From the heart of the Andes comes Taos chef Roberto Joe Najarro-Huaman

Peruvian cuisine is as varied and rich as a colorful Andean tapestry. Hearty indigenous ingredients have mixed with Spanish, Japanese and African culinary traditions, resulting in a fusion of cultures and flavors.

Originally published in Taos News

Photos: Katharine Egli

Lima-born chef Roberto Joe Najarro-Huaman has been living in Taos for around five years, but still loves to prepare traditional Peruvian meals—when he can find the ingredients.

“My favorite snack is papas a la Huancaína, Huancayo-style potatoes,” he said. “This is a beautiful appetizer, and easy to prepare if you have ají amarillo, Peruvian yellow peppers, available.”

Though it won’t be exactly the same, jalapeños can be used instead of ají amarillo. Below is the recipe, in case you want to surprise your guests with a special appetizer during the holidays.

A versatile business

Najarro-Huaman has been cooking for as long as he can remember.

“My mother used to have a popular food stand in La Victoria, a Lima neighborhood,” he said. “I remember her scrumptious arroz con pollo, which means rice and chicken cooked together. My mom was a great cook and I learned a lot from her. She is still my inspiration.”

He started his own business in San Juan de Miraflores, a busy Lima area, when he was fresh out of high school. He already had a family and needed to support it.

“I opened a small fish shop called Pescadería Roberto and sold all kinds of fish and seafood,” he said. “I made sure that everything was very fresh, and soon people started coming in. By the time I closed it, I had a steady, loyal clientele who wouldn’t buy their fish anywhere else.”

In Peru, businesses are “quite versatile,” Najarro-Huaman says. He also cooked at Pescadería Roberto and offered typical dishes like fish chicharrón and ceviche. Most people have heard of ceviche—fresh fish marinated in lime juice, served with onions, tomatoes and cilantro. But fish chicharrón?

“It is really fried fish, but we called it ‘chicharrón’ because it looks like fried pork skin,” he explained. “Cut the fish in small pieces, coat them in flour, dip them in beaten eggs, and fry them. They will be crunchy and delicious.”

From Lima to Taos

In 2009 Najarro-Huaman left Peru in search of better opportunities. After living in Miami for several months, he moved to Red River and finally to Taos, where he decided to settle in 2010.

“It’s so quiet and nice here,” he said. “That’s what attracted me in the first place. And then the people. I have made lots of friends and we enjoy trading recipes.”

His biggest challenge has been losing the fear to experiment with new ingredients.

“When you come to another country, it can be difficult at first because you are not only dealing with a different culture and language, but also with different flavors and unfamiliar ingredients,” he said. “I am very thankful to Chef Erick, from The Gorge Bar and Grill, who was a real mentor to me. He taught me everything, from the best way to make pasta to the names of foods and cooking techniques in English.”

Now he feels more confident working with local products.

“My Mexican friends are often surprised by the way I play with dishes that they know because I come up with some interesting combinations,” he said. “I use chile, of course, but also add a Peruvian twist, like a side of quinoa in an enchilada dish.”

The queen of Peruvian cuisine

Potatoes originated in The Andes and were introduced in Europe by the Spaniards in the 16 century.

In Peru, they have “a hundred ways” to prepare them, Najarro-Huaman said. Not surprising, if you consider that there are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes in the Andean highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

“The potato is called the queen of the Peruvian cuisine,” Najarro-Huaman said. “We have been eating them for thousands of years, since the times of the Incas, in a variety of ways. Here people tend to think of French fries or baked potatoes, but there is a lot more to it.”

A chef’s dream

Najarro-Huaman currently works at Plaza Café at Hotel La Fonda and in Guadalajara Grill.

“I work very hard because I want to bring my four children here,” he said. “They all live in Peru now, but I’d love for them to be in Taos with me.”

To achieve his dream, he hopes to open his own restaurant someday.

“I can offer something that nobody in Taos has,” he said. “It would be a fusion of Peruvian and northern New Mexico cuisine. Everything from chile to chicha (a fermented beverage made from corn or maize), cooked with Andean flavor and heart.”

