Mrs. J receiving the Santa Fe Living Treasure for 2019 - May 5, 2019.

Mrs. J receiving the Santa Fe Living Treasure for 2019 - May 5, 2019.


‘As long as you can do it — do it’

Florence Jaramillo

Wearing a purple checked-print dress and a strand of pearls, Florence Jaramillo shuffled with the aid of a walker from one dining room to the next at Rancho de Chimayó.

She stopped at tables to pick up empty coffee cups and plates.

“I used to be able to do 10 things at once,” she said. “I can’t do as much as I used to. … But the passion is still there.”

At 88, “Mrs. J,” as she is known at her popular Northern New Mexico restaurant, said she still shows up nearly every day, checking on employees and tidying up.

“It’s like my home,” Jaramillo said. “I’m here most of the time.”

On May 5, Jaramillo and three other local residents will be honored as the newest Santa Fe Living Treasures — elders in the community who are recognized for making an impact through their careers and volunteer work.

Jaramillo said she was “real shocked” to have been chosen for the honor.

In 1963, she moved to Chimayó from the East Coast with her then-husband, Arturo Jaramillo, a Chimayó native who shared her dream of opening a restaurant in his hometown.

After two years of preparations, the couple opened the restaurant in 1965 in the Jaramillo family hacienda, which had been passed down to them after the death of Arturo Jaramillo’s grandfather.

For a while, Florence Jaramillo said, she and Arturo — who divorced more than 30 years ago — “questioned ourselves a lot.”

Eventually, however, the restaurant gained traction, with locals and tourists alike seeking it out to sample cuisine such as flavorful carne adovada and red chile enchiladas.

“We just kept sticking it out,” Florence Jaramillo said. “If you really believe in something so hard, you keep fighting for it.”

In 2008, the fight became harder. A fire forced the business to shut down for a time.

In recent years, Rancho de Chimayó has made a comeback, gaining national recognition, including awards from the National Restaurant Association and the James Beard Foundation. Jaramillo also has been recognized by the New Mexico Restaurant Association.

Throughout the history of the restaurant, Jaramillo said, she’s employed thousands of people from Chimayó.

She also spent decades volunteering with community organizations and awarding scholarships to local students.

Her involvement and “go-go-go” mentality, Jaramillo said, is what keeps her healthy and happy.

“You need to stay busy. You need to keep moving,” she said. “As long as you can do it — do it.”

Steve Northup

He’s had a wide-ranging career as a photojournalist, but Santa Fe Living Treasure Steve Northup said his most rewarding work has been teaching photography to youth. Courtesy photo by Genevieve Russell

He documented the tragedies of the Vietnam War and the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

And he captured the beauty of the Mayan Holy Week.

He’s had a wide-ranging career as a photojournalist, Steve Northup said, but his most rewarding work was teaching the art of photography to youth and helping them understand the power of a camera to raise awareness and inspire change.

After years of working for news organizations such as United Press International, Time magazine and the Washington Post, Northup returned to his native Santa Fe, where he spent 12 years leading Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and a handful of years hosting clinics for beginner photographers in Truth or Consequences.

“It’s a joy to work with people and see them get better,” he said. “If you’ve got the passion, the eye, you’re there.”

Northup, 77, is one of the newest Santa Fe Living Treasures. He felt “blessed” by the honor, he said.

His photographic career began while he was a student at Santa Fe High School — he served as a summer intern at The New Mexican, shooting high school sports.

He worked at the Santa Fe Reporter for about three years before joining UPI, which assigned him to photograph everyday life amid the Vietnam War. During the Watergate era, Northup worked for the Washington Post.

He was granted the Nieman Fellowship award from Harvard University in 1974. He also won the White House New Photographer contest in 1969 and 1972.

In the 1990s, he returned to The New Mexican where, he said, he experienced some of his “fondest memories.”

“I’ve had a really joyous career,” Northup said.

