brunch), and whichever of the three to four specials he runs every day. menu at Old Martina’s. He puts himself in the customers’ shoes all the time and expects his cooks to do the same. “Having been [in Taos] for 25 years, I had a good name in the community who expected a certain style of cooking,” he said. The lunch menu will be changed for the summer season, with lighter fare such as fish and salads, stir-fry, softer pastas and fewer red meats. The dinner menu will also be revamped. Lamendola is no stranger to Taos or Taoseños. After graduating from chef school in New York City he moved to Santa Fe where he spent seven years. Later, he was the chef at Thunderbird Lodge in Taos Ski Valley for 11 years. Lamendola then opened The Bread House in Taos.after being at the helm in a couple other restaurants in Taos, he moved to St. Augustine and Marco Island, Florida. He started thinking about all of his family members back in Taos, including his children and grandchildren. Northern New Mexico called him back. Neither the history of the place nor the task of resuscitating the restaurant gave him the jitters. Nerves? What are nerves? With spring and summer approaching there will be a lot of fresh produce in the area, which he’s looking forward to using in his dishes. “I don’t ever get nervous. Life is too short,” he shared. “We’re just cooks. We’re not splitting atoms or performing brain surgery. That’s being nervous. There’s no ‘oops’ doing that.” “I like the farm-to-table concept,” he explained. “That keeps me on my toes — what’s new and exciting? I get bored real easy with a standard menu.” What does give him reason to pause is foundering. The Detroit-native’s approach as a chef is if he were a customer; What would he want to eat and how does he want it to taste and be presented? “I have to be part of the future here and make it successful. If his place fails then I fail, and I can’t have that.” The seasoned chef admits he faced some challenges with changing the OLD MARTINA’S HALL 4140 State Road 68, Ranchos de Taos Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Happy Hour Tuesday through Saturday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays. (575) 758-3003 oldmartinashall.com 45 TA O S M E N U S . C O M
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