Chef couple shares a passion for food

Chef couple at Medley share a passion for food

Story and picture originally published in Taos News

Photo: Katharine Egli

There is a new restaurant in town—Medley, that opened on May 28th. It is located where the Old Blinking Light used to be, but the owners, Chefs Wilks and Colleen Medley, want people to know one thing:

“This isn’t the renovated Old Blinking Light,” Wilks Medley said. “While we are happy and honored to own a place that so many people have great memories of, we are also a totally different restaurant.”

So, what’ new now?

The answer is simple: everything.

The couple spent several months designing the floor plan and doing massive renovations.

“Before, the venue was focused on entertainment,” he said, “but we are both chefs and we are focused on food, which required a total change. We invite everyone to come and see what we are offering now—a casual fine-dining experience.”

The Chef couple

Wilks and Colleen Medley didn’t set out to become chefs or restaurateurs. He went to engineering school at Boston University and she graduated from business school at Fredonia.

After discovering their vocation for food, they changed paths and attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

“But we didn’t meet there,” she said. “We actually met at a restaurant in Washington DC, after we had graduated, and worked together for a while.”

From Washington DC they moved to Los Angeles and spent three years there.

She worked for Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air as a pastry chef.

He ran Vibrato Grill & Jazz and resurrected a French restaurant in downtown LA, among other jobs.

“These were three exciting years,” he said. “We learned a lot, but there came a moment when we got tired of seeing concrete and cars all the time. We needed to be closer to the earth, to see dirt…”

A Christmas in Taos

As luck had it, when they were considering where to go next, Wilks Medley happened to have one day off in Christmas and came to Taos to ski. That was in 2013.

“Actually, I had been coming here since I was a kid,” Wilks said. “My family now lives right around the corner and I’ve always loved the town, but never thought we would move here until I found out that the Old Blinking Light was for sale. I came back to LA so excited…At first we just joked about it, but then Colleen came and saw it, and we realized we wanted to buy it.”

The couple placed a bid on the business and got it on September 15th, 2014.

“That was just the beginning,” he said. “We have been working really hard and bringing everything up to code. And here we are.”

“We both love to cook, eat, and dine,” she said. “Food is our passion and we like to share it.”

Sweet and savory

Her specialty is pastry. His is “everything else.”

“I don’t have the patience you need for pastry,” he admits.

“I bake whatever I like to eat,” she said. “I love French pastry; custards, cream caramel, pudding, and cakes.”

As for him, he just “likes to have fun while cooking.”

“I don’t follow these preconceived notions of what you can or can’t cook,” he said. “I take it to a level where it is really good and then I make it a little crazy and a little better than usual. I can cook anything but I prefer seafood. We have as much as we can reliably source in New Mexico.”

Her favorite dish is a Mexican chocolate pudding cake made with cinnamon Anglaise and spiced pepita brittle chocolate.

“It’s our biggest seller,” she said. “It has a bit of spice and it’s delicious.”

For him, it is steamed PEI mussels, made with tomatoes, chili flake, garlic, lemon, and parsley, and served with a baguette.

“This is my own spin on a dish that we both know quite well,” he said.

Embraced by the community

Medley has been opened for just a couple of months, but both chefs feel they have been “totally embraced by Taos.”

“We are so thankful for their warm welcoming,” she said. “We have heard so many stories about people getting married and celebrating their anniversaries here, year after year. It really gets us into the fabric of the community. The restaurant has a lot of history and goodwill, and we are happy to be part of it.”

Medley is located at 100 NM-150, El Prado

Phone: (575) 776-8787

http://www.medleyinelprado.com/

Recipes

Crab Cakes

Yield: about 14 cakes

Ingredients:

3# cleaned crab meat

1 ea onion, 1/4” Diced

5 ea celery stalks, 1/4” diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 pint Panko bread crumbs

4 fl oz egg yolks, mixed

3 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp celery salt

2 tbsp kosher salt

2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Sweat the onion, celery, and garlic in a pan with canola oil over medium heat, until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, with the cooked vegetables, and mix thoroughly. Mix using a stirring motion, not a smashing motion as this will preserve the larger chunks of crab.
  3. Portion into 4 oz portions.
  4. Heat a large pan with canola oil and sear both sides of the crab cake until nicely brown.
  5. Place the crab cakes in the oven for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees to heat through.
  6. Serve with sauce of your choice.

Pepita Brittle

Ingredients:

8 oz butter, unsalted

1 cup sugar

1/8 cup corn syrup

1/8 cup water

1 ¼ cup pepitas

Pinch ancho chili powder

Pinch salt

Method:

  1. Toast pepitas in a 325⁰F oven for 15 minutes or until light brown.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, corn syrup, and water in saucepot.
  3. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches hard crack stage, or 300⁰
  4. Mix in salt, chili powder, and pepitas – it is okay if mixture separates a little.
  5. Pour out onto parchment paper.
  6. Working quickly, roll out brittle with a rolling pin until thin.

* Caution, mixture is very hot *

  1. Store in airtight container.
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