Plaza Café at Hotel La Fonda is located at 108 South Plaza.

Phone: 575 758 7398

Papas a la Huancaína (Huancayo-style potatoes)

Ingredients:

6 yellow potatoes or 8 Yukon Gold potatoes

½ cup ají amarillo paste or 6 jalapeños, seeded

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 soda crackers

6 ounces fresh or Serrano cheese

1 cup evaporated milk

10 black olives

3 hardboiled eggs, cut in slices

8 lettuce leaves

salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

Boil and peel the potatoes.

Put the ají amarillo paste or seeded jalapeños in the blender, add oil, milk, cheese, crackers, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Blend together until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. It will look like a creamy sauce.

Slice the potatoes.

Cover them with the sauce.

Garnish with lettuce leaves, black olives and hard boiled eggs.

Najarro-Huaman says he's been preparing food for as long as he can remember.

 

 

 

Posted in chef, culinary arts, Taos News | Tagged ,

Two beauty experts converge under one roof at Yucca Plaza

Archuleta (left) and Jennings offer different services, but all are under one roof. “We want to make this a one-stop shop,” said Jenning

If your New Year’s resolutions include taking better care of your skin, Missy’s Organic Skincare and Spa and Bella Pelle (two businesses under one roof at Yucca Plaza) will help you achieve your goal.

Originally published in Taos News

“We want to make this space your one-stop shop for all your beauty needs,” said Missy Jennings, owner of Missy’s Organic Skincare and Spa. “From great facials to awesome eyebrows, we have the perfect solution to all your skin and beauty issues.”

Jennings, who used to be at Camino de la Placita, and Vera Archuleta, owner of Belle Pelle, formerly located on Cruz Alta, moved to the Yucca Plaza location this past November.

They currently offer facials and eyebrow shaping, and will be doing sugar waxing and full body massages soon.

Missy’s Organic Skincare: A line in development

Jennings, a former model, has been a licensed esthetician for about 16 years. She uses her own product line, Missy’s Organic Skincare, that she started in 2005.

One of her most popular products is the Six-Sense Melissa Balm Cleanser. It cleanses, tones, exfoliates, hydrates, has antiaging properties, and helps erase fine lines, sun spots, and other skin problems. “A miracle worker,” Jennings calls it.

She also has a replenish facial moisturizer and a body milk moisturizer. Among her new items are several custom-made masks that she creates taking into account each client’s skin type and personal needs.

“The ingredients include organic chocolate and banana,” she said. “I have a wonderful organic banana peel mask and a refreshing organic lemon peel mask. I design all the products myself and they are locally made at Private Label Select.”

Jennings caters to both a local and tourist clientele.

“I love what I do and will continue to offer the best services in Taos,” she said. “I want my clients to know that healthy skincare is my only focus.”

The eyebrow queen

Well-shaped eyebrows bring out the eyes and highlight them. Jennings has made eyebrow shaping her specialty.

“I custom your brows to your facial features,” she said. “Not just wax and send you on your way! Eyebrow design for me is an art. I take the time to sculpt the brow to each client’s unique facial structure.”

She has also developed a method to help re-grow brows that have been waxed away.

“This is a special technique to stimulate the brows’ hair growth,” she said. “I can take up to a half hour, so be prepared for the perfect brow.”

Janine Carasso is a longtime client of Jennings’.

“Missy is amazing,” she said. “Whenever I come to her, my skin looks younger and fresher than ever. Her facials are phenomenal and she has extreme precision at shaping eyebrows.”

Lessons from an entrepreneur

Since opening her business over three years ago, Jennings feels she has grown as a person and an entrepreneur.

“Some of the very important lessons I have learned is don’t take anything for granted,” she said. “To be successful means to keep a plan and focus on that plan. If you stray and lose sight, you can drop the ball.”

As a product developer, she has made 2017 “the year of the organic skincare product” for herself and her clients.

“That is a very strong focus for me,” she said. “My goal is to continue developing my products in order to sell them online and many other places and to reach a larger volume of people.”

