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The best gifts are those that can’t be unwrapped: Sharing experiences with friends and family. Having a laugh. A delicious dinner. Well… all of those boxes can be checked with a gift certificate to Chef Johnny V’s cooking classes! Whether you are on a short visit to Santa Fe or a lifelong local, he offers something for everyone. One of the most beloved personalities in these parts, he is not only fun to hang out with – but also a fabulous private chef for hire and heads the cooking school at Las Cosas Cooking Shoppe in DeVargas Mall.

I have taken several classes with Johnny and had a blast at each one. An ideal class is limited to about 8 people, and each intimate group shares the experience of newly found skills, teamwork, and a yummy meal at the end. (I’ve always left overs to take home, too.) From New Mexican specialties to knife skills to exotic Indian curries, the choice is varied– and when you’re learning from Mr. Personality himself, you’re pretty much in for dinner-and-a-show!

His December schedule includes holiday themes such as “Christmas in New Mexico;” “Christmas Lunch in Umbria;” Chile Fest-Green and Red;” and the “Annual Tamale Roll.” Santa Fe newbies must take “High Altitude Baking for the Holidays”to finally understand why your cakes just aren’t turning out the same at 7000 feet elevation! Johnny V is also a SuperChef with the local Cooking With Kids organization so his “Kids Holiday Cookie Class” is a great way to entertain youngins during school break, specially if don’t have a diy quadcopter even planned out.

Johnny has his own cookbook if you want to take a piece of him home with you (and everyone does…) and he also is partnering with another local cookbook author, Lynn Cline for a “Maverick Cookbook” class based on her tome of the same name.

SEE THE WHOLE SCHEDULE AND REGISTER FOR CLASSES HERE

What’s the saying about “teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Give your loved ones a lifetime of yummy meals by way of Johnny V’s classes… and maybe they will even return the love and cook for you!

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When deciding where to dine in Santa Fe, NM there is no shortage of sumptuous options. From down-home New Mexican food to world-class fine cuisine from award-winning chefs, we have more than most small towns deserve! However, if we were to point out a lack in our culinary landscape, it would be in the more exotic options… and Chef Kim Nath Nou can fill that dinnertime yearning in your own home with Khmer cuisine of Cambodia.

Chef Nath has a fascinating personal background of being Cambodian-born with Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai heritage. Her cooking is uniquely flavorful, bursting with a kaleidoscope of Asian influences. Multiple winner of Santa Fe’s annual Souper Bowl fundraising event, and long time professional chef, you may have sampled some of Chef Nath’s dishes most recently at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen’s popular Thai Nights.

At a recent dinner where Chef Nath served a sampling of her mouth-watering, multi-course Khmer offerings, I came to realize that the biggest difference between caterer and a private chef is the personal connection. Where a caterer would likely prepare food at his / her own facility and come ready to serve it while fading into the background (which is ideal for some events), a Private Chef is part of the dining experience. It’s like turning your dining room into the Chef’s Table at a fancy restaurant.

If you are interested in wine pairings, local wine expert Matt Slaughter is available to accompany Chef Nath for your dinner. Matt brought very unique and expertly paired viniferous delights, including a Malavasia wine from Arizona which was superbly partnered with the soup. When not doing private parties, find him at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen.

Chicken Satay : Roasted organic chicken skewers, marinated in lemongrass-turmeric sauce. Served with cucumber relish and peanut sauce. Wine pairing: Von Winning Riesling

Tom Yum Seafood Soup : Lobster tail, black mussels and shrimp in lemongrass-galangal broth with a touch of tamarind and coconut cream. Seasoned with sweet and sour jalapeno sauce. Garnished with cilantro. Wine pairing: Merkin Vineyards ‘Shinola’ Malvasia Bianca

Lamb Curry : Organic lamb simmered in a tangy coconut-red curry with sweet potatoes, onion, zucchini, bell peppers. French beans and yogurt. Served with Jasmine rice and baby greens salad tossed in a miso-ginger dressing. (*note: I don’t eat red meat so the fish substitute was equally amazing tasting as this lamb dish sounds!) Wine pairing: Chateau du Hureau ‘Tuffe’ Cabernet Franc

Dessert : Coconut ice cream accompanied by rose tea.

Everything we enjoyed was delightfully prepared and Chef Nath came out to check on the group several times. Matt gave fascinating and entertaining presentations for each wine. It was a dinner party to remember!

NOTE: If you live outside of Santa Fe – good news! Chef Nath is willing to neighboring states. Contact her directly for more information.

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