Thank you for the great write up in Edible Magazine.
On any given weekend morning, you will find the dining room and patio at Albuquerque’s Farm & Table seated to capacity. Flaky biscuits smothered in green chile sausage gravy are set next to platters of freshly baked sticky buns and heavenly clouds of brioche French toast and whipped cream. Guests sip mimosas while gazing out onto the restaurant’s resident farm, Sol Harvest. The scene is bucolic and elegant, relaxing yet lively. “Brunch has become an enormous part of our identity,” says Carrie Eagle, Farm & Table’s executive chef. “We can have the same number of guests in two days of brunch as we do in four nights of dinner.”
Farm & Table’s brunch menu, like their dinner fare, changes regularly, sometimes daily, to accommodate whatever fruits, vegetables, and foraged finds local farmers bring to the kitchen’s back door. The restaurant boasts that eighty percent of its ingredients—produce, meat, eggs, dairy, flour—at any time are local. Understandably, Eagle finds this commitment both inspiring and challenging. “There’s a lot of math involved with my job,” Eagle says. “When you’re dealing with big-volume farms or food-delivery companies you can make one call and order twenty-five pounds of chard. But when you’re working with dozens of small local farms, you might get eight pounds from Sol Harvest before they’re tapped out, then you need ten from Chispas Farm, and another five from Vida Verde,” Eagle explains. “Then, if there’s a hard frost, there might not be any chard at all, and you have to totally rethink that week’s menu. But that’s at the heart of what we do: we are creative, resourceful, and we represent what New Mexico has to offer.”
Eagle’s right-hand woman at Farm & Table is baker and pastry chef Tracy Johnson. Johnson grew up cooking northern New Mexican cuisine with her mother and grandmother, and Eagle will often consult her on regional dishes. “I taught Chef my family’s red chile recipe (you’ve got to roast your dried chile pods slightly before you blend),” says Johnson, “and if Chef is trying to figure something out, she’ll ask, ‘What would your mom do?’” Eagle says Johnson’s culinary heritage is why Farm & Table has the “best biscochitos in town.” She divulges, “Adding some liqueur makes them unbelievably flaky and crisp.” While Eagle designs Farm & Table’s much celebrated brunch and dinner menus, Johnson’s pastry, bread, and dessert creations can be real show-stoppers (think prickly pear cream puffs and pumpkin cheesecake). Her personal favorite is her Burqueño Road ice cream, which features house-made marshmallow fluff, chocolate, red chile caramel, and piñons. Like Eagle, Johnson must work within the confines of what is local, seasonal, and available. “We had a bumper year for stone fruit, which was great,” says Johnson. “But Chef and I were both hurting for winter squash, which failed all over the city.”
Both chefs took a non-traditional path into fine dining. Eagle had a career in early childhood education before entering the restaurant world as a busser. By age twenty-seven, she had helped start JC’s New York Pizza Department in Albuquerque. With no formal training, she began to work her way up the culinary ladder, eventually managing and cooking for some of the finest establishments in town: Savoy, Taste Catering, Desert Fish, Hotel Andaluz. Before joining Farm & Table in 2015, she headed Colorado’s Dunton Hot Springs Resort restaurant, but she found herself missing New Mexico and looking for a certain type of professional dynamic. “I turned down other job offers so I could work in a team environment [at Farm & Table],” says Eagle. Johnson was an art studio major at UNM before joining CNM’s culinary program. Johnson says baking is able to scratch her artistic itch, while being a more reliable profession than fine art.
Johnson’s been at Farm & Table from nearly its beginning in 2012, and says what keeps her there is the creative collaboration and camaraderie she experiences with Eagle, owner Cherie Montoya, and the rest of their team—including talented sous chefs Gabe Perez and Melanie Sanchez, who execute the brunch shifts. Having an educational component for her staff is important to Eagle. “If the kitchen is excited, that energy yields a better plate of food. That’s why your grandma’s food always tastes so good. It comes from love,” she says. Johnson concurs, “I’ve never worked in a place where people honestly care so much about each other. There’s a real sense of family.”
Eagle and Johnson’s humble, no-nonsense demeanors stand in contrast to many other chefs who wear their egos on their coat sleeves. I ask if they think Farm & Table’s supportive culture has anything to do with having a female-headed kitchen in a restaurant owned by a woman. “I think you could say at Farm & Table there’s an element of women empowering women, but really it’s people empowering people.” When I ask if they’ve experienced discrimination in this male-dominated field, Johnson tells me a couple unpleasant anecdotes, and says that’s one of the reasons she loves this kitchen so much: “Everyone here focuses on work ethic and talent.” Eagle shrugs and says she doesn’t really like the question because “I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about it.” But she admits, “Sure, coming up I experienced resentment from guys who didn’t want to be shown up by a ‘girl.’ But I didn’t get hung up on that. I’ve proved myself.”