A personal sanctuary

Vera Archuleta dreamed of being an esthetician since she was a teenager. She was inspired by skincare pioneer Danny Neifert, for whom she worked as a receptionist.

“I learned a lot from her,” she said.

Archuleta has been in business for four years now. She offers different kinds of facials as well as neck, arm, shoulder and décolleté hot oil massages.

“I love making my clients feel refreshed and beautiful,” she said. “I also feel soothed and happy when I am giving facials…my work is like a personal sanctuary to me.”

Special deals for Taos News readers

Jennings will offer a $45, 45-minute facial as a New Year Special to those who mention this ad during the months of January and February.

Archuleta will offer a $50 first-time exfoliating facial during the same months.

“Start your new year with a new look,” said Jennings. “We will make you not only look your best, but feel your best. Happy New Year!”

The two businesses are located at Yucca Plaza, 216 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

To schedule an appointment with Jennings, call 845-548-1681.

To schedule an appointment with Archuleta, call 575 770 1654.

Posted in Business story, Taos News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Laura Oest: For the love of food and family

Stella’s 210 is located near the original Stella’s, at 210 Paseo del Pueblo Sur.

There are many reasons why people open their own businesses. For Laura Oest, the reason behind Stella’s Restaurant 210 is her eight-year-old daughter, Stella Oest Romero.

Originally published in Taos News

“I am homeschooling Stella and want to spend as much time as possible with her,” Oest said. “Having the restaurant allows me a lot of flexibility with my hours. And she loves being here too.”

Stella’s Restaurant 210 is actually the second restaurant opened by Oest. The first one was Stella’s Italian Restaurant, which has been in business for six years—she is still involved with it. Before, she was a co-owner of The Downton Bistro.

“Restaurants have been part of my life since I was a teenager,” she said. “I enjoy being around people, serving them good meals and, above all, the warm sense of community that you get out of it.”

The classic tiramisu dessert is on the menu at Stella’s 210.

The menu: flavor and variety

Oest opened Stella’s Restaurant 210 in July this year with a focus on international and New American cuisine.

“The first Stella’s features mostly Italian food, though we incorporated some of our favorites from The Downtown Bistro,” she said. “Here, I wanted to have more variety so I could change the menu often and bring in new dishes every season. My goal is offering a big selection of flavors so people can have food from every corner of the world.”

Most of the menu items are gluten free.

“I am allergic to gluten myself so I know how important it is,” Oest said. “But the best part is that you’d never know they are gluten free! I use rice flour, which is both healthy and delicious.”

A family-inspired menu

Owner/ chef Oest designed the menu herself, drawing inspiration from her own family and background.

“I wanted a dish that reminded me of my dad, who passed away several years ago,” she said. “He was of German descent and mom used to make potato pancakes for him so I created a grilled shrimp dish with potato and corn pancakes, served with a curry cream sauce.”

Her mother’s garden provided the ingredients for the vegetarian paella that she served all summer long.

“It was wonderful, being able to offer food made with our very own vegetables,” she said. “Everything was so fresh!”

Now they offer as a special a paella valenciana made with seafood and a dab of chorizo.

“It’s a classic paella,” Oest said. “Very Spanish-style.”

They just got their beer and wine license and will start serving them as of November 1st.

Laura Oest and her team

Oest is originally from Valdez, a true Taoseña who grew up eating hearty home-cooked meals. Her mother, Nora Oest, was “the best cook ever,” her daughter says.

“She made bread, jelly, apple sauce and apple pies from our own apple orchard,” Laura Oest said. “She canned food, too. We’ve always been close and I was helping her in the kitchen since I was little. That’s why food and family are so connected in my heart.”

Oest has a Bachelor’s in University Studies from UNM-Taos. She loved college, particularly language classes, but she kept gravitating toward restaurants.

“I’ve worked at The Trading Post, Joseph’s Table, The Bavarian, and then The Downton Bistro, that we opened in 2000 with Marco Barbitta,” she said.

Barbitta is her partner in the first Stella’s. He is also involved with Stella’s Restaurant 210. So is Oest’s mother, Nora Oest, who makes many desserts for both venues.