Bob and Marge McCarthy

Santa Fe Living Treasures Bob and Marge McCarthy have served Santa Fe in countless ways, from helping preserve Native American cultural sites to creating labyrinths for use in mental health. Courtesy photo by Genevieve Russell

Retirement was not so much an end to Bob and Marge McCarthy’s careers as it was an opportunity to explore their other interests and get involved in their new community.

Since moving to Santa Fe from New Jersey in 1994, the duo — Bob, 90, and Marge, 89 — have served Santa Fe in countless ways, from helping preserve Native American cultural sites to creating labyrinths for use in mental health.

The McCarthys were surprised to learn they had been selected as Santa Fe Living Treasures; they weren’t trying to making a difference in the city, the pair joked — they were just doing what they loved.

“I was just doing what was fun for me,” Bob McCarthy said. “I was learning and teaching and exploring.”

After moving here, he said, he was struck by the area’s Native American heritage and began volunteering at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, where he served as a docent for 18 years.

He also participated in a stewardship program through the U.S. Forest Service, surveying ancient sites across Northern New Mexico, and the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project — an all-volunteer program to preserve and document rock art along a 12-mile stretch of mesa near Velarde.

For about 15 years, Bob McCarthy said, he meandered the mesa, reporting Native artworks he stumbled upon.

“They’ve counted about 6,000 figures on the rocks there,” he said. “There’s a kind of excitement that comes with walking — never on trails, just on a slideslope of the mesa — trying to look at every stone. … The feeling that perhaps nobody else has walked there since the Native people were there making their figures and forms. It feels like putting yourself a little closer to Native culture than you get in a museum.”

Marge McCarthy’s focus, meanwhile, was founding the Labyrinth Resource Group in 1998 and sustaining its mission for the last 20 years.

A former school psychologist, she began volunteering as a tutor in Santa Fe Public Schools. Having a Buddhist background, she also helped out at the Upaya Zen Center.

But then labyrinths entered her life, and her priorities shifted.

“It was a sad way that I actually got started,” she said.

Her niece had died, she explained, and she came across a labyrinth at the young woman’s memorial. At the time, she said, she knew nothing about labyrinths. She decided to attend a retreat in Sedona, Ariz., focused on the art form.

“I was blown away by the power of the labyrinth,” Marge McCarthy said.

The Labyrinth Resource Group — dedicated to designing public labyrinths and hosting meditative walks — has developed about 40 labyrinths at local schools, in public spaces and at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

The response has been humbling, Marge said: “One little girl said, ‘When I got to the center, I talked to God.’ Another little boy said his dog had died three weeks before, and he was really, really miserable. But when he got to the center, he said he realized his dog would live in his heart forever.”

CLICK for the article from the Santa Fe New Mexican -


Watch the NEW MEXICO TRUE segment on Rancho de Chimayo!



Room at the Table – Diverse New Mexico Cookbooks - LOCAL FLAVOR November 15, 2016


But of course, if we’re going to include everyone, we can’t forget to make space in honor of Northern New Mexico’s Spanish heritage—and we didn’t forget, for, “Nobody forgets Rancho de Chimayo.” So begins The Rancho de Chimayo Cookbook, an homage to one of Northern New Mexico’s iconic restaurants, which lives, breathes and honors Spanish American tradition, “full of authentic New Mexico flavor—never bland, never dainty, never nouvelle.” And that flavor is precisely what’s stirred into the pages of Chimayo, written and compiled by authors Cheryl Alters Jamison and the late Bill Jamison.

The book tells the stories of Rancho founders Arturo and Florence Jaramillo and their landmark creation, as well as the history of Spanish heritage in New Mexico, the town of Chimáyo itself, and the cooking that sprung from such rich tradition and culture planted in high-desert earth. The book contains beautiful photography, and though it’s been dubbed a cookbook, it could easily mingle with the books on your coffee table. Recipes span traditional Chimayo chile sauces to main courses like chicken enchiladas to breakfast dishes to drinks and desserts. In this book, the famed restaurant, Rancho de Chimayo, shares its secrets so home cooks can bring local delicacies like sopapillas — or sopapilla cream puffs or even little “sopa pillows”— to their own tables.