Supporting each other and the food community at large are central to Farm & Table’s values. Despite the “unending parade of obstacles” Eagle experiences juggling dozens of local food producers and an ever-changing menu, she says it’s all worth it. “You can’t beat local quality. Serving tomatoes still warm from the sun, greens that have never seen the inside of a refrigerator…I want the best possible experience for my guests.” You can certainly taste that sentiment on the plate, any time of day.
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.
Edible Santa Fe - Albuquerque - Taos
Women & Food - Spring 2014
Read the full article here (Page 28) - http://issuu.com/ediblesantafe/docs/esf-spring-2014
Edible Santa Fe - Albuquerque - Taos
Local Hero Awards - 2013
These awards are determined through reader nomination and a reader poll. We recognize that the Local Food Movement is a grassroots effort, and often involves late nights, backbreaking work, getting your hands dirty, checking your ego at the door, and generally being a good sport. We at edible Santa Fe, and our readers, thank you for your hard work and efforts to build a stronger local economy and a robust local food system.
And the winners are:
Best Restaurant: Il Piatto
Best Chef: Jaye Wilkinson of Farm & Table
Best Café: The Grove Café & Market
Best Retail: Santa Fe Farmers Market
Best Organization: Downtown Growers Market
Best Food Truck: The Supper Truck
Best Food Artisan: Old Windmill Dairy
Best Beverage Artisan: it’s a tie…Gruet Winery and La Cumbre
Best Farmer: Matt Romero
Best Food Writer: we had a three-way tie…Johnny Vee, Deborah Madison, Cheryl Jamison
Olla Award: Henry Rael
Read this full article here - http://ediblesantafe.com/myheroes/#lightbox/0/ Check out page 37 of the online version of the magazine to read the full story http://issuu.com/ediblesantafe/docs/esf-winter-2013
From Albuquerque to Santa Fe
Farm-to-Table Dining for Traveling Texans
Story by Chef Johnny Vee • Photography by Sergio Salvador
"Chiles thrive in their garden so expect certain dishes to be fired up with New Mexico greens, padrons and serranos."
Read the full Edible Dallas article here - http://ediblecommunities.com/dallasfortworth/fall-2013/from-albuquerque-to-santa-fe.htm
See the full Edible Dallas Fall 2013 issue here - http://ediblecommunities.com/dallasfortworth/fall-2013/fall-2013-table-of-contents.htm
Edible Santa Fe Launches Their Annual Local Hero Awards
Farm & Table - Best Restaurant
Thanks to everyone who voted in this year’s Local Heroes poll. We appreciate your input, and knowing who you think are the champions of local food in Northern New Mexico. While we do our best to celebrate our local food heroes in every issue, these awards give our readers and community an opportunity to acknowledge the people on the ground doing the hard work.
This year, we have introduced a special award called the Olla, intended to recognize and encourage individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the realm of good food work in Northern New Mexico, and who are creating a more robust local food system. We invite you to join us in a special awards ceremony at 6pm during the Mixing Bowl Commercial Kitchen & Delicious New Mexico’s annual open house at the South Valley Economic Development Center on December 7, 2012.
And the winners are:
- Farm - Skarsgard Farms & ARCA ORGANICS
- Organization - Farm to Table
- Food Artisan - Heidi's Raspberry Jam
- Beverage Artisan - Marble - Brewmaster
- Mobile Food - Harvest Truck
- Restaurant - Farm & Table
- Chef - Jonathan Perno, Executive chef, Los Poblanos La Merienda
- Retailer - La Montanita Co-op
- Olla Award - Patrick Staib, UNM Research Service-Learning Program Faculty & Sustainable Development Consultant
Story and Photos by Sergio Salvador
"One of Albuquerque's hottest new restaurants has a new head chef. Jaye Wilkinson, who spent the last two years as the sous chef at Los Poblanos Inn, brings her focus on local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients to a kitchen with sensibilities to match: Farm & Table. The menu is changing incrementally, as Wilkinson adds locally grown proteins including lamb, chicken and pork. Popular staples, include the seared diver scallops and seared pork bellies, will remain." -page 53 edible Santa Fe Winter 2012
On the restaurant side of the farm equation, let’s start with the most recent addition to the farm-friendly restaurant pack: the aptly named Farm & Table in the North Valley neighborhood of Los Ranchos. Chef Kaainoa Ravey hails from Hawaii and selects produce literally from the restaurant’s back yard; this is a spot doing the farm-torestaurant thing with full gusto. They call it Sol Harvest Farm, and as of mid-summer fully one-third of the fresh produce is from their own crop; the rest comes from a bevy of local farms from Hip Chiks to Las Palomas Farms to Skarsgaard Farm to the collectives Agri-Cultura in the South Valley and Fresh Collective. Prepared food producers are not left out of the local action, from Heidi’s Raspberry Jam to Lusty Monk Mustards to Joe S. Sausage.
Can't see this document? Click Me