The award is given annually to a New Mexico chef who demonstrates leadership, creativity, and culinary excellence; contributes to the advancement and prestige of the foodservice industry; and exemplifies remarkable guest service, mentorship, and quality inside and outside the kitchen. Chef of the Year is among the highest honors a chef can receive in New Mexico.
Chef Michael Giese is known for his work elevating Native American cuisine and developing a Native fusion menu at Pueblo Harvest Café that bridges cultures by pairing traditional indigenous foods with culinary influences from around the world. With dishes like Chackewe con Huevos, the Rez Dog and Blueberry Juniper Elk, Giese has created a cross-cultural culinary experience that makes Native cuisine accessible to all.
One of Giese's greatest achievements as Pueblo Harvest Cafe's Executive Chef is cultivating and mentoring a team of Pueblo and Native American chefs.
"There need to be more Native American chefs in the industry," said Boris Revilla, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center's Food & Beverage Director. "Chef Michael is working towards training and mentoring more Native chefs in our own kitchen."
Giese is also known for his work establishing a Community Teaching Garden at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The Community Teaching Garden preserves traditional Pueblo crops and farming techniques, while teaching visitors about Pueblo core values of sustainability and stewardship.
With the support of his Sous Chef Burt Wilson (Zuni/Navajo), Giese grows traditional Pueblo and heirloom crops that he incorporates into weekly specials at Pueblo Harvest Café. Giese has also volunteered in dozens of culinary events to benefit local charities such as El Ranchito de Los Niños and Meals on Wheels.
"I'm honored and thrilled about the opportunity to represent Pueblo Harvest Café, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and New Mexico's restaurant industry as Chef of the Year," said Giese. "Giving back is at the heart of what I do as a chef and I see this opportunity as an opportunity to promote New Mexico's restaurants and bring more attention to Native American cuisine."
In addition to Chef of the Year, Giese has been honored in FSR Magazine's Top 40 Under Forty Chefs. He has won a Hot Plate Award from Albuquerque the Magazine as well as Albuquerque's first ever Chef Knockout competition, which was a fundraiser for The Storehouse, New Mexico's largest food pantry.
In 2014 Giese launched a new series of monthly pairing dinners at Pueblo Harvest Café to showcase culinary trends and seasonal ingredients. Recent dinners have highlighted molecular gastronomy; grains and produce from local farms; and partnerships with award-winning microbreweries like Albuquerque's Bosque Brewing Company. Giese also creates a weekly rotating menu of tapas featured at Pueblo Harvest Cafe's Party on the Patio, including Braised Bison Gorditas, Pueblo Sushi and House-made Green Chile Pork Rinds
About Pueblo Harvest Café
Located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center near historic Old Town Albuquerque, Pueblo Harvest Café is a full-service restaurant and bakery from Chef Michael Giese and his acclaimed culinary team. Incorporating traditional flavors into contemporary cooking, Pueblo Harvest Café reinvents and challenges ideas of what Native American cuisine is.