Chaco Blog


Chaco Breakfast Buffet

For several years I enjoyed being the Executive Chef at Lajitas Resort, a 50k acre ranch on the most south-western border of Texas and Mexico, nestled between the Big Bend National and Big Bend State parks. Some of our most favorite events were large barbeques and open fire-pit cooking under the big Texas sky up at site we called Stargazer Mesa. I was also allowed to book several mock cattle drives and some amazing mule deer and mountain lion hunts on the famous O2 Ranch South of Alpine, Texas.

My mentor for these events was a big fellow named Mack. He taught me all kinds of tricks. How to maintain and gage the heat from wood fired coals, what wood to use, how to build a key-hole fire pit. We cooked everything in large iron Dutch ovens. From basic biscuits, Migas and venison stews, to “tin can” chocolate soufflés. There is just something about cooking out in the large open spaces where very few have traveled, creating and sharing a meal around a campfire and listening to the adventures of cowboys and hunters.

In 2015 I asked a welder friend of mine out in Dove Springs, CO to weld together an old tractor wheel and attach expanded metal for a top to make a grill and a stand that we could move into place and take away as to not leave a trail. We have used this old tractor wheel grill for several events out in the most beautiful places in the SW area and continue to look for more opportunities to prepare and share a wonderful meal and stories under the stars.

This past May we hosted an event at Chaco Canyon National Park for the NMMF-Circles Explorers with Eric Blinman the Director of the Office of Archeological Studies (OAS) for the state of New Mexico. Eric gave the most informative tours of Pueblo Bonito, Casa Rinconada, Chetro Keti, Kin Klets, New Alto, Pueblo Alto and Pueblo del Arroyo. In the evenings while preparing dinner and enjoying cocktails, Eric told the exploreres stories and gave demonstrations on clothing of that period. Mocsins and turkey feather blankets. On basket weaving, clay pottery used by the Pueblos during 850 and 1250.

When we arrived we had to overcome a few speed bumps off the bat. The tent crew was about 2 hours late and we had two 20’x20’ tents to rig. One for the kitchen and the other for dining. We also had the 12 calvary tents to rig and furnish with lighting, cots, tables and chairs. We were just completing camp when the first guest arrived. Luckily I was able to unpack the kitchen and bar first.

Dinner was served at sunset under a deep rich blue sky with several pink and peach colored clouds floating by and lighting up the tent camp with purple and violet. We prepared Manchego cheese stuffed summer squash and corn Arepes with cilantro-pecan pesto for cocktail hour. The favorite cocktail concotions was called the high dessert spritzer. Dinner began at dusk starting with a huge salad with leafy greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, sheeps milk cheese and Mexican Marrigold splash. Then we grilled Bison tenderloins and baked chili rellenos over hot coals on the old tractor wheel grill. Cara made lemon curds with merengue for desset.

The night got bitterly cold in the desert but we all warmed up at breakfast with Dutch oven biscuits drowned in Red Eye gravy, scrambled egss and bacon, pastires, fresh fruit and Mimosa’s.