“She is definitely part of the team,” Oest said. “Her chocolate cake is one of people’s favorites.”

Laura Oest makes the tiramisu and the pastel tres leches. Her husband, sheriff’s sergeant Rick Romero, also helps out when he is off duty.

“Together, we rebuilt the patio and made the tables for the restaurant,” Oest said. “This was Dara Thai and had only booths so we needed to do a total renovation.”

Before that, the place used to be Taos Central Station.

“It’s a beautiful location and very much part of Taos history,” Oest said. “We hope that Stella’s 210 becomes a new landmark in the downtown area.”

“I think it will,” Stella Oest Romero chimed in. “It has the best food because… well, my mom makes it. And she is a great cook.”

Stella’s Restaurant 210 is located at 210 Paseo del Pueblo Sur

Phone: (575) 751-1010

Hours: Open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Chef Laura’s recipes

Gluten Free Potato Corn Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups mashed potatoes

½ cup whole kernel corn

1 egg

¼ cup rice flour

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Mix together mashes potatoes and corn. Whisk in egg, rice flour, and olive oil. Cook on high heat on a flat top or in a sauté pan. Place with large spoon same size as regular pancakes. Do not turn until edges begin to brown. Makes approximately 10 pancakes.

Gluten Free Panna Cota

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup milk

½ cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package gelatin

Directions:

Lightly butter 5 containers, preferably round or slightly tapered.

Pour cold milk into a measuring cup and sprinkle in gelatin. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Combine heavy cream and powdered sugar in a sauce pan. Whisk in powdered sugar before cooking and continue to whisk throughout. When cream begins to boil add vanilla and finally add the milk/gelatin, whisking continuously, until fully dissolved and immediately remove from heat. Pour into containers and refrigerate for 4-5 hours. To serve, turn upside down onto a plate. Serve with raspberry sauce.

Stella’s 210 has new menu items and familiar dishes, too. The restaurant now serves beer and wine as well.

Posted in Taos News | Tagged ,

Danielle Kennedy’s spirit figures blend the commonplace, sacred

dan

Kachinas have been originally used by Native people for religious and ceremonial purposes, but they are also sought after by museums and personal collectors.

Story and pictures originally published in Taos News

They are made to represent spirits of the natural world and can personify animals, plants, and even Nature forces like wind and water. Carved and decorated according to their specific functions, they adopt a myriad of shapes and forms.

“Mine are all about Mother Nature,” said artist Danielle Lawrence Kennedy, “so their faces are archetypical and don’t have human features. They are Spirit Figures that convey my love of nature and offer a healing connection to the world.”

Art, teaching and teaching art

Kennedy’s lifelong passion for the arts was ignited when she was a teenager.

“I was sixteen years old when I took an art class in High School,” she said. “I knew right away that I had discovered my calling. But even before that, I always enjoyed making clothes, drawing and painting.”

She attended the San Francisco Art Institute in the mid seventies to study painting, sculpting, and photography, among other art forms.

“However, I had heard that it was hard to make a living as an artist,” she said. “Now I know that this isn’t necessarily true, but I believed it at that time. After graduating, I became a Montessori teacher.”

Her classroom became her creative outlet. She designed it in a way that motivated her students—ages three to six years old—to come to school every day.

“The kids would come into the classroom running and smiling,” she said. “And they didn’t want to go home at the end of the day. I taught them music, art, practical skills and, above all, how to enjoy the learning process.”

After ten years of teaching Kennedy felt inspired to create her own pieces again.

“My art started coming through,” she said. “I did a show and people asked me if I was from Taos because they ‘saw Taos’ in my work. I had been here only twice to visit, but didn’t know much about it yet.”

The first kachina

The first time Kennedy saw a kachina was in Santa Fe, in 1993, during what she describes as “an inspiring trip.”

“That piece spoke to me,” she said. “I felt I could create one, not just like it, but my very own. It was an instinctual reaction and I paid attention to it. Afterwards, I went home and made a kachina. When my friends saw my personal piece, they wanted one!”

