Chefs from Mexico, the East Coast and Patagonia make Taos their home

Chef couple at Medley share a passion for food

Photo: Katharine Egli

Chefs Wilks and Colleen Medley

Originally published in Taos news

Jaime Nieves-Flores: El Chef at The Gorge

Jaime Nieves-Flores grew up surrounded by the aromas and flavors of his mother’s fonda, a small restaurant in Mexico City. His father owned a deli store nearby.

“There was food all around me and I learned a lot about cooking, but I never thought I would become a chef,” he said.

He came to the United States in 1981and it was then that the food business called him. Nieves-Flores was a corporate chef and culinary specialist at Sysco Foods for nine years. He also worked at several Albuquerque restaurants, among them Seasons, The Artichoke Café, Scalo, and The Cooperage.

In November 2014, Kevin and Keith Roessler renovated the former Ogelvies Taos Grill and Bar and turned it into The Gorge. They knew Nieves-Flores, who had worked for them before, and invited him to be the restaurant’s executive chef and consultant.

“This gave me an opportunity to create a unique and interesting menu,” he said. “Our concept is casual, yet high-quality food, so I make sure that our patrons have a variety of options, from tequila-lime chicken tacos to grilled Atlantic salmon to our famous bison sliders. Come by and try them!”

Chefs Wilks and Colleen Medley: sweet and savory

When chefs Wilks and Colleen Medley heard that the Old Blinking Light was for sale, back in 2013, they started joking about buying the space. But it soon became serious business and they got it. After doing massive renovations they opened their restaurant, Medley, on May 28th.

The young and energetic couple brings to Taos a wealth of experience, a passion for casual fine dining, and a very eclectic background. He went to engineering school at Boston University and she graduated from business school at Fredonia.

After discovering their interest in cooking, they both attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Yet they didn’t meet there—their paths crossed at a restaurant in Washington DC. Afterwards, their culinary journey took them to Los Angeles, where she worked for Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air as a pastry chef and he ran Vibrato Grill & Jazz and a French restaurant in downtown LA.

Now, at Medley, her specialty is pastry and his is “everything else.”

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

As for him, he doesn’t like to follow preconceived notions of what you can or can’t cook, but likes to put his own spin on every dish he makes.

Their grilled vegetable plate is a great example of a healthy and tasty entrée, artfully presented.

Betty Artes: nourishing body and soul

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Betty Artes learned to cook from her Italian grandmother.

“Food was at the center of all our family and social activities,” she said. “We would have big parrilladas, Argentinean-style grills, with traditional side dishes like empanadas, and Italian pasta such as gnochis and polenta.”

Artes came to the United States in 1962. She first lived in New York and later moved to Colorado, where she opened a restaurant, Casa Alvarez, in 1994.

“It was the fulfillment of a dream I always had—making people happy with food,” she said.  “We served traditional Mexican cuisine, but later expanded the menu and incorporated some Argentinean items like the Gaucho burrito (steak with chimichurri). Our line of chile sauces won the Chile Challenge year after year.”

Artes and her partner Daniel Escalante moved to Taos in May 2015. Here, they founded Casa Taos, a retreat and training center located just ten minutes from the Plaza.

“At Casa Taos we offer a healthy menu specifically designed for our guests and their dietary requests,” Artes said. “We always have pork green chile, which is gluten free and made with antibiotic-free pork, vegetarian and vegan chile verde, and New Mexican red chile. We also use seasonal ingredients, most of which come from our organic garden. Our goal is to maintain an art and activism center where we nourish both body and soul.”

Enjoying Betty Artes’s food