The Legacy of Lynn Walters

Lynn Walters by Kate Russel

© Kate Russel

For more than 20 years, Lynn Walters has led a revolution that has transformed how children and their families eat. Sparked by an idea that hands-on learning in public schools could empower children and families to make healthy food choices, Lynn nurtured a small nonprofit from three volunteer chefs to a nationally acclaimed organization that has changed the lives of countless kids in Santa Fe and around the world.

Now Lynn is stepping away, ready for a change and confident that Cooking with Kids will continue to impact lives under the new leadership of Anna Farrier. “When we started in 1995, few programs used real food to teach nutrition,” she said during an interview over breakfast in the rambling garden at Harry’s Roadhouse. “That’s changed, and now there are lots of programs. Cooking with Kids can really serve as a resource for other communities. I’ve been thinking about this for the past few years, and it’s time to pass the baton.”

Lynn didn’t set out to become a chef with a desire to change how kids eat, although she’s long had a love of food. “I had a great sweet tooth growing up,” she said with a smile before taking a bite of buckwheat pancakes with wild Maine blueberries. “My grandmother came to the U.S. from Poland in the early 1900s. She made delicious apple strudel, borscht and other Eastern European delicacies. I watched her cook, fascinated. My family loved food, and cooking was an important part of our lives. My dad would grind his own flour to make bread. My mom taught me to bake cakes, and I loved the magic of baking.” Continue reading

Seghesio Family Vineyards – 2016 Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta Honoree

ted-at-crusherThere are times when sheer hedonism influences a wine selection—no need to impress friends or drink the wine currently in demand or in style. You just want a wine that tastes good with barbecue, roast turkey, green and red chile, or any other comfort food that calls for red wine. And indeed, there’s a wine that can do that—Zinfandel. Not the pink stuff, White Zinfandel, but the wine that’s been produced in California for over 150 years. And among producers, one of the best for this varietal is Seghesio.

The Seghesio Family Vineyards’ history begins with the arrival in Sonoma in 1886 of Edoardo Seghesio. Born in 1860, Edoardo left Piedmont (Piemonte) in Northern Italy in 1886 and emigrated to Sonoma. He purchased a house and 56 acres, and planted his “home vineyard” in Alexander Valley some years later, establishing the winery’s life-long love affair with Zinfandel. The varietal was cherished by the farmers transplanted from Italy because the wine can be prolific and retains its acidity in warmer climates. In 1902, Edoardo opened the family winery. Later, he bought an additional 120 acres in Northern Sonoma, an area Italian families likened area Tuscany. There, Edoardo planted the now-oldest vineyards of Sangiovese in North America, and his business continued to thrive. Prohibition began to have its effect in 1920—of the 2,000 wineries in operation in the United States, only 100 survived. Alas, Seghesio was one of them, but it re-opened to begin a successful bulk-wine business that continued until 1993. 

Even after Edoardo’s death in 1934, his widow, Angela, continued to run the winery successfully. Finally, in 1983, the family bottled its first wines under the Seghesio name. Within 10 years, production had grown to 130,000 cases, but the portfolio lacked focus. The family eliminated all but the wines that came from grapes grown on the estate and from specific growers, eventually reducing production to 30,000 cases. Edoardo and Angela’s great-grandson, Ted Seghesio, is a fourth-generation winemaker. He and several other family members are involved in the vineyard’s day-to-day operations. Despite the sale of Seghesio to the Crimson Wine Group, one cannot help but feel it’s still very much a family business. Continue reading

Santa Fe and Chile Fiesta’s Gran Fondo

12063762_1192261697456536_4582515969682001099_nWrapping up this month’s week-long extravaganza of good cheer, otherwise known as The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, will be the third Annual Gran Fondo Bike Ride. If you’re into road biking and would like to hang with a great crew of celebrity chefs, vintners and pro riders, you might want to take it easy Saturday night, as the event starts at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado at 6:30 a.m., Sunday the 25th, with your pick of 45-, 75- or (for the extra-motivated) 100-mile loops.

I recently caught up with two celeb riders to get the scoop. Tim Duncan is executive VP of sales and marketing at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa Valley. The winery, a long-time participant in Wine & Chile, was founded in 1972 by Tim’s dad and has made a name for itself producing, as reported in the WSJ, an “upfront” Cabernet Sauvignon. Tim’s been into cycling since he was a kid, and has done three centuries this year. “The most recent one was called ‘The Death Ride’ in the Sierra Mountains south of Lake Tahoe. It’s a tough one,” he says. “A hundred twenty-eight miles, and 15,000 feet of climbing, all in one day. So my buddies and I seem to think that’s fun.”

While chef and owner of The Compound, Mark Kiffin, was taking a breather between lunch and dinner in the kitchen office, we met for a talk. “I started cycling in Pebble Beach,” Mark says. “When I opened up the Inn at Spanish Bay, which was in ’87 to ’89. It was a sport I enjoyed and was pretty good at—for me.” Mark continues, revealing his great sense of humor, “It got me out of playing golf. I’m like, ‘Oh good! I can do this and I don’t have to do that any more.’ Learning to golf in Pebble Beach is like learning to ski on the top of Aspen Mountain. No pressure at all!”