The Rancho de Chimayo Cookbook: The Traditional Cooking of New Mexico 50th Anniversary Edition
by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

WINNER! 2016 James Beard Foundation America's Classics Awa

Each year since 1998 the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee has recognized our nation’s beloved regional restaurants. Distinguished by their timeless appeal, they serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities. The James Beard Foundation anointed this locally owned restaurant with a James Beard Foundation Award and designate them as America’s Classics.









Meanwhile, Back at the Rancho

Get out of the city for classic culinary rewards in Chimayó

April 13, 2016, 12:00 am

By Ben Kendall

There’s more than one pilgrimage destination in Chimayó. Just down the road from El Santuario de Chimayó, where people come from hundreds of miles on foot to sample the miraculous healing soil, another rehabilitative substance can be found that is perhaps just as divine: burritos. The restaurant, Rancho de Chimayó (300 Juan Medina Road, Chimayó, 984-2100), is a historic hacienda dating back to the 19th century. The rural Rancho has been open for just about 50 years, founded in 1965 by Florence Jaramillo and her husband—and Florence still owns and operates it. Even after a short closing due to a fire allegedly set by a disgruntled ex-employee back in 2008, it continues to be a regional favorite. In fact, the restaurant was recently a nominee for the 2016 America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation, and for good reason. There isn’t anything that isn’t a gastronomic delight within these walls.

The décor is less traditional hacienda and more “whatever I like.” Two dour and mustachioed gentleman stare blankly from a sketch inside the vestibule to the left of the door, burning the back of your head with their gazes. On an inside hallway is an artistic recreation of what looks like somebody’s “glamour shot” photograph. Conversely, all of the waitresses are dressed in brightly colored skirts and billowing white blouses—creating an old Mexico feel in a New Mexican restaurant. The wait staff, the prospect and the food are familiar and yet anything but typical.

I’m led out to a large covered dining area drenched in the remains of the late afternoon sunlight. Small pots of fresh honey (covered with protective cling wrap) sit upon the table beside slightly worn, but still colorful, silk flowers.

It was before the dinner rush, but still busy, with pockets of vacationers and a few older locals huddled over their meals, languid after one or more of the house margaritas ($7.50). I ordered one, too. The Sauza brand tequila was in perfect proportion to the mix and not too sweet. Even one, was sufficiently potent, providing just the right amount of before-repast squiffiness.

Chips and salsa arrived at the table before long, accompanied by some of the finest guacamole ($6.75) that I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant (without having to make it myself). It was simple and rich, without any strange tastes that you might experience from a canned variety found in a restaurant pressed for time or expertise. I was assured that it was handmade every day from only ripe avocados, some salt, pepper and, apparently, love.

The main course was a carne adovada burrito ($13.50)— pork marinated in a spicy red chile caribe sauce and wrapped in a flour tortilla and topped with more adovada sauce and cheese, flanked by what appeared to be housemade refried beans and that Spanish rice. The meat was moist and drenched in sauce. With every bite, the savory/sweet tastes of the pork and chile combined to make a seraphic sensation that lingered in my mouth long after the meal was over. One huge, puffy sopaipilla accompanied the dinner plate; when combined with the burrito, some guac and a blob of honey, they provided a flavor that goes beyond merely satisfying.

For dessert, I ordered piñón mocha mousse ($5.10). I couldn’t finish it, but it was out of this world. The texture was thick and had the requisite amount of bitter chocolate flavor on the back end that balances out the sweet, plus tiny chunks of soft piñón that almost snuck past my tongue.

The service deserves mention. Going against the rule, at least in comparison to Santa Fe, Rancho de Chimayó’s wait staff are prompt, friendly, knowledgeable and altogether accommodating. My server was always on hand to refill water or offer suggestions; he was remarkably friendly and proficient. It was an absolute treat to dine here and would have been even if the food was not as good as it turned out to be.

If you’re the pious sort and wish to prove your devotion to your faith by taking a long walk to some magic dirt, do yourself a favor and also praise the god of burritos. He lives at Rancho de Chimayó.

