baked. The food at the hotel became known and something one of our main amenities. But, I was losing money on the food, and it was a dilemma.
Was that the catalyst for Aly's food cart?
Kind of. So, then I went on the hunt for food carts. Having a cart would enable us to sell more and eliminate waste. I found a cute little cart in Denver on Marketplace and looked at it online for over six months before I took the leap. When my girlfriend went to pick it up she noticed a second cart so I bought two!
The owner of the carts had been building them from kits and had sold 22 over just a few months as COVID hit. He was wanting to move on to other things so he sold me his whole business, two carts, 11 fat-tire electric bikes, ice-cream machines, hot dog rollers and milkshake makers!
My daughter, Grace, is going into her senior year this year and I wanted to be more present. The hotel had me working over 90 hours a week. So, I rented the kitchen at Quail Ridge; prior to me, Common Fire had the kitchen, and there we will be producing baked goods for the two carts.
Tell us a bit about the food you make, and why people are coming back for more?
The menu is Kiwi Food, not as in the fruit, but as in the country - New Zealand, where I'm originally from!
Pies - meat pies, chicken pies, beef beef bourginon pies, sausage rolls, Lolly Cake, home-made ice-cream, and delicious gourmet sandwiches.
Like Cornish pasties (this South African, one-time fellow member of the Commonwealth and interrogator asked hopefully)?
Yes, exactly! You know! People here have no idea. They think pie - and it's chicken pot pie, but they are finding out!
The cart food has been a hit. It is very easy to get addicted to a sausage roll and NEED one every day. I find it quite funny as it is such an easy thing to make and never had any idea that most Americans had not ever had one.
I have always baked, and alongside gardening, it would be one of my favorite things to do. I love seeing people taste something delicious.
One cart will stay up in TSV outside Alpine Village Suites and the second is a traveling cart and will be attending Taos Farmers Market, festivals and events.
We will also be offering poolside food at Quail Ridge this summer from Memorial weekend through Labor Day.
We are open to catering summer parties at the pool at Quail Ridge with finger foods and mini appetizers and even catering for groups renting the beautiful new space Kurt [Edelbrock] has created, which was formerly the Common Fire dining room. It's been repainted and the floors have been resealed and it glows!
After all these years in Taos, have you finally gotten used to seeing the water run down the drain in the opposite direction?
I'm hoping to have more time to notice many things I've missed from taking on such big jobs. It's time for me to have some fun this summer!