Kennedy did her first kachina show in 1994 and the enthusiasm from the public was so encouraging that she began to create more.

“I blend the simple and the profound; the commonplace and the sacred,” she said. “My intention is to make them both real and magical at once.”

Kennedy has complete over one thousand kachinas to date.

“I am happy to say that I am an ‘eating artist’!” she said. “Over the years I have also supplemented my income with other small jobs to keep the financial pressure to a minimum. But I do live off my work and this is very satisfying.”
The process
It takes from three weeks to three months for Kennedy to complete a kachina—sometimes longer, if they are big pieces.

“The secret is not to rush,” she said. “You need to allow the piece time to create itself and reveal its own voice, its authenticity. I never try to imitate anybody, just let the feelings come through me. Quieting the mind is fundamental so the intuition can be heard.”

One of the most important parts of her creative process is collecting the materials. Kennedy uses antique tapestries, silk, bones, gems, and turtle shells, among other objects.

She finds her inspiration in nature, color, form, texture, and solitude.

“My little Papillon mix, Gracie, is always around me, but she doesn’t interfere with my work,” she said. “Gracie is the perfect companion for an artist!”

Create your own piece

Kachinas can be custom-made to reflect a particular life event.

“They are used to honor major life transitions, from birth to marriage to graduating on any level,” Kennedy said. “My custom pieces range from sixteen inches to four feet tall.”

Wearable art: responding to a need

She is also inspired by the response she gets from the public, which often fires up her creative juices.

“My wearable collection began with my personal wardrobe,” she said. “I had designed a simple poncho from a beautiful batik fabric and I wore it to my art openings and book signings. When women started asking me where they could get them, I began making them for the public.”

Today she sells her wearable art at the Fechin House gift shop and at her studio. They are “one size fits most.”

The author

Kennedy has authored Wisdom Warriors, a book about her life and work that was published in 2007.

“It is about my journey in search of wisdom and inner peace,” she said. “The book includes thirty-eight color photos of my kachinas accompanied by simple words of wisdom…My goal when I wrote it was to inspire others and motivate their creativity.”

Danielle’s advice to young artists:

Do what you love—and keep doing it.

If other people don’t get what you are doing… ignore them!

Feel free to change, try new techniques, and explore.

To find out more about Kennedy and her work visit her website: www.espiritartgallery.com or call 575-751-0164.

Studio visits welcome by appointment.
Danielle Slide Show

 

 

 

Posted in Business story, Taos News | Tagged , ,

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY US LATIN@PLAYS WRITTEN IN SPANISH

Image result for latino plays theater images

We are inviting previously unpublished contributions for an anthology of Contemporary US Latin@ Plays written in Spanish. This volume seeks to fill the gaps in published resources about US Latin@ plays written and performed in Spanish. US Latin@ theatre in English has received considerable publications in the past decades and is now part of the academic and performance archive. Yet, US theatre written in Spanish remains undervalued despite the fact that there is a large and vibrant corpus of work being produced across the country. Given the lack of published dramatic works in Spanish, the scope of investigations thus far has been limited, as well.

 

This volume intends to continue the dialogue about these writers and launch US Latin@ dramatic literature written in Spanish into the larger conversation of Latin American and US Latin@ literature and cultural studies. We invite plays that have been written in Spanish by Latin@ authors who are writing/working in the U.S.

 

Please send plays, a 1 page synopsis of your play including production history, as well as a brief biographical note and contact information (cell/phone, email, and mailing address), by December 1, 2016 to the editors. Final acceptance is pending approval based on manuscript submission.

 

  • Trevor Boffone, Adjunct Professor of Spanish and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Founding Editor, 50 Playwrights Project; University of Houston, Trevor.Boffone@gmail.com
  • Amrita Das, Associate Professor of Spanish, University of North Carolina   Wilmington, dasa@uncw.edu
  • Kathryn Quinn-Sánchez, Professor of Spanish; Co-editor, Label Me Latina/o; Georgian Court University, ksanchez@georgian.edu
  • Michele Shaul, Professor of Spanish; Co-editor, Label Me Latina/o; Director for Latino Studies; Queens University of Charlotte, shaulm@queens.edu

Please be sure to send contact information, as well as any queries, to all editors.

