(upbeat music) – Definitely not in Hawai’i anymore. Chiles just hanging around town. Light ’em on fire. Pshh. Hope my belly’s ready for this. Me and you buddy. Here we go. Back with another season of Cooking in America. And this time I’m in Santa Fe, and I’ve got a buddy of mine that grew up here that’s gonna show me the ropes. – What up! – What’s up Cliff? – How are you, man? Welcome. Welcome to my hometown. So I got a pork tamale for you and a beef fajita, and we’re gonna set you up in Santa Fe man. You look around, you’ve got natives selling jewelry. The flags of the Spanish conquistadors.
And what this culture is, is also represented in the food of this area. I mean this is one of the only places where your main ingredient is also the main decoration. You’ve got chiles everywhere. And to give you a little bit of context that building right there. Is called the Palace of the Governors. And this is the plaza. This was all established as a capital city like 400 years ago. – Isn’t this country like not even 300 years old? – Yeah, this country’s like 240 some years old. This reaches far beyond the history of the United States. There’s a duality in Santa Fe. We are in the desert.
We’re also at 7,000 feet. You go out to Canyon Road, you got 200 art galleries. There’s more artists per capita than any other city. Its a community that is based on food and creative culture. I’m taking you to Palacio Cafe where my man Damian has been slugging it out at the best chilies spot in town. And after 20 years there. He’s opened up his own spot and I want to start you on the breakfast burrito which is invented here in Santa Fe. This is my secret spot. Hey, Damian, how are you man? – Good nice to see you. – Good to see you too. Good to see you. – Thank you for coming. – This is my friend, Sheldon. – Hey Chef, nice to meet you. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Hi, Maria. – Hello. – You used to work down the street at The Shed. – Yes. – And The Shed was famous for their chile and stuff like that, but now it’s like, you’re on your own spot. – This chile’s better now.
(laughs) – Ah he put it out there. (upbeat music) – What signifies Santa Fe, New Mexican cuisine? – There’s like two truths in New Mexican cooking. One, you can put chile on everything, breakfast, lunch, dinner. And two, everything goes in a tortilla. The biggest misconception, especially in northern New Mexico, is that it’s Mexican. It’s its own thing. It has Mexican roots, but it also is heavily influenced by the Native American culture, a little bit of Tex-Mex thrown in. The original Spanish conquistadors that came through here. So we have chicken enchiladas. I got huevos rancheros. Which is just like corn tortillas, a little bit of chile and eggs. The breakfast burrito. Potatoes, bacon, eggs, cheese, and just smothered. This red chile he stews for like six hours. My show I like to like over-complicate things a little bit. – A little bit? – A little bit yeah. Well a lot. I over complicate things a lot. What people do to breakfast burritos is they’ll add a ton of stuff and then it becomes a sandwich. It becomes a wrap. No, a breakfast burrito is just like get that filling in there as simple as possible and then smother it. – Choose your sauce.
Smother it. (upbeat music) – Straight to the point. – Forget that avocado. No you don’t need all the … – You don’t need the avocado. You don’t need all the other stuff. This is all you need. The chile here is like a religion. The state question in New Mexico is red or green? And that refers to do you want green chile or red chile, but if you want both you just say Christmas. So the red and the green you taste the different right? It’s the same chile. It’s classified under Hatch which is actually a town. It’s just at different stages. So the green is when it’s younger. So you basically take the green and you put it in the big canisters and you roast it over open fire.
In the fall. You drive around and you roll your windows down. – Oh shoot. – And there’s a smell that permeates throughout the city. You know it’s the season. Then you peel off the outside and then you stew it very simply. Maybe salt, a little onion powder, sometimes cumin. And the red. You take the red and you dry it out. And you’ll see these things called ristras hanging. They’re beautiful decorations but it’s also food. Either rehydrate it or grind it into a powder. That’s the basis for the red chile here. And so anything under it. Keep it as simple as possible and let that chili shine. – So you grew up here. – Yeah this is my home. I was born in the South Pacific but I’ve been here since I was a kid.
My mother came from the South Pacific to go to college. She could barely speak English. She used to have to tape record her classes and she’d go home and she’d translate them. Growing up here I’d go out to eat and this is all the food I’d have and then I’d go home and have Japanese food. In Santa Fe that totally worked. Our tag line for Santa Fe is the city different. People have come here for a sense of healing. In the 50’s it was about tuberculosis. The elevation and the dry air and stuff. People find spiritual cleansing here. Emotional cleansing here. It also has one of the highest PhD rates but at the same time it’s like “Oh my shoulder hurts I better go see my acupuncturist.” One of the highest gay and lesbian populations per capita in the US. – The box is larger than the city itself. – Yeah. And economically there’s a duality too. Santa Fe is a very wealthy town and it’s also a very impoverished town.
Not a lot of Native Americans live in Santa Fe too. They’re usually out on the reservations. Cause I was very blessed. My mom was the principal of the Santa Fe Indian School. So I actually spent a lot of time on reservations growing up. The food there when you get it, you sit down in these people’s homes on feast days and there’s these pots of chiles that have been roasting for a long time and breads out of wood ovens. And it’s a culture that is on display but as business owners in Santa Fe is heavily under represented. There’s not a lot of Native restaurants. Can’t even think of any that really exist. – And you would think that this is where you would come to experience that. – Yeah. And people come to feel close to that.
You know the pottery, the turquoise jewelry that they make and, the silversmithing they do is second to none. Well how close do you get to really experiencing that culture without it kind of being through a commodity? I can’t speak for the Native American community because I don’t know the answer to this. But would I like to see more of it? Yeah. I would just like to see integration more than commodification. – New Mexican food. Why isn’t it part of the new American wave? – Because what makes it great also limits it. What makes New Mexican food so special is that chile. And if it’s not from here. It’s not gonna taste the same. I want everyone to know what this is about. But I want people to have it in the context of this city. When you eat this and you walk outside all this makes sense.
And green chile is like a gateway. I mean you have chefs coming in and trying to introduce foods from other cultures. They’ll throw like a little green chile on thing. Like come on. Come here. And then we’re gonna slowly slide in other things. Speaking of that there’s one thing. This is New Mexican Robitussin. This is just green chile stew. If you’re sick. Let me make you some green chile stew. Oh you’re auntie died. Let me make you some green chile stew. The congratulatory and also ailment cure for everything. – What car payment. – Yeah, yeah. – I’m good. – You behind on your rent. Here’s a little this … – Off the showers. (laughs) – This chile is our welcome mat. – The red carpet of chile man. – Yeah. The red chile carpet. (laugh) Thrown down. – Pork adobo, oxtail soup, lao lao, and loco mocos. I’m excited to taste a little bit of Hawaii. (upbeat music)