March Cuisine Scene

Lynn Cline - March 1, 2017

James Beard nominations, chocolate tours and more

In the James Beard Spotlight

Corks were popping at Arroyo Vino after news broke that Colin Shane is a semifinalist for the 2017 James Beard Rising Star Chef Award. Shane, a New Mexico native, has been with the restaurant almost since it opened four years ago, rising from sous chef to executive chef, and his food is simply sublime.

Shane's creative cuisine features seasonal ingredients, many grown on the restaurant's onsite farm and used in such delectable dishes as fried Brussels sprouts with maple aioli, red onions and mint; parsnip risotto with carnaroli rice, Parmigiano Reggiano, black truffles and thyme; and Hawaiian Bigeye Ahi Tuna with red miso, sweet potato, kumquat, edamame, hakurei turnip, black quinoa and fried seaweed. His Pork Belly & Grilled Octopus with saffron aioli, Romesco sauce, green olives, chorizo oil, citrus segments and Marcona almonds is a big hit on the current menu, along with Muscovy Duck Breast, charred radicchio, pomegranate, spiced walnuts, celeriac, Asian pears, and citrus glaze.

A New Mexico native, Shane started his culinary career in Gainesville, Fla. as a line cook at Mildred’s Big City Food, a job he took in 2011 in between international tours with his punk rock bank. He decided to switch gears while working here, and instead of getting back on the tour bus, he returned to New Mexico in 2012 and went to work under Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín. He moved on to the two-star Michelin restaurant Quince in San Francisco and later, to Amass in Copenhagen to work with Matthew Orlando, former head chef of Noma. Shane arrived at Arroyo Vino as sous chef in the summer of 2013 and became executive chef in November, 2014.

In 2015, Shane won bronze representing New Mexico at the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs “Best Young Chef Competition” in San Diego at the Art Institute of California. That same year, Arroyo Vino was voted one of OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in America. But the coveted James Beard nomination—the equivalent of an Oscar nomination in the food world—elevates Shane to a new culinary stratosphere.

We're lucky to have him here in Santa Fe and if you haven't yet tasted his food, now's the time. Arroyo Vino is offering Family Meals this month—on March 2, 16 an 30 at 5 pm—a prix fixe meal offered in Santa Fe's slower months, featuring first course and dessert served at the table family style. Each dinner is based on a theme and past themes have included French bistro, rustic Italian and American-style Chinese.

Find out if Shane is a James Beard nominee finalist when they're announced on March 15. The winners of this year's James Beard swards will be announced on May 1.

All About Chocolate

If you're a fan of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” (I read Roald Dahl's book many times as a kid), then you won't want to kiss Cacao: The Art and Culture of Chocolate's Chocolate Factory Tour. Led by Cacao's chocolate maker and roast master Derek Lanter, the one-hour tour reveals the mysteries of the chocolate-making process, from roasting and winnowing to grinding, and tempering. Of course, the tour includes samples of Cacao's handmade bars and other products. Tours take place at 11 am on most Saturdays and kids 12 and under are free. (No golden ticket necessary for this tour...)

Chocoholics will also want to sign up for the Food of the Gods tour, a two- hour chocolate immersion workshop. “We guarantee you will never look at chocolate the same way after participating in this fun hands- on chocolate experience” promises Cacao's website. Led by Cacao's master chocolatier Melanie Boudar, the workshop explores the growing and harvesting of cacao as well as fermentation and drying of the beans and the critical roasting step, done in the factory. Then roll up your sleeves to crack, winnow and grind the beans into a paste and create your own signature drinking chocolate, selecting spices and sweetness level. Next, sample seven chocolates from different origins, including Hawaii, the only state in the country with the right chocolate-growing conditions. You'll learn fascinating facts, delve into Meso-American chocolate history and take a tour of Cacao’s chocolate factory. Boudar will share her and Lanter's adventures in Venezuela, Belize, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Europe as they searched for the world's finest chocolate. The tour takes place Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Photos Courtesy of Arroyo Vino