 

Projected Time Line:

Announcement: August 31, 2016

Play Proposal Submissions due: December 1, 2016

Decision on Proposals: April 1, 2017

Final Play Submissions due: June 1, 2017

Publishing Proposal to Press: June 2017

Trevor Boffone, Ph.D.

Department of Hispanic Studies

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

University of Houston

www.trevor.boffone.com

Founding Editor: 50 Playwrights Project 

Editorial Board Champion: Café Onda

Find out more about  50 Playwrights Project here 

 

Posted in arts and entertainment | Tagged , ,

The gift of beauty

Nabis Naturals

“If you want to make your family and friends happy this holiday, give them the gift of beauty,” says Montserrat Oyanedel.

Originally published in Taos News

Oyanedel is the creator, with Kristel McKanna, of the first Taos hemp-based skincare company, Nabis Naturals. The two Chilean natives first developed a moisturizing serum and have just added a day cream and a night cream to their line. All the products use hemp seed oil as the main ingredient.

“We chose it because of the many beneficial effects that it has on the skin,” said Oyanedel. “Hemp seed oil reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and fights dryness as well.”

Other active ingredients are hyaluronic acid, Argan oil, vitamins E and B3, and rose hydrosol. The creams and the serum are absorbed fast and can be used under make-up. They are good for all skin types.

Nabis Naturals products are available at Ennui Gallery, Taos Market, KTAOS, Bumps (at Taos Ski Valley) and through the company’s website http://www.nabisnaturals.com.

The Lisset line

Dr. Marshall Reich and his wife Debra Reich are the creators of the Lisset serum and the Lisset moisturizer—both of them are trademarked.

The serum started as a product intended to reduce scarring in wound healing, but later became a powerful moisturizer with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties that only needs to be applied for ten days every month.

The couple operates A Better You, a skin care clinic that offers cosmoceutical procedures like chemical peelings and dermal fillers under Dr. Reich’s direct supervision.

“A good diet, proper hydration and exercise are all very important,” said Debra Reich, “but sometimes you need extra help, particularly in our dry climate.”

Chemical peelings promote cellular renewal and improve the tone and texture of the skin, while also reactivating the production of collagen. They are effective to treat facial blemishes, wrinkles, and uneven skin pigmentation. During a glycolic peeling, a very small scalpel is used to remove dead cells from the face, just before the acid is applied. Facials, on the other hand, are gentler, but equally effective.

“Our moisturizing facials can bring dry skin to life and leave it fresh and glowing,” Reich said. “The best thing about them is that you can see results immediately afterwards. Perfect procedures when you want to look your best for an upcoming holiday party!”

A Better You is located at Suite 67 B Northstar Plaza, Highway 522

http://abetteryounm.com/

Missy’s Organic Skincare and Spa

Missy Jennings, owner of Missy’s Organic Skincare and Spa, has created a cleanser and a moisturizer, both made by a local certified organic lab.

“The cleanser is unique,” she said. “It cleanses, tones, hydrates, exfoliates and acts as an anti aging product, all in one. Even men like to use it because it softens the skin and hair so much that it makes for a smoother shave. The moisturizer reduces the look of lines, wrinkles, dullness, and dehydration. It also offers UV protection.”

She is also developing other products that will be sold early in 2015, like a lip balm and a hydrating body spray.

Jennings specializes in eyebrow design and shapes them according to people’s facial features. She spends at least a half hour on this service and has developed a method to help re-grow brows.

She offers customized facials as well as massages. Two massage therapists just started working with her.

“We also have clothes and jewelry, and a make-up artist available,” Jennings said. “Missy’s is your one-stop beauty and body shop for the holidays.”

For products and services, contact Jennings at the store, Missy’s Organic Skincare and Spa, located at 121 Camino de la Placita.

