James Beard Event at Coyote Cafe | Everyone's a Critic

By Craig Jack

Restaurant Martin Chef Martin Rios and Coyote Cafe Chef Dakota Weiss

When I started www.topcheftrail.com in 2014 I used as my motivation the show Top Chef and focused on reviewing restaurants that were owned by Chefs that competed on Top Chef. It was a good strategy to get started with but I found that as I expanded I needed a better place to research restaurants in cities I was visiting. I turned to www.Jamesbeard.org

and their annual food-centric awards for American regional chefs and restaurants. This strategy gave me a great list of restaurants for fantastic food experiences all around the United States.

Santa Fe has had several restaurants and Chefs who have been honored with James Beard awards. This year James Beard Foundation has nominated Martin Rios for Best Chef and restaurants Jambo and Zacatlan for awards. What I like about the James Beard Awards is that the Nominees are not all Michelin Star Chefs and Restaurants; many are great local restaurants that anyone with an interest in great food can afford to go to.

This year James Beard restarted it’s City Tastes tour where they hit several great food cities and host a curated food experience. Santa Fe was one of the cities and the James Beard foundation hosted Taste Santa Fe at Coyote Cafe featuring Coyote Cafe’s Chef Dakota Weiss and Restaurant Martin Chef Martin Rios. This event was locally produced by The Liquid Muse Events owned by Natalie Bovis.

The Dinner was a 5 course dinner combined with a Whiskey/Bourbon flight and cocktails by Rabbit Hole and paired Wines supplied by Fiasco Fine Wine and Vineyard Brands.

The event was sold out in a few days and attended by 150 food lovers and from what we could tell had a terrific meal and evening at Coyote Cafe. Keep in mind that this was one of the first big restaurant food events in the last 2 years in Santa Fe and New Mexico so there was a lot of pressure to make it a great evening.


The evening started with an Old Fashioned topped with a Blood Orange. This drink was stiff. It was accompanied with Coyote Cafe’s signature Cornbread with 3 infused butters, Chile, Orange and Caviar. My favorite was Chile because it was a great pairing with the Old Fashion.


The Appetizer was a chilled Skuna Salmon with a Hatch Green Chile Ponzu accompanied with Forbidden Rice and Sunchoke Salad that was paired with a Paul Anheuzer 2019 Blanc de Noir. Skuna Salmon is from Vancouver Island and is perfectly served cold because of its old taste and firm texture. It was served with a Hatch Chile Ponzu Sauce which combines citrus flavors with the bite of New Mexico’s Hatch Chile. The Forbidden Rice with Sunchoke Salad provided some texture and combined well with the Salmon. Overall a great way to start the food experience, it was a fresh chilled bite with a perfect crisp wine pairing that complimented the appetizer.


The second course was a combination of Duck Confit and Pan Seared Duck Breast served with Anjou Pear and Koji Turnip Purée topped with a Chinese Tea Bourbon Reduction. This was paired with a hearty 2016 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair. The dish was a combination of a beautifully pan seared Duck Breast and luscious Duck Confit accompanied with a poached Anjou Pear and Turnip Purée offering a classic taste combination. The purée and reduction sauce had a sweet and slightly tart bite that made the dish perfect. Most Duck dishes use a red wine reduction so it was great to have a new take on a reduction sauce based on Chinese tea and Bourbon. The Duck dish was my favorite and it would have been very satisfying as the main course. What I liked about it was that it was colorful, creative and perfectly prepared. Keep in mind they had to prepare 150 dishes so to do this with Duck that has to be perfectly medium is very brave.


The main course was sinful, Slow Cooked and Roasted Waygu Short Ribs with Duck Fat-Whipped Root Vegetables and Snow Pea-Wild Mushroom Escabeche A Spanish preparation that uses vinegar to provide a vinaigrette with a nice bite. This was combined with an Iberian Chorizo Demi-Glace. The dish was rich beyond comprehension, the Beef was very tender and when you broke it down and combined it with the Purée and the Snow Pea and Mushroom Vinaigrette salad it combined a texture and flavor bomb that stuck to your palette for many hours. The main course was paired with a 2019 Petit Syrah from Robert Biale Vineyards. As you can see from the picture this was a substantial dish that was very rich and satisfying. This is the type of dish you want to have on a cold evening, a very satisfying comfort food meal. I really liked this dish, combined with the Duck we all walked away feeling like we had just had two great entrées.


The evening was completed with a beautiful Chocolate Caramel Dessert that had a self-serve shot of Bourbon Syrup and a flight of four Rabbit Hole Bourbons and Rye.


Wow! That's the best way to summarize this Food Event. 150 people 50+ awesome servers and hosts, 2 great Chefs at a classic Santa Fe Venue. This combined with an amazing tasting menu that was focused on expertly preparing quality meats and vegetables and combining it with the best spirits and wines possible and infusing classic Santa Fe flavors. I am hoping that the James Beard Foundation includes our great City of Santa Fe in 2023.