Chris Maher is one of Taos’ most accomplished and creative residents.
The founder of one of Taos’ best eateries, a working actor and a world-class chef, Chris is another reason Taos is so special. An involved father (of two sons, one from a previous marriage, one shown here, cooking) and a devoted husband – his wife Valerie is also his business partner, Chris is constantly on the go. I managed to get him to sit still for a few minutes to answer a few questions for taoStyle.
Q You’ve been cooking for a long time – you started a great restaurant here, now Sabroso – can you elaborate on that?
A I think good restaurants come from the soul of the chef/owner. With Momentitos de la Vida (in the space that I created in all its beauty that now is operated under another establishment called Sabroso), I wasn’t just trying to create a restaurant where people came to eat, I wanted to create an entire experience. We overcame many hurdles starting the restaurant – labor however, always proved to be a challenge in New Mexico. As a young man working in a restaurant, I was trained by the great restaurateur, Drew Nieporent, to take pride and love what you do, or move on. When you entered my restaurant, it was like you were entering my home. It was clean, comfortable and elegant, yet had a warm and cozy feeling. That is what I wanted for my guests – to set the stage and then deliver an incredibly tasty plate. We made many friends at Momentitos de la Vida, who are friends to this day and I met my wife there too!
Q I know that you have also had an acting career for many years…a little backstory please?
A I continue to have an acting career to this day. My entire life I have made my living by being in front of a camera, or behind a stove. My two passions. I have appeared in over 100 TV episodes, from shows such as Hill Street Blues back in the 80s to NCIS, Law & Order, Westwing, to more recently, Legend, State of Affairs and others. I have also appeared in numerous films – Men Who Stare at Goats, Best Defense, Enough, Executive Decision, Mannequin among others. See my brief online resume below for acting:
Q Where and how often do you do your very popular Secret Suppers?
A We host these dinners at least once a month, always a sold out event! We have many repeat customers and it seems we are always adding new customers, which is wonderful. Many come when they are in town and occasionally we have out-of-town guests that have the good fortune to be here and can attend. We host them all over – private homes, art galleries, bed and breakfasts.
Q Cost per person?
A We keep them reasonable, it varies somewhat depending on where we host and averages about $78 per person plus gratuity, so anyone can join us again and again. We always serve 5 courses.
Q Anything else you might want to add about the food?
A In the true essence of farm to table, most of the vegetables we incorporate in our dinners and with our cooking school (season dependent) come from our own organic garden! Valerie is our gardener – she has always loved plants and vegetables and has a green thumb she accredits to her grandmother (who recently passed away in Tennessee at the age of 97) and her mother.
Q You also offer cooking classes, can you tell us a little about that?
Our primary business is our Culinary School – recreational cooking classes that happen year round at our location. They also happen in people’s homes all over the country and sometimes outside the country. We also incorporate team building events and have worked with some very high-caliber organizations with our own unique philosophy that has worked successfully with some smaller to mid-size organizations as well as larger companies. We have worked with dental practices, telecommunications, Pepsico, Whole Foods and many others.
One of our favorite quotes from a student in Austin, TX – ” I have done cooking classes all over the world from Paris to Beijing and cooking with Chris has been absolutely my favorite cooking experience! “
Q I presume you cater certain events also?
We also do very high-end, special weddings, events and private Chef Services in Taos and elsewhere….
Q I wonder how many people are aware of the great service you provide for our community?
A We are responsible for over 100 room nights for students coming to Taos each year who also spend money in town shopping, eating & more!
Q Tell us about your wife and partner Valerie.
A Valerie manages our company – the day-to-day marketing, sales, employee and other aspects of our business. She holds an international MBA and has always surrounded herself with artists and creative people, running their businesses. She has always wanted her own business so finds Cooking Studio Taos our collaboration perfect! We feel our strengths complement what we do best and are so proud of our business. She has traveled extensively around the world, has lived in France twice and loves living in Taos full-time. She grew up in Connecticut and lived in Boulder (as a college undergrad), Texas and Tennessee.
For much more information on Chris and Valerie and what they do, please visit their website linked below this post
UPDATE: On Cinco De Mayo I attended a Secret Supper with Alyson Hyder. It was a five course meal to remember – a delicious and creative spin on traditional Mexican food – Mole with fish?
The dinner guests were a great assortment of Taosenos – I sat next to Dave Hahn whom I discovered after the fact, has scaled Mt.Everest more than anyone, and had great conversations about everything but mountaineering!
It really is a great way to meet people you might not otherwise, and the food is fabulous!
All Photographs c/o Chris Maher