 

 

 

Posted in Taos News | Tagged , ,

Quality pet food at an affordable price

Nature's Select of New Mexico

When Diane Dau moved from Minneapolis to Taos 9 years ago she immediately thought about starting her own business.

Originally published in Taos News

“But I waited several years because I needed to know the area first,” she said. “The first rule in business is identifying a need so you can fill it.”

She noticed that something was missing in Taos.

“I felt there was a market for natural, quality pet products delivered to people’s home or business,” she said.

Having used that service before, Dau researched different companies for about 6 months until she found Nature’s Select, a California-based company that sells all-natural, holistic food for pets.

She decided to become a distributor and started the business in September 2008.

“I like Nature’s Select because they only use domestic raised and produced whole meats, whole ground brown rice, and natural preservatives,” said Dau. “No corn, wheat, soy, chemical preservatives, dyes or fillers. They also offered the best product at the best price and good support for their distributors.”

Dau’s company delivers twice a week, free of charge, throughout the enchanted circle, as far south as Dixon and as far north as El Rito.

The driver is Ray Romero, who travels with Cinnamon, his small recue dog.

“My customers already know Cinnamon and most dogs love her,” he said.

Romero takes the food inside and places it where his customers want.

“It’s a great help if you can’t lift a thirty-pound bag,” Dau said.

Food and treats

Dau currently sells dry and canned food for cats and dogs, which constitutes the bulk of her business.

“I also have treats, probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, wild salmon oil, beef gravy for arthritis and a natural product for tooth tartar and bad breath,” she said.
Her most popular product is Nature’s Select chicken and rice with glucosamine dry dog food.

“So many dogs are older and there are large breed dogs that have a propensity to get arthritis,” she said. “The glucosamine helps them regain flexibility.”

She also sells Premium Extruded Horse Feed that can also be used for goats.

The business

There are three things that make her business unique, Dau said.

“First, we are the only business in this area that delivers pet products at no charge —we do not have a retail location. Second, we carry nothing that contains corn, wheat or soy, which are common fillers and allergens. And third, we do not sell any products from China or with made-in-China ingredients that are the cause of many of the recalls in pet products.”

Nature’s Selects receives the FDA recall list.

“That means that we can e-mail that information to our customers when we are advised of something of importance,” she said. “When the FDA sent out a warning several years ago concerning the chicken jerky treats made in China, our customers were aware immediately. Other stores in town continued to sell them until they were finally put on the recall list, since the FDA is slow to move.”

The most challenging part of owning a business like this one is projecting what sales will be.

“I order the food every two months to keep the shipping costs as low as possible,” Dau said. “I have to pay for all products before I receive them, so don’t want to order too much, but I want to have enough inventory so I don’t run out. It’s a difficult balance.”

However, she has already built a loyal client base of around 200 customers.

The most rewarding part of her business is dealing with her clients and their pets.

“People who take care of and love their pets tend to be pretty cool people,” she said. “I’m an animal lover and my pets are my family, so I enjoy meeting the animals that benefit from the healthy products we provide.”

Dau feeds feral dogs and gives free and discounted food to rescue groups in the area.

“I also keep my prices low for natural products, so more people can afford to give their pets a healthy diet,” she said.

Educating the customer

Dau started her business in order to make it convenient for people to buy quality pet food at an affordable price.

“I didn’t expect to get rich, just make a decent living, which is what has happened,” she said. “A lot of what I do is educating people on the current state of available pet food. Most people don’t realize that many of the major brands of pet food have been bought up by huge corporations and they care only about their bottom line. The food is full of harmful additives, sugar, chemicals and by-products, as well as ingredients from China that they purchase in bulk. They spend a lot of money on advertisements telling you how great the food is and the average person believes it.”

Purchasing a quality food will cost you the same, or even less, in the long run, she said.

“Since there are no fillers, you feed your pets less, your vet bills are lower and your pet’s quality of life increases,” Dau said. “Isn’t that what we all want?”

To order Nature’s Select pet food from Dau or to find out more about the business, call her at 575-751-7374 or e-mail naturesselectofnm@yahoo.com.

Nature's Select of New Mexico

 

 

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