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Sunday, 27 September 2015 13:23

Edible Santa Fe Local Hero: Farm & Table, Best Restaurant - September 2015

Read the interview with Cherie Montoya.

What inspired you to open Farm & Table?

Ten fertile acres of farmland, three hundred sixty days of sunshine, a beautiful adobe building, the sentimentality of preserving agricultural space in the North Valley, cultural heritage, and most importantly the idea of a huge, like-minded community joining together around food—these were the kernels of inspiration for me to open Farm & Table. This inspiration keeps growing and changing, just as our seasons do. They run parallel to our challenges as the years go by, and they symbiotically keep us, the Farm & Table team, on our toes, constantly growing and evolving.

What do you love most about your work, as it relates to local food?

Food grown locally with love, and care without pesticides and herbicides. It tastes good, is good for you, and good for our local economy.

Participating in local food is a way to honor our land, our water, and the people that grow and raise it. It encourages community and sharing. It helps us to be better stewards of the land, be more mindful of our precious resources, or lack thereof, here in New Mexico.

Being able to work with over sixty-five local farmers, ranchers, dairies, cheese makers, winemakers, brewers, and food artisans is so amazing. Not only do we contribute to our local economy, but we also connect people. We encourage dialog and education between farmers and chefs, and then to our guests. It’s a beautiful, reciprocal relationship and it creates meaningful experiences on so many levels. While this model is extremely challenging, it’s even more so rewarding—truly a gift.

Who inspires you?

My father is my hero. He purchased the beautiful property that Farm & Table is situated on to save it from being turned into a forty-house development. He put his heart and soul into the land by bringing in irrigation and then growing grass and alfalfa. He rotates cattle through this property and other neighboring properties. This beef is now worked into a whole animal program at Farm & Table. We have created a sustainable program that utilizes the entire beef at the restaurant.

My aunt Teresa who kept alive the simple practices of my grandparents also inspires me. A simple garden, fruit trees, and a few animals can keep a family fed almost all year long with proper preserving and mindful utilization. My aunt, who also has a full time job, has been able to do this and it informs much of my work.

Where do you like to eat?

I love to eat. I like to eat at Farm & Table, of course. Besides that, I eat at home, for a quick bite I always go to the deli at La Montanita Co-op or any of our awesome Albuquerque food trucks. For dinner and drinks I like to go to MÁS. Not only do I love Chef Caruso’s food, but I also love the beautiful atmosphere of Hotel Andaluz. I also love Artichoke Café and the many other local Albuquerque staples.

Why do you do what you do at Farm & Table?

Besides making a living, I want to do so with heart, soul, and no compromise. I am satisfyied to know that Farm & Table contributes in a real and meaningful way to our local economy and our community. Working with many local farmers is a win for all involved, and pushes the local food movement ever forward. This is good for everyone who cares about local food. I honor and respect people who grow and make local food, beer, and wine so we can turn it into a wonderful dining experience.
I love being a part of my community. This simple concept is really the essence of Farm & Table—a community of like-minded people coming together to have meaningful experiences with food, culture, and art.

Do you have any specific stories about Farm & Table that epitomize the heart of the business?

Many said it couldn’t be done or the concept is not viable in New Mexico. We, as a community, proved that a true farm to table restaurant could work. Local food can be a successful endeavor when like-minded people work together as a collective.

I work with the best crew ever. Everyone on my team has a superpower, and everyday they put those to work to make Farm & Table shine! Everyone in my kitchen respects food at its essence and they take their craft very seriously. It makes me proud to know that each dish is prepared with that foundation.

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