Riding, it turned out, provided Mark with a much-needed release from work. “What I like about riding a bike is there’s one seat,” he explains. “When you’re in the hospitality business—and I love this business, I’ve been in it my entire life, but I go out to dinner six nights a week basically; I just want to go by myself. You have to learn, ‘Be here now.’ Stay focused. Ride your ride.” Continue reading

I Heard it on the Grapevine

plumpjack_17September marks the most important milestone of the year (in the northern hemisphere) for winemakers, grape growers, oenophiles and anyone else whose career or pleasure depends on vitis vinifera—harvest. The previous season’s pursuits hang in golden and purple clusters on rows of vines from California to France. Workers pick tons upon tons of grapes and winemakers endure sleepless nights monitoring the progress of fermenting juice. But for those lucky enough to live in Santa Fe, September promises a week full of great food, wine and general revelry with the annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta. With over 150 participating wineries, importers and distributors (not to mention the incredible lineup of local restaurants), and the celebration of the event’s 25th year, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the best Fiestas yet. This year’s participating wineries have a lot to report since last year’s festivities, including a slew of awards, new winemakers, the introduction of new wines and even a marriage or two.

Silver Oak Cellars, SFWC’s Honoree of the Year, acquired full ownership of a Missouri-based cooperage producing American oak barrels. Founded in 1972 by Raymond T. Duncan and Justin Meyer, Silver Oak makes two Cabernets—one from Napa Valley and the other from Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. New winemaker Nate Weis (formerly of Antica Napa Valley) will have the opportunity not only to hand-select grapes, but to hand-select staves for the barrels in which his wines will age. Talk about quality control!

CADE, perched high up on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, was created in 2005 by the founders of Plumpjack Winery as a compliment to that label’s valley-floor wines. CADE had reason to celebrate this year, as winemaker Danielle Cyrot released the first wines she nurtured all the way from vine to bottle. A graduate of UC Davis, Cyrot has worked harvests at Schramsberg and Artesa Vineyards in Napa and has worked for wineries in Alsace, France and South Australia. Danielle will continue to lead CADE in its commitment to sustainability—the winery was the first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Gold Certified in the Napa Valley. Continue reading

Still Roasting and Crushing 25 Years Later: Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta



While other national food and wine events focus on globetrotting celebrity guest chefs, national magazine advertisers or Food Network stars (some of whom have never worked in a restaurant), the identity of The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, since its inception in 1991, has always been and still is the Santa Fe restaurant community.

On a bright and slightly cool afternoon in the Santa Fe railyard on the last Saturday of September 1991, a one-day food and wine event took place where, for $10, you could buy a coupon book with 10 chits, each one redeemable for either a taste from one of the 20 participating Santa Fe restaurants or a sip from one of 20 California wineries. Forty tasting booths were lined along the perimeter of the L-shaped parking lot behind the Sanbusco Market Center. In the front corner, a street vendor slowly turned the handle on his chile roaster, blistering a fresh batch of Hatch green, the smoke wafting into the crisp fall air.

In a smallish tent on the opposite corner, three of the founders of modern Southwestern cuisine—Mark Miller of Coyote Café in Santa Fe, Rick Bayless of Topolobampo in Chicago and Stephan Pyles of Routh Street Cafe in Dallas—took turns demonstrating their chile-cooking techniques.

That day, I worked the Coyote Café booth, quickly flipping griddled corn cakes and seared shrimp, then plating each with a smidge of chipotle butter and a spoon of salsa fresca. My co-worker, Sarah, swapped our samples for coupons with the lively wine-supping crowd of 300. Looking up from my hot flattop under the clear high-desert sky, I had no way of knowing that I was witnessing the birth of the inaugural Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, now going stronger than ever at age 25. Continue reading

Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta-The Big Buzz

What’s the motif of our local palaver? Family-owned, independent businesses, right? Put your napkin where your mouth is at Andiamo! Opened in 1995 (so, let’s see? 20 years! Shut up!), this bungalow—convivially remodeled recently—at 322 Garfield Street, a stone-fruit-throw from the Railyard, puts up classic Italian fare and a list of brilliant wines. Joan Gillcrist and husband Will Strong must be good bosses, because you’re welcomed by longtime manager Brenda Acosta and even longer-time executive chef Esteban Parra.

While we’re at it, we take our hats off to 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar and Il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen, also 20-somethings.

**Here’s a tip about Modern General, Erin Wade’s newest venture: put on the feedbag! Modern General serves food all day, but the trick is to hit it between 8 and 11 a.m. or, say, 3 to 5 p.m. when the shared parking lot isn’t so crowded with folks eating at Wade’s Vinaigrette. Snag a breakfast sandwich, or their “daily” sandwich special, or my go-to sautéed greens in broth topped with a perfectly poached egg. Sure, ogle fine garden tools, books, pitchers, kitchen towels; be hip and sip smoothies, coffees, teas; do a turmeric shot with fresh orange juice; or take home flour, ground weekly on their new mini stone mill. But, if it gets hard to park during those off-hours, I’m going to wish I hadn’t told you. Continue reading