Open: 11:30 am-8:30 pm (until 9 pm
starting in May), closed Mondays
Best Bet: Carne Adovada Burrito
Don’t Miss: Guacamole

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New York, NY (February 23, 2016) – The James Beard Foundation announced today the five recipients of its 2016 America’s Classics Award. The America’s Classics Award is given to restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food that reflects the character of their community. The 2016 honorees join the ranks of nearly 100 restaurants that have received the award since the category was introduced in 1998. This year’s winners will be celebrated at the 26th annual James Beard Foundation Awards, taking place on Monday, May 2, 2016, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“James Beard would have loved these restaurants; they represent how America eats,” says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Each has played a role in bringing their communities together, representing the heart and soul of our national culinary landscape—we’re proud to honor them as classics!”

Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante (300 Santa Fe County Rd 98, Chimayo, NM; Owner: Florence Jaramillo)

Florence and Arturo Jaramillo envisioned this restaurant as a living tribute to the heritage of New Mexico, a way to honor the land and the culture. Arturo Jaramillo is a direct descendant of the first settlers to the Chimayó Valley in the late 1600s, and the hacienda was the home of his grandparents. The menu has expanded over the years. At the core are peerless regional dishes like carne adovada, tamales, posole, pinto beans, sopaipillas, flan, and natillas. The village of Chimayó is celebrated for its particular cultivar of red chile. Ristras of those chiles dangle decoratively from the eaves of the hacienda, a reminder of the import of local goods and local traditions.   

The James Beard Awards Gala will take place at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 2, 2016. During the event, which is open to the public, awards in the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards, including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes.

The 2016 James Beard Awards are presented in association with HMSHost, Lexus, and Mariano's; and the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Airlines, Lenox Tableware and Gifts, True Refrigeration®; Supporting Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, Breville, Goose Island Beer Company, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Skuna Bay Salmon, Valrhona; Gala Reception Sponsors: Braveheart Black Angus Beef® from PERFORMANCE Foodservice, Ecolab, Groupon, Royal Caribbean International, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts; with additional support from: Chefwear, VerTerra Dinnerware, and Wisconsin Cheese. The James Beard Foundation also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Choose Chicago, and the Illinois Restaurant Association.


About The James Beard Foundation

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food. Today JBF continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visit Get food news, recipes, and more at the James Beard Foundation’s blog. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Rancho de Chimayó on James Beard Shortlist

March 15, 2016, 6:00 pm

By Ben Kendall

The prestigious James Beard Foundation awards have been called “the Oscars of food,” and New Mexico’s own Florence Jaramillo, owner of Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante, has been named one of “America’s Classics.” While the official winner of that category and others will be revealed on May 2, its award goes to an eatery that is “distinguished by timeless appeal … they serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities.” Rancho de Chimayó certainly fits the bill, being a nigh-cornerstone of the Northern New Mexican town also known for its santuario and upcoming annual Holy Week pilgrimage. Despite a brief closing in 2008 due to a fire, the eatery has been in business for almost 51 years.

From the outside looking in, it might seem like a whirlwind, but Jaramillo has known for quite some time. “They called me in the middle of February. I couldn’t say anything to anybody, not my staff, not anybody,” Jaramillo explains to SFR after the news broke Tuesday. “When they first called, I thought somebody was playing a joke on me. I’ve had a lot of locals and old employees from 48 or 50 years ago come in and congratulate me.”

Before she knew it, a writer and a cameraman from the James Beard Foundation were in her restaurant, interviewing patrons and staff.

She says it’s hard to tell that business has picked up with before-Easter traffic. “We get lots of traffic this year any way,” she adds, “with people going back and forth to the church.”

Jaramillo says she hasn’t been sick all winter, but now she’s feeling fantastic. “It’s a really great honor. I’m so happy for my staff and for the restaurant and for all the hard work that we’ve done all over the years. I never expected this.”

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This March/April 1970 issue of New Mexico Magazine was the catapult that assisted Rancho de Chimayó in becoming a popular, authentic restaurant in Santa Fe and all of New Mexico.

CLICK HERE to view the article from 1970.